With a tagline like “No Pain No Jane,” it’s no wonder most skiers and riders avoid Mary Jane Mountain –named after a famed prostitute, but also a slang term for marijuana. The whole mountain seems to ooze FORBIDDEN like a red circle with a line through it. Who needs steep, relentless, Volkswagen-size bumps when sister resort, Winter Park, is right next door with all its nicely groomed cruisers and terrain parks?
There are two main reasons: high-speed six-pack lifts and lack of crowds. Many get to a point in their skiing/riding where long lift lines and an over-saturation of idiots are no longer acceptable. They’re over being nearly killed by unskilled gapers flying down crowded slopes. Fake “villages?” Meh. Pay parking and shuttle busses? Screw that!
Some escape the Big Resort scene by hiking or snowmobiling the backcountry, or they trade their boards for Nordic gear. The rest quietly head to The Jane where they fall hopelessly in love with every curve and glade; they make passionate love to her again and again … each time unique and memorable; and they speak of her in reverence, as they fight to the death to keep her free parking lots and un-groomed territory the way it is.
These are the diehard Janers, who can ski or ride anything this mountain can dish out – in any weather. True Janers are admirable … and scary (safety tip: don’t get between a Janer and a chairlift on a powder day). They would prefer that the public not know that the Jane isn’t all steep bumps, so shhhh … keep these insider tips under your parka.
Mary Jane for the Rest of Us
Is there any way to enjoy Mary Jane’s favors if you have less than stellar knees, or you avoid bumps whenever possible? Believe it or not, you can ski all the way from her 12,600-foot summit to the parking lot without encountering a single mogul! In fact, Mary Jane has a beginner lift, Galloping Goose, with zero lift lines for only $10 a day! It’s not the ideal place for first-time snowboarders to learn, as the slope is somewhat slanted, but it’s not bad for the price and within walking distance from the parking lot.
After wasting only seven minutes on the Super Gauge six-pack lift to whisk you to the top of Mary Jane, Panoramic Lift (“Pano”) brings you above treeline in another seven and a half minutes. Like a cat, Pano offers its charms on its own terms. It can open or close at any time, and sometimes it stays closed for days due to high winds and whiteout conditions. The official snow stake is on the Park side, so whatever the resort reports for new snowfall, add another 2 to 3 inches to Parsenn Bowl.
“Pano Heads” will sometimes ride on the slower-than-molasses-in-January Sunnyside Lift while waiting for ski patrol to finish avalanche control work. Sunnyside offers lots of blue terrain and glades, and some of the happiest lifters in the whole state (makes you wonder what they have for breakfast).
If Pano is open, go early. In the mountains, winds tend to increase as the day progresses. (Daily closing time for this lift is 3:00). You can descend entirely on groomed intermediate trails, or, if there’s fresh snow, dive into the fairly widely spaced trees. The views are incredible on Parry’s Peek, the farthest south of the Parsenn Bowl trails, leading to fun, not-so-gnar-gnar trees.
It’s steep in the middle of the bowl, but everything else is doable for an intermediate. If you lose your friends in the trees, you can find them again on Edelweiss Trail, which leads back to the base of Pano.
There’s no better place on earth to be on a huge pow day than doing laps on a high-speed six-pack lift above treeline, scoping out your next untracked line! No matter how depressing your finances are or how irritating your roommates or coworkers are … for this moment, you rule the universe!