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Going Further Afield: Aspen Extreme! (Well, maybe Mt. Brighton)
By Robbie Allen, DCSki Columnist
April 7, 2007

It has always been my dream to ski the same glorious slopes shown in the classic ski movie of the 90’s “Aspen Extreme.” Now I can report I have! I have ridden the same chairs, gazed over the same view and launched myself off those hallowed peaks on the very same mountain as my heroes of the big screen! I am of course talking of that powder capital of SKI Mount Brighton, Michigan.

I can easily see how these boys from this 300-foot mound in Southeastern Michigan transformed themselves from suburban lift dogs making minimum wage to Aspen ski instructors hob knobbing with the rich and famous. Yes, this is the place.

Well, maybe not.

Mighty Mount Brighton is hallowed ground. It is located just outside of Detroit, Michigan. The hill is actually two hills with a saddle in the middle, the result of which is at least six open faces for skiing. There are no real trails here, just open areas for skiing. The area is cris-crossed with chairlifts. No less than seven chairs and two tows cover the 130 acres of skiing. The result is a fully accessible ski area where almost every acre is in play.

Open terrain towards the “summit” at Mount Brighton. Photo by Mike Nichols (www.thestreetpost.com.)

The day of my visit there was not a cloud in the sky. The snow coverage was excellent. Both the ample snowmaking and the recent storms had covered the area in a 30” base. The groomers had been at work that morning so the corduroy was fresh. As the day went on the snow began to soften up, providing some excellent packed powder conditions for early March. The crowds were light on the day of my visit as only a handful of folks were out and about on the hallowed grounds.

As kind of a Motor City fashion statement the whole ski hill is ringed by a chain link fence. Lift tickets are checked at a gate in the fence at the lodge. This post is manned by a kind of “ski bouncer” who I guess sends those without lift tickets packing. It reminds me of the beaches in New Jersey where you need to buy a pass to go on to the beach. I am sure over 40 years ago when this hill opened there was no fence. But suburban Detroit has sprawled out and engulfed the area. Thus the fence became necessary. I hate to say it but the fence makes the place feel almost slimy. Kind of like skiing is a type of carnival ride, not a wild adventure. No wonder the guys in the movie bolted to Aspen.

However for a suburban area you take what you can get. Any day on the snow sure beats a day in the office. A sentiment echoed by many I rode the lift with this spring glorious day.

Flying towards the lodge and the fence at Mount Brighton. Photo provided by Mount Brighton.

It would be nice if the ski area paid some homage to the silver screen. I do wish this place would own their legacy a bit more. A few “Aspen Extreme” photos or maybe the gift shop could sell the classic “Ski Brighton” hat worn by one of the films heroes. I can say now that I have skied these hallow grounds that gave our heroes the stuff they needed to become Aspen ski instructors verses Aspen bus boys. I can report that kind of stuff happens only in Hollywood!

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Amy
12 years ago
which raises the question where was Hot Dog filmed?
skier219
12 years ago
I think it was Squaw Valley, CA but not sure.
jim (jimboc)
12 years ago
yes it was squaw valley
geo
12 years ago
what was that lame film were Rudy was a ski patroler at killington?
Mike
12 years ago
I TOOK THAT AND PASSED IT ON TO MT BRIGHTON!
Credit me damn it LOL

mikeatcdi@yahoo.com
Mike
12 years ago
I TOOK THAT AND PASSED IT ON TO MT BRIGHTON!
Credit me damn it LOL

mikeatcdi@yahoo.com
wojo
12 years ago
I was were I learned to bomb the hill. Enjoyed it too
Teach Me
11 years ago
Lots of Mt. Brighton people now instruct out west… check Aspen, Moonlight Basin, Copper or Crested Butte, just to name a few…
Driver3M
11 years ago
I broke my leg at Mt. Brighton. Sometime Christmas week of 1970 on “Big Riskey”. The snow had been groomed when it was above freezing then it froze into ice balls. My binding didn’t release. We used to ski mainly at several other Detroit-area ski hills. Alpine Valley, Mt. Holly, and Pine Knob. I had an aunt that used to live near Okemo, and we skied there several times in the 1960s & 70s, back when they had mostly old pomalifts. The upper pomas were diesel powered and quite fast. When I was a kid the operator would pull the release handle and I would fly 15 or 20 ft uphill when the cable bottomed-out. We also skied at Round Top and Killington. The last time that I skied Vermont was at Jay Peak and at Burke, where another relative owns a condo at the base. I also had a great day late-season at Waterville in 1989. They only had 2 lifts running. Witn no liftline we made at least 20 trips up the summit quad. I worked lifts at Beaver Creek in 83-84. I loaded on the old Larkspur Bowl triple on opening day, the same year that it was new. Later in the year I traded a couple of days so I could load on the old Birds of Prey double. The last 6 weeks of the season they had me at the top of the old triple that let-off at Spruce Saddle. It was replaced by their first HS quad. I still remember when Robert Redford got it in the shin with a snow rake at lift 8—thanks to my partner. I skied 60 full days that season at both the Beav and Vail. I still ski on my old 210cm giant slalom skis at Eldora on Corona Bowl. Who would have ever thought that a kid from Detroit would have gone on to ski with the best in Colorado?
Driver3M
11 years ago
I broke my leg at Mt. Brighton. Sometime Christmas week of 1970 on “Big Riskey”. The snow had been groomed when it was above freezing then it froze into ice balls. My binding didn’t release. We used to ski mainly at several other Detroit-area ski hills. Alpine Valley, Mt. Holly, and Pine Knob. I had an aunt that used to live near Okemo, and we skied there several times in the 1960s & 70s, back when they had mostly old pomalifts. The upper pomas were diesel powered and quite fast. When I was a kid the operator would pull the release handle and I would fly 15 or 20 ft uphill when the cable bottomed-out. We also skied at Round Top and Killington. The last time that I skied Vermont was at Jay Peak and at Burke, where another relative owns a condo at the base. I also had a great day late-season at Waterville in 1989. They only had 2 lifts running. Witn no liftline we made at least 20 trips up the summit quad. I worked lifts at Beaver Creek in 83-84. I loaded on the old Larkspur Bowl triple on opening day, the same year that it was new. Later in the year I traded a couple of days so I could load on the old Birds of Prey double. The last 6 weeks of the season they had me at the top of the old triple that let-off at Spruce Saddle. It was replaced by their first HS quad. I still remember when Robert Redford got it in the shin with a snow rake at lift 8—thanks to my partner. I skied 60 full days that season at both the Beav and Vail. I still ski on my old 210cm giant slalom skis at Eldora on Corona Bowl. Who would have ever thought that a kid from Detroit would have gone on to ski with the best in Colorado?
Glen Mazzone
9 years ago
Sir:

I came across your site looking for discount tickets.
Your pieces are well written and insightful, if a bit too “glowing.”

If you had visited the bar in the “lodge” at midwest ski mecca “Mt. Brighton” and looked closely you could have found:

1. A poster for the movie “Aspen Extreme”

2. Several production stills showing cast and crew in action

3. The “Brighton Maintenance” hat (or an exact replica…I could never find out for sure) worn by Peter Berg (Dexter)in the movie.

The last time I visited this place, they were selling these hats for $18.00.

Overall this place is a dump (although not actually built on real garbage as the movie intimated…It is in fact reported to be made from the excess soil used in completing nearby Interstate 96)…Poorly run with rude, uncouth, ill mannered staff.

Thanks again for your articles.
Glen Mazzone
9 years ago
Sir:

I came across your site looking for discount tickets.
Your pieces are well written and insightful, if a bit too “glowing.”

If you had visited the bar in the “lodge” at midwest ski mecca “Mt. Brighton” and looked closely you could have found:

1. A poster for the movie “Aspen Extreme”

2. Several production stills showing cast and crew in action

3. The “Brighton Maintenance” hat (or an exact replica…I could never find out for sure) worn by Peter Berg (Dexter)in the movie.

The last time I visited this place, they were selling these hats for $18.00.

Overall this place is a dump (although not actually built on real garbage as the movie intimated…It is in fact reported to be made from the excess soil used in completing nearby Interstate 96)…Poorly run with rude, uncouth, ill mannered staff.

Thanks again for your articles.
Sharpen your edges. And pencils.
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