BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff
For the past few weeks, snow-making machines have been busy dropping man-made snow on the slopes at Whitetail Ridge Ski Area at Fort McCoy preparing the runs for skiers, snowboarders and snow tubers.
Those machines, as well as natural snow from the recent snowstorms, helped prepare the ski area in the Pine View Recreation Area to open Tuesday, Dec. 27 at noon, said Recreational Specialist Alex Karis with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Staff members began making snow in November, Karis said. “It’s started to be cold enough, and we want to start getting a good base on the tubing hill,” he said in late November.
Speaking of the tubing hill, in 2021 a big project was completed there to improve the hill so the trails could be improved for the 2021-22 season. During late summer and early fall 2021, work was completed on the tubing hill that included adding more dirt and reshaping the hill.
Karis said the upgrade helped.
“With the dirt foundation there now, we’re able to get the top area of tubing hill done in a more reasonable timeframe,” Karis said. “Additionally, we will be able to concentrate on the ski hill side of the operations at a faster rate. We have limited snowmakers and ability to make snow, so the focus is always tubing first but having that landscaping improvement makes a difference.”
The landscape improvement also helped with more tubing lanes. “By having a more solid base with the dirt, we were able to angle the lanes better to accommodate more lanes,” Karis said.
“When we put the Magic Carpet in, we ended up clearing out a bunch of trees and then over the last couple of summers we’ve added more dirt to make almost like a second drop off to come down and extended the run and then on the bottom side we’ve actually done some work to level out the bottom and make a little bit of a runoff on the tubing hill,” Karis said. “So, there’s no more dangerous ice while in the end. So now the tubing run itself is almost 1,500 feet. It’s a great run.”
The ski area also offers downhill skiing and snowboarding for both novice and experienced athletes. The ski hill features a 185-foot vertical drop and a self-loading T-bar. It also offers a terrain park for snowboarders.
For snowtubing, ride up to the top of the hill on the Magic Carpet, then slide down one of five 800-foot-long runs. Tubers must be 38 inches tall, or their parents must sign a waiver.
The tubing hill was relandscaped during the previous summer and fall, adding more dirt and reshaping the hill. The improvements mean less snow is needed to create a smooth base for tubing, plus additional runs are now available.
Whitetail Ridge also offers cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails. Trails are groomed and free to use, but equipment is available to rent, if needed, Karis said.
The chalet and Ten Point Pub offer a warm break from outside activities. Relax inside and take advantage of the snack bar menu, which features sandwiches, appetizers, pizza, and drinks.
The area is typically open through mid-March, if weather permits.
Pine View Recreation Area facilities are open to the general public. Discounts are generally offered to military members or Department of Defense civilian employees. A visitor’s pass, military ID, or Department of Defense ID is not required to access the recreation area.
Prices for the 2022-2023 season are available at https://mccoy.armymwr.com/programs/whitetail-ridge-ski-area Call 608-388-4498 for more information.
PHOTO CAPTION: Snow tubers enjoy the slopes at Fort McCoy’s White Tail Ridge Ski Hill. (Photos by Fort McCoy MWR)