I have a love hate relationship with Lutsen, and I am beginning to think Lutsen is figuring it all out. First, I have been going to Lutsen since I was about 6 years old. My parents and I would go up there during the summer and we would stay at Lutsen Resort. It was a great time with lots of awesome memories. As a kid I would spend my day down on the beach throwing as many rocks as I could into Lake Superior. I would do this all day long. In fact when it was time to go home, my dad would say, “You threw so many rocks in the lake I think you caused it to raise a few inches.” Looking back it was pretty funny, because I believed I did raise the lake level… So the next time we were up in Lutsen for a family trip I would just throw more rocks. But more recently Lutsen was the place that I learned to ski. I took my first ski lesson there and I truly fell in love with the sport there. I spent many days perfecting my turns on Big Bunny and Ullr. I learned how to ski steeper lines on Split Rock, Chris’s Couloir, Cliff Run, and Raven. I learned how to ski the trees on Red Fox, Cedar Ridge, Red Rider and Moose Maze. Heck, me and a buddy even made our own run there once and named it, sadly Lutsen would not let me pay for a sign and have it become an official run, true story I asked. To me Lutsen is like my jealous mistress, it knows that it will never be first, it will never be my favorite, and it knows that some of its short comings frustrate me beyond belief… It know this because every single time I go there the weather is terrible, the conditions are bad, or a combination of the 2. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some excellent days up there, but I have had more disappointments then I care to count. While this weekend was not a disappointment it was cold, I don’t mind the cold, I have lots and lots of warm clothes but I hate the wind. That just ruins the day for me.
Let’s recap, Friday the drive up was excellent, We got into so little fluffy snow at about Hinckley and it continued snowing all the way up to Lutsen, there was maybe a very fluffy inch of snow on the ground when we checked into our hotel, but besides the nice fluffy snow, the temps were dropping it was -8 when we got our stuff unloaded and into our room, the one saving grace at the time was there was no wind, below zero is ok until the wind picks up, then it is just unbearable. We got a good night sleep and got up Saturday morning, ate breakfast and made our way up to the hill to ski. The temp was about-2 when we got to the parking area and got ready to go. We clicked into our skis and started across to the 10th Mountain chair we got right on and headed up to the runs on the north face of Eagle Mountain, these are my favorite runs, they are single and double black diamonds and they are a lot of fun. On the way up I was noticing there was some good snow around, untracked powder from the snow fall last night and from a larger one the area had, had a few nights before. We did our warm up run on KooKoo which is a really fun single black, we took that back to the same chair and went back up, over the next hour or so we skied Chris’s Couloir, Cliff Run, Raven and made pretty dang awesome powder turns on our secret run. I gave Melissa first tracks on our run, she cut some very nice powder turns, I followed and discovered nice soft snow. It was great. After that we headed to the gondola and took it over to Moose Mountain, we sat in the Chalet for a bit to warm up because of course the wind started to pick up and it was getting colder outside as the wind chills were dropping. We sat in the Chalet for about 30 minutes and warmed up and then head back out. We found powder on Grizzly which we skied twice and I found good snow on the tree run Bear’s Den. We had a great time on the long cruisers on Moose Mountain. We skied over there for about 2 hours, we decided then that we were hungry so we headed back on the tram to the main area and decided to have a sit down lunch at Papa Charlie’s. We had a nice lunch, discussed the day so far and warmed up for the rest of the afternoon. We headed back out after lunch and noticed that the winds had indeed picked up more and that it was getting colder. We decided to check out the runs on the beginner mountain Ullr. We could the Ullr lift up and Melissa skied Molly’s Folly and I skied Tony’s Tango. Melissa said Mollys was really fun and I had a great time on Tony’s, but we decided to hit the runs on Eagle again. We skied Expert’s Cutoff which turned out to be excellent and went back to a few that we had skied that morning. The wind was blowing out of the north and it was blowing pretty hard. The snow was blowing off the north facing runs so they were getting icy. We decided to call it a day about 3pm and hit the little shops that we like in the area. It overall a good day, but by the end of the day I was frozen and was ready to be done. We got in the car and headed back to the hotel and I said to Melissa, “Why can’t we just have a normal day here?” She thought the same thing, but we laughed it off and continued on with our weekend away. We had dinner at the Crooked Spoon in Grand Marais, it was pretty good. I think we were both glad we tried it but after I think we both would have wished we would have gone to the Gunflint Tavern which besides Sven and Oles pizza is our favorite place in Grand Marais to eat. We got back to the hotel, watched some TV, read and went to bed.
Sunday met us with -11 below temps and light snow. The forecast was for warming temps and winds to pick up in the late afternoon, which was perfect because we knew we would be on the road about 2-230 to make the drive home. We packed up, had breakfast and made our way up to the hill, we got ready and jumped on Bridge Run. The snow had picked up a bit and it was looking like it was going to be a great day, we headed up to Eagle and did Kookoo, Cliff, Raven and our secret run, all skied well. We then decided to hit Moose and do a few runs over there. When we exited the gondola the snow let up a bit but it was still snowing. We decided to go into the Chalet and warm up for a few minutes. While in there the snow had picked up again, we headed back out and skied the top half of Grizzly and cut into the tress for the bottom half. We did a few more runs and the winds hit. Wait what, it is not late afternoon? It is barely noon. The wind started blow so hard that it instantly got cold and I mean really cold. We decided to head back to the main area and see if we could get out of the wind. Nope no luck, like I said Lutsen knows that I love/hate it and therefore gets me back by making the wind follow me whichever way I was going. On a couple runs the wind was blowing so hard that we were literally slowing down. Yeah, no fun. I looked at Melissa and said, “I’m done…” She agreed and we packed up and head for home. Booooo! I was disappointed. There was a nice light snow and gale force winds. Sucked. Oh well, we enjoyed our drive home and talked about the fun that we had. We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner in Duluth. We arrived home safely had a nice evening together relaxing and watching a movie.
Lutsen taunts me because she is not number 1 and I know this because I watch the weather. Last weekend it snowed a foot up there and the weather was nice. 15-20 degrees and light winds, this week I get there and it is the coldest weekend so far this winter. I left yesterday afternoon, today it is supposed to snow and the temperature is going to warm up to the low 20’s. Lutsen is a beautiful place, it is a great ski resort, the views from the mountains of the Lake Superior and of the north woods are nothing short of incredible. And I certainly cannot blame them for the weather. But I can blame them for the extremely high lift ticket prices and the, while very quaint and old school lifts, it is time to upgrade them. It is sad to me that I will be less money to ski at 3 resorts in Montana next month then I pay at Lutsen.
Will I stop going to Lutsen to ski, no way. I love and hate my relationship to much with her to do that.
UPDATED: I have become what I have sneered at.
11 hours ago