SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING
VERNON – How would you like to ski at your own ski resort? You can. Simply join the Hidden Valley Club here in this quiet Sussex County community.
The Hidden Valley Club, you see, is actually the Hidden Valley Club ski resort (thehiddenvalleyclub.com), a relatively small semi-private ski area situated here in the shadow of the sprawling and well-known Mountain Creek ski area. As a semi-private New Jersey ski area, the Hidden Valley Club is not merely a members-only ski area. Non-members can ski here, too!
With an elevation of 1,450 ft. and a vertical drop of 640 ft., the Hidden Valley Club sports 13 trails serviced by two double-chairlifts, a triple-chairlift and a surface lift. Each trail has 100 percent snowmaking coverage. The ski area opened for business in 1976 as the Great Gorge-Vernon Valley ski resort.
“We’re just like a golf course at a country club,” explains Shannon Heidebrecht, Hidden Valley’s resort services director. “Anyone can ski here, but, like a country club, we have some facilities and services that are available only to our members.”
According to Heidebrecht, these VIP facilities and services include a private locker room, ski valet service, preferred member parking and lift access and a private dining room on weekends. What’s more, she adds, members receive lower rates than non-members on many club services.
“Members pay a small initial deposit and yearly dues of $950 for the first adult, $575 for the second adult, and $225 for each child aged six and over,” Heidebrecht says. “Children under six are free, and if the second adult doesn’t ski he or she pays only $100 to join.”
Membership today stands at a mere 50, according to Heidebrecht.
“The perfect number would be 250 members, which would allow us to be completely private,” Heidebrecht continues. “But for families, it’s just like having their own ski resort.”
Heidebrecht explains that, unlike many recreational ski areas, the Hidden Valley Club draws a slightly different demographic – the younger skier and snowboarder interested in its racing program.
“Our race program is the longest continually running program in the area, complete with exclusive facilities for the athletes,” Heidebrecht points out. “Our coaching staff is the largest in the area with the most cumulative years of coaching USSA programs, with ninety percent of the staff holding some level of USSA accreditation.”
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) is the national governing body of Olympic skiing and snowboarding. It is the parent organization of the U.S. Ski Team, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing.
“With the children’s learn-to-ski program, and our popular racing program, we’ve become a huge draw for families,” she says. “We offer a level of comfort that a family may not be able to find at a large ski resort. We’re a bit more slow-paced, not as intense and a lot less overwhelming for the beginner skier and snowboarder. In fact, parents don’t have to worry when their youngsters go off alone, because every ski trail leads back to our lodge.”
Heidebrecht says that one of the most popular trails here is Chicken Delight, a 1,900-ft.- long run with a gentle, non-threatening pitch that allows beginners to learn and practice their skills.
Heidebrecht, who is a member of the National Ski Patrol, adds that “we try to keep classes as small as possible so that learning to ski becomes a better experience for the youngster.”
SHORT SCHUSSES –
Belleayre Ski Center is nearby Highmount, N.Y., hosts its annual Winter Festival Week Jan. 21-29. It will feature a children’s winter carnival and torchlight parade on Saturday, Jan. 21, with a mid-week lift ticket going for only $20. If snowshowing is your game, head for the 7th annual Peak Snowshoe Challenge March 2-3 in Pittsfield, Vt. It’s a 100-mile beast. This Sunday, Jan. 15, it’s the Women Specific Ski Clinic at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, Me. – a clinic designed for women and conducted by women.
Next Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 19-22, top winter athletes from around the world will descend on Killington Resort in Vermont to compete in freeskiing and snowboarding in the Winter Dew Tour. On tap at the event: live concerts, products to try, athlete autograph signings and more. It may not be snowing these days in New Jersey, but it’s always snowing somewhere close. Here’s a report from Lake Placid in the Adirondacks: “Heavy snow delayed the start of Saturday’s World Cup two-man bobsled race for two hours, and poor visibility forced officials to cancel the race’s second run.”