The New Face of Laurel
6 posts
5 users
September 19, 2005
Member since 09/12/2005 🔗
94 posts
Okay, so I felt like throwing out a hypothetical situation. Let's say some big money buyer decides to purchase Laurel Mountain. And let's say that he's an active reader of DCSki, and decides to put all of us on the board of directors.

Every member gets to make a few suggestions on a major change to the resort, and the new owner will take them into consideration.

Every suggestion has to be within reason, but can affect any major aspect of the resort including it's operation, lifts, slopes, whatever..

So, you have three things you can change, what would they be?
September 19, 2005
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
Expand to face right accros from wildcat(note it is north facing), but you need skier first to do it.
Roger Z
September 19, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Bushwhacker nailed it. I'm gonna focus the following comments on the skiing.

Let's start with the aerial photo:

and then the topo:

The first thing that becomes obvious is that the intermediate side of the mountain is woefully underextended. There is an old lift that drops to 2200 feet but the current lift only goes to 2300 feet. The state park boundary appears to be just above 2100 feet. What I'd do is extend the lift- possibly negotiate with the private landholders below the state park for leased access down to 2000 feet for a solid 900 foot vertical. I'd add a second dedicated intermediate run, move the beginner run further west (currently I think it follows the old road- it's a hoot but we'd need the space for another blue), make sure the run under the lift gets snowmaking and is open, for three total intermediate runs, and then add a fourth run sloping back toward the Wildcat lift that was a dedicated terrain park with its own surface lift.

On the Wildcat side, I'd look at an expert run on the west side of the lift that joins the old connector run between the two lifts. On the Dream Highway (east) side, I'd add a glade down to that parallels the sheer drop on Wildcat.

I'd probably also want to see the quad on the intermediate side converted to a high speed detachable. It's going to be taking the bulk of the crowd and already runs kind of spotty.

Ambitiously, you could look at additional expert skiing on the eastern side of the existing terrain and another novice/intermediate area to the west of existing terrain, but there's only so much the state park is going to let you do. Nonetheless, I'd probably push for a master plan that had both expansion options in the final document so that if we ever did elect to go forward, we could do so expeditiously- this is modelled on Les Otten's approach to expansion at Sunday River, the flagship of ASC.

But we'd have to turn our attention to financing. Improving the skiing would put it on a competitive level with 7 Springs and Hidden Valley, but the skiing isn't going to be the principal revenue source. What is going to get people to Laurel and keep them there for a weekend? Real estate is one component, but I don't think you can ignore a base village- or summit village in this case- with alternative activities for non-skiers.

It just seems so sterile proposing something like that village though. I want a more ambitious idea, but don't have one in mind. Any thoughts?
September 20, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
149 posts
I have been thinking about what I would do with laurel myself a lot this summer and have even made a trail map of what I would do if I had the money. Since one of the biggest draw backs to Laurel is the lack of slope side lodging the first thing I did was place a lift that goes from the top of Laurel Mountain village down to the bottom of the ravine, I connected this lift to the rest of the resort by a long green trail going down the ravine that eventual connects to the bottom of dream highway. From the ski lodge back to the Laurel Mountain Village lift I put a few slopes that traversed the hillside. This area will be primarily green and blue runs.

Back on the current ski area I put a second lift next to the quad that will go all the way to the base of the mountain. This allows Laurel to get approx. an 1100 ft vertical. I had a few blue and black runs coming down to this lift. I cut trails on both sides of Lower Wildcat. This will provide 2 more double blacks at Laurel.

On the map below the trails in yellow are the current trails and the ones in white are my proposed trails

edited to fix image link
Roger Z
September 20, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Shearer- that's a great map. I didn't realize the village was off to the east like that. A couple of things from an engineering/environmental perspective to consider:

Building along creeks is often a tough thing to do. A good rule of thumb is to not disturb land within 50 feet of a creek. On your map, this raises some problems with the long novice trail that connects all three lifts, as well as the extension of the intermediate lift all the way to Rolling Rock. I think getting the lift down as far as possible is a good idea, but depending on the gradient of the slope and total clearing you'll probably want a minimum of a 100 foot buffer between the slopes and the creek.

From an engineering perspective, a couple of your runs are side-cuts moving northeast. That requires a lot of soil transfer, raising issues of maintenance, erosion, and simply cost to build. It might actually be cheaper- and be a better skiing experience- to create a smaller side-cut run off the second bend in Dream Highway (the one that is farthest east) to a new lift. The lift could go up to the 2800 foot peak above the lodge, with a novice trail back to the main ski area, one or two expert runs, and an intermediate and novice run that connect over to the new lift you've proposed to the base village (the intermediate run would go along that slight hump that moves northeast from the summit- the novice would be a narrow side-cut).

That leaves lots of opportunities for new glades or terrain parks as well. I like your idea of filling in to the west like that. Its suggestive of a natural ski bowl and would make the village much more valuable as a real estate location- heck, you could even build the "base village" there and leave Old Laurel Summit as a day lodge!
September 20, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,550 posts
There have been some other threads which discussed possible improvements to Laurel Mountain.

Some intial suggestions:

  • Expand snowmaking to Dream Highway and some of the other blue trails. Improve the snowmaking on Innsbruck. It has the weakest snowmaking of all the existing trails and novices need good snow conditions. I'd prefer that some of the Laurel Run area be kept natural snow only.
  • There is plenty of room to cut some black and blue trails between Lower Wilcat and Lower Broadway.
  • Clear out some of the debris in the wooded areas. Remove the man-made debris from the old T-Bar to skier's right of Lower Wildcat and make it a true Expert glade. Possibly clear some of the debris from under the Wildcat Lift and make it a trail; however, the lift chairs may sag a bit too low to safely do this.

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