Vail Resorts on the Front Line of Technological Innovation

Have you ever been heading to the mountain and wonder whether it was crowded or not?  Maybe you’re trying to get to the top after lunch the fastest way possible? Or maybe you’re just trying to pack as many runs into your day as you possibly can.  Well now you can always figure out the fastest way to your favorite terrain as Vail Resorts has just released EpicMix Time, a crowd-sourced phone app that posts estimated wait times for different chairlifts on a resort map.

Vail Resorts EpicMix Time

For the 2015-2016 season, Vail Resorts will have the app setup to cover Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone, and they will be looking to expand the app to include more resorts for the 2016-2017 season.  The app uses a mix of WiFi and Bluetooth signals from your mobile phone to track and calculate up to the minute chairlift wait time estimates.  The app will cover 55 chairlifts/ Gondolas which service 13,600 acres of skiable terrain.  They say that once the app debuts in Colorado, they are looking to move it to many different resorts in the 2016-2017 season.  They are currently testing the app at Perisher Resort in Australia, who just recently became a member of Vail Resorts.

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2013 Burton Joystick 157 cm

Brand: Burton

Model: Joystick

Year: 2013

Length: 157 cm

Camber Profile: Rocker

2013 Burton Joystick 157cm

Key Board Specs – 

  • Gondola Package
  • The Channel
  • BEND: V-Rocker
  • SHAPE: Twin-Like
  • FLEX: Directional
  • CORE: Super Fly II™ with Dualzone™ EGD™
  • FIBERGLASS: Triax™ Fiberglass with Carbon I-Beam™
  • BASE: Sintered
  • SIDEWALLS: 10:45™
  • EXTRAS: Squeezebox, Jumper Cables Hi-Voltage, Scoop, Frostbite Edges, Ellip Kicks, Pro-Tip™, and Infinite Ride™

What the Company Says – “Turn virtual into reality with the highest performance V-Rocker™ on offer.  From first tracks to park laps, the Joystick is like a warp zone for those ready to ride at a higher level. Squeezebox brings more energy into the mix for enhanced pop and quicker control, while the catch-free float and relaxed feel or rocker takes freestyle from virtual to reality. Looser and more park oriented than the Sherlock, but sharing a similar performance package, the Joystick is for the all-around rider looking to get the most out of rocker.”

On Snow Feel – Loose – This board is super loose because of the Burton V-Rocker camber profile.  This profile features a less than mellow bend in the middle of the board that actually makes the tip and tail of the board come up off the ground when it is placed flat.  The dramatic bend in the board helps to create the loose board feel which helps beginners and experts alike to not catch an edge.  It also allows for this board to be super buttery and playful.  There is also scoop in the tip and tail which turn up the tip and tail edges to allow for easier buttering and pressing.

Flex – 4 – If you are a lighter rider and you fit into the size chart for this board, the board should be pretty medium soft, somewhere around a 3 or 4 probably, but if you are heavier, the board might react differently than advertised.  I am a heavier rider, though, and I think the board is still pretty medium soft.

Turn Initiation – Lightning – It is very easy to get this board on edge.  Definitely a fun board to throw around on a soft day in the trees.

*Ratings will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent, and explanations will follow.*

Edge Hold – Average – This is a HUGE downfall of the Joystick.  While this board does have Burton’s “Frostbite Edges”, which means that there are tiny bumps right after the binding inserts which are supposed to help grip the snow, they really do fall short hen it comes to edge hold.  I live on the East Coast and while it is doable to ride this board on hard pack and ice, you definitely need to be careful when you’re speeding through and throwing this board around because it will slide out from underneath you extremely easily if you’re not looking for the ice.

Powder – Great – This board will perform well in powder.  Because of the V-Rocker and the Scoop tech, this board will really want to try and stay afloat.  The centered stance will make it a little bit more difficult, but it would be a great choice if you like to ride switch a lot in powder or land switch a lot in powder.  You could also set the stance back and ride it very directional in powder and its float would be even better.  This board is also offered in a 161 cm version which would want to float even more.

Carving – Poor – This board was not meant for carving.  It will wash out if you try and push it too hard.  Definitely look somewhere else because this is all about being loose and playful.

Speed – Good – Not the best board for bombing runs but you can pick up some good speed pretty comfortably.  I have gotten up to 50 mph on this board and still felt like I was in control of the board, but it was a somewhat stressful experience knowing that I was going that fast on such a soft V-Rocker snowboard.  You are definitely going to get a lot of chatter if you’re trying to go that fast.

Uneven Terrain – Excellent – Because this board is so soft, it just bends over rough terrain.

Switch – Great – Not perfect but the twinish shape definitely helps when you’re riding with the opposite foot forward.

Jumps – Great – This board is great for small to medium jumps, but it really excels when you’re creating your own air.  If you pair this board with a pair of Burton EST bindings with HingeTech like the Cartel, Malavita, Genesis, or Diode bindings (I probably wouldn’t pair the super stiff Diode with a soft board like the Joystick but…) you can create incredible amounts of air, it might even catch you off guard.  The only problem with this board here is the lack of camber means if you land backseat, it will be tough to ride away.

Jibbing – Excellent – If you detune the edges of this board, it would be a nice jib board.  It is also available in a 150 cm and 154 cm version, which would be even better for jibbing because they would be easier to throw around.  The scoop in the tip and tail really helps with pressing and avoiding catching an edge on a rail.

Pipe – Average – Not a pipe board.  Maybe a soft spring pipe for a few hits and slashes.

Overall, this is an amazing board, for a beginner or an expert rider.  The soft to medium flex of the board let you use this board all over the park, but also lets you explore the rest of the mountain and make it your own playground.  If you’re looking for a quality first board that will allow you to learn or progress your riding, the Burton Joystick is a good choice, especially because 2013 was the last year for the Joystick, and they sell online on some sites for 250-350 dollars, which is well below some of the sticker prices for new snowboards.

Snowboard Review System

Hey Everyone! Here is the system with the categories I am using to evaluate the boards that I am reviewing.  Check it out:

Key Board Specs – Any special or unique features the board may have.

What the Company Says – What does the brand say about the board.

On Snow Feel – How does it feel when you’re riding on snow, loose, semi-stable, stable, semi-catchy, or catchy.  Also, how easy is it to flat base or one foot.

Flex – Noodle to Plank, 1 to 10, how soft is the board.

Turn Initiation – How easy is it to put the board on its edge and make a turn, slow, average, fast, or lightning.

*Ratings will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent, and explanations will follow.*

Edge Hold – How well does the board hold an edge on snow and ice.

Powder – How well does the board ride powder.

Carving – How well can the board hold a carve.

Speed – How fast can the board go comfortably, snail, slow, average, fast, or bomber.

Uneven Terrain – How well does the board handle bumps in the snow, crud, and chunder.

Switch – How well does the board ride switch.

Jumps – How well does the board handle small to large jumps, ollies,and nollies.

Jibbing – How well does the board handle rails, boxes, bonks, stairs, tubes, and any other jibs you can hit.

Pipe – How well does the board perform in the halfpipe, both with edge hold and drive from wall to wall keeping and generating speed.

 

Bear Creek Mountain Resort – Macungie, PA

Bear Creek Ski Area – Adult Weekend $63 (Adult Season – $445, but $380 before Oct. 31)

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Originally called the Rittenhouse Gap Mine, Bear Creek Ski Area used to be an iron mine in the 1800’s.  After the mine closed, Doe Mountain Ski Area was opened in 1967 with just a t-bar, a rope tow and two trails.  In 1999, ownership of the resort changed hands and it became Bear Creek Mountain Resort.  It is located in Macungie, PA.

Snow Quality – Average – The snow at Bear Creek is often hit or miss.  Occasionally, there are larger storms that will blanket the area, but the slopes can and do get icy at night.  However, the resort is very good with snowmaking and can cover 100% of the mountain if needed.

Crowds – Good to Excellent – If you are a college student and can go during the day during the week you will be blessed with riding only interrupted by the chairlift taking you back up the hill (Excellent).  On the other hand, high school kids can make their way out to this mountain after school, due to its close vicinity to a few cities and large towns, and these times usually see a rise in guests (Great).  On weekends, the crowds often swell and on holidays it can get pretty crazy (Good).

Lift Infrastructure – Great – The mountain isn’t very big so the lifts they have are very nice to use.  They have 4 chairlifts and a carpet lift at Bear Creek.  Three of their lifts are quads and they are very efficient at getting people up the hill.  However, often times they do not run the one chair, which can be annoying because it would be the chair that services the park but all the park kids then have to go to the next lift.

Trail Variety – 7 Beginner, 7 Intermediate, 4 Advanced, 3 Terrain Parks – One of their black diamond trails always has moguls on it, snowboarders stay away.  Also, their terrain parks go according to ability from about 3 or 4 very small features to a full park of medium features, to a full park of large features.

Trail Quality – Good – Given the amount of snow that they receive each year, they do a great job of working with that natural snow as well as making new snow and covering all of the trails.  Some do get icy and they are best to watch out for, and as it gets darker, a lot of the trails ice up quickly.  Also, one of their black diamond trails “Sasquatch” has a 50 degree slope which, although quick, challenges local skiers who try to navigate down.

Terrain Parks – Great – The terrain parks here are small but nice.  They always have a ton of small to medium sized jumps spread around, as well as many different features such as rails and boxes and bonks.  Last season, they even set up a little halfpipe type feature in the spring.

Family Friendly – Excellent – Very family friendly resort.  Excellent instructors, great food, easy rental process, pool, hot tub, game room, and a ton of different food options. Also they have a Burton Riglet Park to help really young children discover snowboarding!

Cost – Good – The day passes can be expensive for the size of the mountain but if you’re local, getting a season pass is an ideal move because it’s cheap enough that it pays for itself in like 4 or 5 trips.  Also, the hotel is very nice, and its not going to be cheap to stay at peak times in the winter.  However, if you are local you can find lift ticket deals at ski shops nearby, such as Buckmans in Reading, PA.

Nightlife – Poor – No village at the resort and you have to drive a ways to get to any real cities, so you’re probably not going out if you’re here.

Things to do Average – Much more to do in the summer than winter around Bear Creek.  Mountain Biking, Disc Golf, Golf, Theme Parks, and more.  Really only skiing, snowboarding, and tubing during the winter.  Also pretty close to many different universities such as Abright, Alvernia, and Lehigh.

Resort Ratings System

Hey Everyone!  So before I got started with the resort reviews, I wanted to lay out the system that I will be using for the reviews.  This will show you the categories I will be looking at and what I will be looking for in each category.  It also explains how the ratings will be made.  Check it out:

Snow Quality – This takes into account both the amount of snow, as well as the quality of the snow itself, how fluffy and light or how heavy and wet it may be.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Crowds – This will look at how crowded the lines may get, if there are a lot of backups and lines or if it’s hot laps all day.  This will also look at how quickly new snow is wipe off the mountain.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Lift Infrastructure – This will analyze the amount of lifts, as well as the quality of the lifts as a whole.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Trail Variety – This will count the number of trails for each ability level, for example: 12 green, 15 blue, 10 black.  There may be a small explanation following the stats.

Trail Quality – This will look at how well the trails are kept, how well the snow holds on the trails or how icy they get.  This will also take into account the terrain park, though the terrain park will be rated more thoroughly later.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Terrain Parks – This will check out the resorts’ terrain parks and look at how much feature variety is present, along with how well each feature is crafted and how well the snow is kept.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Family Friendly – This will focus on the amenities the resort has for children and families such as daycare facilities, pools, and ski school facilities and programs, as well as how many beginner trails the resort has.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Cost – This will analyze the prices of day passes at the resort and the price of lodging at the resort.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Nightlife – This will look at what types of après ski options are available to guests at the resort.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

Things to do – This will take a peek at the other adventures you can embark on from the resort, mostly focused on winter activities.  These activities could include cat-skiing, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hiking, ice skating, etc.  Some summer activities will be considered such as mountain biking, hiking, fishing, etc.  The scale will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent.  An explanation will accompany the rating.

So that’s how I’ll be doing these resort reviews.  I plan on posting a similar chart for the snowboard, bindings, and boot reviews as well.  Have a great day everyone! Hope you’re all stoked on the site and continue to follow us!

CWALT

Striking in South America

While most of South America is gearing up for a monster snow storm that, at one point was predicted to bring 19 feet of snow (!!) to the Andes (Now it’s more like 90 inches), the people of Bariloche, Argentina and patrons of Cerro Catedral ski area are being left high and dry.  That’s right, because at Cerro Catedral, the lift operators have bound together to go on strike, blocking off access to the different lifts around the mountain.  But then the issue escalated when frustrated shop owners and instructors confronted the lift operators in what turned into a large fist fight.  The police had to be called to break up the brawl.  The lift operators are seeking a 30% wage increase to continue working.  Again, this comes at a majorly bad time with this massive snow storm moving through the Andes.  Skiers and Snowboarders may have to look elsewhere to get their fix of the white stuff.

Valle Nevado getting 19 feet of snow?!?!

With it being summer in North America, South America is enjoying a healthy dose of snow during their winter months.  Because of El Nino, South American resorts have been getting hit hard.  Earlier this week, Valle Nevado ski area, in Chile, was expecting 19 feet of fresh powder!  While this sounds outrageous, that was only a prediction.  The real number, however, is also very impressive, as they were now expecting 88 inches of snow this week, with 64 inches of that coming during Thursday, August 6th.  As morning broke on Valle Nevado, resort goers and staff awoke to find 20 inches already laying on the mountains around them.  There is no question that if you are in the northern hemisphere and can get to Chile, now is the time to do it because it is firing down there in the Andes.IMG_1452-300x225

*Morning at Valle Nevado Ski Area, Chile