By Hank Bedingfield 

Happy Hour from 7:30 to 10 a.m., offered at The Jane — the base lodge Mary Jane, Winter Park — captures all the beauties and brutalities this mountain has to offer.

Winter Park Resort pairs mind-numbing family-friendly groomers, littered with humanoid bionic ski machine children and their gear strewn about, with step bumps that effectively butcher your quads with a rusty cleaver till you wish nothing more than to keel over and be drowned in gallons of Bloody Marys and abandoned to your drunken, tomatoey death. 

In recognition of these atrocities, Winter Park offers remedies in the form of cheap and plentiful drinks.

The only way to truly enjoy these runs, whether they be the hypnotic turns of a winding beginner trail on which you inevitably find yourself trapped or a never-ending succession of relentless, thigh-blasting moguls, is through a healthy regimen of drugs and alcohol. 

Acknowledging this, the Jane offers Happy Hour from 7:30 to 10 a.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to closing. To complete the total commercialization of skiing, in some variation of predatory capitalism, Winter Park has weaponized and monetized the omnipresent brutalities of its terrain and is dead-set on transforming its honorable patrons into crippled drug fiends.

Once properly boozed and sedated, this mountain demands a degree of expertise from its users that I have never before experienced, nor wish to experience from a vacation destination. After five days of skiing, drinking, and cursing my way around this hill, I finally feel qualified to write something about it — even if it’s just for a floundering newspaper the caliber of a 3 a.m. 7-Eleven. 

The key to enjoying this mountain is avoiding its long winding runouts and absurd quantity of beginner terrain.

Mary Jane, Parsenn Bowl Territory, Eagle Wind, and the Cirque territory are glimpses of redemption for this otherwise backwards bunny-hill. These areas offer some of the steepest and most consistently grueling — in a masochistic way — bump runs in Colorado, and some limited, yet very enjoyable, bowls. While I am categorically against the idea of paying extra for the Cirque territory, on the basis of personal hereditary frugality, and take further issue with its pompous name, $20 for a season’s worth of backcountry access is a small price.

Some of the best parts of this mountain are devoid of snow and can all be captured in two areas of the mountain: The Iron Horse chair lift and Mary Jane parking lot.

The lifties at this place have the same vibrations as endearing festivalgoers who have struck the perfect combination of highs to induce carefree, loving, and slightly ridiculous banter. These smiles can be the only thing between skiers like myself and tantrum-style mental collapse after a couple runs of self-abuse.

The parking lot also helps patrons maintain sanity. Lawn chairs, downing IPAs and easy-going couples counter the joyful mania of stray dogs and children running around.

If you make the trip to Winter Park, my only advice is to be properly armed and well-informed.   

1 Comment

  1. Happened to stumble upon this article. I love it!

    As someone who has skied my whole life, and as someone who skis Winter Park/Mary Jane every day I have off during the winter, I know the mountain like the back of my hand. So I have little perspective of what is like to ski it for the 1st time. I recently started skiing with a bunch of friends who have moved to Colorado, and what you wrote perfectly reflects their experiences on the mountain. Luckily for them, my fiance and I can act as a guide and keep them going that meets their skill level, but without that kind of insight, the mountain would be daunting and, as you stated, punishing. Hope you enjoyed your time on the mountain!

    Lastly, what you wrote about the Iron Horse lifties cracks me up. You hit it right on the nose! And they are like that EVERY DAY.

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