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January 2016

Mountain Spy :: January 2016



Written by Liz Mettler | 0 comment

In this month’s mission, we broach the delicate subject of sledding. Though a seemingly simple question, the responses vary tremendously. As always, a personable response carries the day. Send Liz Mettler ( your questions and, if we use one, win the immunity challenge for one issue!


First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Male.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Good thing you called, because it is a big deal.

SAM: Ha ha, OK…

Staff: Yeah, they do not allow sledding of any kind on the mountain. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go sledding. So your older son, is he in ski school?

SAM: No, he’ll be skiing on his own.

Staff: OK, yeah, so are you familiar with our town?

SAM: A little bit.

Staff: Yeah, so there is a park in town and it’s called Z Park and it’s set up for sled riding. It’s on X street, which is right in town. There’s a dog park and basketball court and then a sledding hill that’s set up. You walk up the left along the fence, and then sled down on the righthand side.

SAM: So that’s driving distance from the resort?

Staff: Yeah, it’s right in town.

SAM: Can I park at the resort?

Staff: Um, depending on where you go. If your older son leaves from the village then for sure. You could also always drop your older son off at the gondola and then drive to the park, because it’s free parking there. Do some sledding, grab some food, and then pick your older son up.

SAM: OK. But if I didn’t go to that park, there’s no little side area somewhere that—

Staff: Yeah, no, sorry. They’ll be all over you, because it’s 100 percent not permitted at the ski area.

SAM: Got it. Well thanks for the park info!

Staff: Sure thing. And the exact address is 250 X Street.

SAM: Thanks!

Rating: 9

Comment: High points for both stating the rules clearly and providing an alternative.


First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: I’m not sure about that. Let me check. One moment.


Staff: Hi, thanks for holding. So, unfortunately, we don’t have an area for sledding.

SAM: Even if it’s super tucked off to the side, where it doesn’t interfere with skiers or snowboarders?

Staff: Um, no. That’s not allowed, either.

SAM: Hmm. Even though you’re on Forest Service land it’s still not allowed? Like, anywhere?

Staff: Um, let me check, hold on.


Staff: Thanks for holding. So, we do not allow sledding in the village, either. Pretty much nowhere. Silence…

SAM: OK. So no sledding.

Staff: Sorry about that. We’re planning to build a sledding area, but it won’t be ready until next season.

SAM: No worries, thanks.

Rating: 5

Comment: It’s always nice to double check. Even twice. It’s also always nice to have a personable attitude, which she did not.


First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Let me verify that. Have you been here before?

SAM: A long time ago.

Staff: OK, please hold.


Staff: Thank you for holding. So, unfortunately, there is no area here at the mountain itself for sledding. If you wanted to you could go down the road to Z park.

SAM: Hmm. OK. I just want to go somewhere to the side, on a very small hill. I prefer not to be anywhere near skiers so I can assure you I will stay out of the way.

Staff: No, I understand. Because of our liability-slash-insurance reasons, we can’t allow any sledding on the property. Silence…

SAM: OK. No problem. So you said there’s a place down the road?

Staff: Yes. Z park. Silence…

Rating: 4

Comment: Plus 4 for the alternative option, minus 6 for the most unpleasant tone and attitude. You do realize I pay your salary, right?


First contact: Male.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yup. They actually prefer you do that at X ridge, because there is a little side area where you can do that. Silence…

SAM: Awesome. So just head over to X ridge and I can sled for free off to the side somewhere?

Staff: Yup! Silence…

SAM: Right on. Thanks!

Staff: No problem, have a good day.

Rating: 7

Comment: Well that was easy. Almost too easy.


First contact: Male.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Uh, there’s no place really, or—well, when were you going to come?

SAM: Oh gosh, I’m not sure yet.

Staff: Yeah, I mean there’s no place, really, to sled on your own when we don’t have any natural snow.

SAM: OK. What about when there is natural snow?

Staff: Yeah. There’s a little spot right across on the golf course that we let you use. Yup.

SAM: Oh, great! So while my oldest is skiing, I can go over there with my youngest?

Staff: Yeah, yeah, yup. If there’s snow, absolutely.

SAM: And it’s across the street from parking?

Staff: Yeah, it’s just right across the road here, yup.

Rating: 6

Comment: Got it. Yeah. Yup.


First contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, yes. I mean it’s across the parking lot, so it’s not right next to the ski slope.

SAM: What is? Where people go sledding?

Staff: Right. Tubing. And you can’t bring your sled, if that’s what you’re saying.

SAM: Well, I was just wondering if I could bring my own sled and play with him for just an hour or something off to the side.

Staff: Oooh. That’s not possible. But you wouldn’t want to have your other one ski for just an hour, either.

SAM: Right, but I figured while my older son is skiing one of the things I could do is go sledding for a bit.

Staff: Oooh. No. You can’t do that. But we do have the tubing hill, so…

SAM: OK. How old do the kids need to be?

Staff: We leave that up to parents. How old is he?

SAM: He’s 18 months.

Staff: 18 months. You know that might be a little young. (So it’s not really up to the parents?) You do need to ride in your own tube. We do have double tubes where you can link your legs over the top of their tube, but he would need to be, um… Silence…

SAM: That seems a little bit scary for someone so little. With my own sled I can put him in my lap, but you guys don’t allow that, huh?

Staff: Nooo, nooo.

SAM: Alright then, thanks.

Rating: 4

Comment: A little vague and unfocused all around. Excuse me for interrupting whatever it was you were doing.


First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, OK. As far as I know that’s not allowed anywhere on the ski runs, but let me put you through to the reservation center, and they might know of a spot. Just one second.


Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: It’s a big deal, actually. We do not allow any sledding at all on our mountain, unfortunately, for safety reasons.


Staff: But, you know what? In the X plaza they have this little hill there for sledding, and they have tobogganing there, and it’s really cool.

SAM: Cool. Is it free?

Staff: Of course! It’s just a small little bunny hill, so it’s very safe.

SAM: That’s great. Is it close to the lifts?

Staff: Yeah! Oh, yeah. It’s in the X plaza, where the Z shopping plaza is. Right in the village. So you walk towards the brewpub and then turn left, and then you’ll see the plaza. And, um, there’s also this small hill behind the Y building. It’s a tiny little hill. It’s a little rainy now, though. Are you here now?

SAM: No. We’ll be coming later this winter.

Staff: Oh, OK! That will work then. So it’s behind the Y building, which is a nice option as well. But the X plaza is a lot of fun. It just depends on what kind of snow we have when you’re here.

SAM: Great, thanks for all the info.

Staff: Of course! Let us know if there’s anything else you need when you’re here.

Rating: 10

Comment: Clear rules, clear description of the options, awesome attitude. We have a winner!

Identity Revealed: Whistler

Mountain 8, VT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yeah, they don’t allow sleds on the mountain at all. They only, well, we don’t allow sleds anywhere on the mountain, actually. We have a tubing hill, but unfortunately we don’t have enough snow yet, so it’s not open. So they don’t allow any sleds on the mountain, unfortunately. You know, perhaps this is a question for… I’m going to transfer you over to guest services.


Answering phone: Male.

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: Um, we have a tubing hill that you can purchase tickets for, but we don’t allow sledding on the mountain.

SAM: Hmm. Not even somewhere tucked away, that didn’t interfere with anyone? My youngest is very little so I’m not sure he’s big enough for the tubing hill yet.

Staff: Ummm, I’m going to say, “no” over the phone right now, because that’s our given policy. We don’t allow sledding. But like I said, once we get more snow our tubing park will be open.

SAM: OK then. I guess I’ll wait for more snow.

Rating: 6

Comment: A transfer is often helpful, even if it simply reiterates the resort’s policy.

Mountain 9, NY

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Let me just check for you, one moment.


Staff: I’m sorry about that, I’m just trying to get you the correct answer on that so we can be sure. Give me one more minute.


Staff: Hi there. You had a question about sledding…

SAM: Restated question.

Staff: Yeah, um, there’s no real area where it would work. Even in our beginner terrain, it goes down to the bottom, but skiers also have access. So in order to actually be on the snow you do need a lift ticket. So having a sled out there, a ski patroller would ask you to remove it from the snow. Anywhere there’s a trail it would not work.

SAM: Hmm, like not even off to the side where there aren’t any skiers? I wouldn’t want to be in the way of skiers anyway.

Staff: Anywhere there’s a ski trail. Unless we have a snowstorm, any snow on the mountain is designated as a ski trail. Anywhere skiers can access it. So in order to be out on that hill, um, technically a lift ticket is required, because it’s really a snow-access pass it’s not just to ride the chairlift. It’s to access the snow with your equipment on. So if you were out with a sled and a skier hit you, then you would be in the realm of the skiing and liability and all of that fun stuff. So we don’t allow sleds to be on the skier terrain.

SAM: Well, then, that makes sense. Thanks for clarifying.

Staff: Of course. Sorry about that!

SAM: No problem, thanks.

Rating: 8

Comment: Detailed information and sympathetic listener = high points.

Mountain 10, MT

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Umm, hold on just a second. Let me find out for you.


Staff: So, you are welcome to come up and sled now [early December], because it’s National Forest land and it’s available to the public. But once we open on Friday, there’s no uphill travel anywhere on the hill.

SAM: Hmm, OK, even if it’s somewhere off to the side that doesn’t interfere with skiers?

Staff: Not if you have to walk up a hill, sorry! That’s just our policy to keep everyone as safe as possible.

SAM: OK then. So you can’t walk up any hill.

Staff: Correct. Thanks for calling though!

Rating: 7

Comment: Short and sweet, paired with a very pleasant attitude.

Mountain 11, NC

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, you can’t actually sled on the slope.

SAM: OK, even if it’s off to the side where it doesn’t interfere with skiers? Like near the parking lot or something?

Staff: Yeah, but there isn’t any natural snow right now.

SAM: OK, well what about when you have natural snow?

Staff: Sure! As long as you’re not on the slope.

SAM: Cool. So as long as I’m not on a ski slope then it’s OK.

Staff: Yeah, well, now that I’m thinking of it. Where I suggest you take him is the free town sledding hill. Because if you try to sled on a hill near the parking lot, it’s just not going to be safe.

SAM: OK. Is that sledding hill is free?

Staff: Yup!

SAM: That could work. How far is it? I’m just thinking of my older son skiing.

Staff: Oh it’s just a two-minute drive at most.

SAM: Great, thanks.

Rating: 8

Comment: Patient, personable, and provided a safer alternative.

Mountain 12, QC

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.

Answering phone: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: I don’t understand the question.

SAM: I have two sons, and my older son will be skiing during the day. And I wanted to take my younger son sledding somewhere. And I wanted to make sure that was OK.

Staff: OK, the ski school is usually an all-day lesson you reserved?

SAM: No, um, none of my kids are in ski school. I just want to go sledding with one of my kids.

Staff: And your child is in ski school?

SAM: Nope. I have an older son who will go skiing by himself. And a younger son who I want to go sledding with.

Staff: How old is your older son?

SAM: He’s 14. He doesn't need ski school. I’m asking about sledding with my younger son.

Staff: OK, but when are you coming?

SAM: I’m not sure.

Staff: I see, but the sledding is not at the resort. It’s outside of the resort. The tubing area is about 15 minutes away.

SAM: Right, but I don’t want to go to the tubing area. He’s too little. I wanted to see if it was OK if I went sledding somewhere near the base area.

Staff: No. You cannot. It’s not allowed.

SAM: Even off to the side, where I’m not in the way of skiers?

Staff: No. Not on the mountain.

Comment: 4

Rating: It took all that time to arrive at a simple “no?” Sheesh