As a faithful, every weekend, skier in Ontario, I had a lot of trepidation about trying Blue Mountain.  Although it has a much larger vertical drop that most Ontario hills, it also has a reputation for being a bit over-hyped. With its mini-Tremblant village, and its pervasive advertising, Blue Mountain can feel like it is trying a bit too hard to make visitors feel like they are someplace larger.

 

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We have visited Blue Mountain in the offseason before, and loved the Westin's outdoor pool complex and the brunch at their Oliver and Bonacini location. We rode the mountain coaster and explored the village, which was charming. However, we have avoided skiing there, worried about whether the extra feet of terrain are worth the longer lift lines and crowded hill.

This weekend we decided to give it a shot, making the trek out to Blue for a day of spring skiing. The drive itself was long, thanks in part to segments of the trip where it is a single lane with few alternatives. To make matters worse, the road in and out is lined with billboards reminding you of how long the lines will be and encouraging you to visit other hills, like Horseshoe, instead. In the end, the drive took just under two hours, with no real traffic. 

On arriving at Blue we were lucky to find parking quickly, in lot 3. However, it became clear quickly that the amenities at the base by lot 3 were a little limited.  The ticket window was closing, and the cafeteria was locking up at 3:30.  Clearly, the heart of the village, by lot 2, has a lot more to offer.

 

The best part of our arrival was the welcoming Blue Ambassador, who went out of his way to ensure we understood where we were and how to best get around. In fact, all the staff we encountered was friendly and happy to help, which helped make the larger resort footprint manageable.

Another plus was the hill itself. With longer runs, enviable variety, and very fast lifts, it is easy to see why Blue is head's above other smaller hills in the region. The snow conditions were better than expected, with only patches of ice, and generally granular machine-groomed snow. The softer snow created some lumpy patches, and the warm conditions created some gaps in the base, but there were clear markers showing the areas to avoid and lots of space to avoid the problems.

Overall, Blue Mountain proved it lived up to its hype. The longer runs, the faster lifts, and the variety of terrain made for a full day that was challenging enough for everyone in our party, even the glade-obsessed speed demon. While the price is high, it is a pretty clear case of getting what you've paid for.