Alpine Valley – White Lake

Alpine Valley Ski Area has been one of the leading areas in southeastern Michigan for many years. Not too far from the Highland Recreation area, where Teeple Hill was an early  alpine skiing location, Alpine Valley has a slope known as Teeple View. From the top, you should be able to see Teeple Hill about 1.5 mi. to the southwest.

On Feb. 3, 1966, The Cass City Chronicle printed the AAA Guide to Winter Sports in Michigan, listing Alpine Valley with 9 slopes, 2 chairs, 4 T-Bars, 12 tows, snowmaking, night skiing, skating, and ski jumping. By Dec. 30, 1976, 1977 Guide to Michigan’s 58 Ski Areas listed Alpine Valley as having 16 slopes, 9 chairs, and 10 ropes. That was a big expansion and big competition for Teeple Hill which was still open that year.

Here are three Alpine Valley ski patches that have been sent to us by various correspondents. As there are several Alpine Valley Ski Areas in the US, we are not sure which, if any, (or maybe all) of these may be representative of Alpine Valley East in White Lake. If you know, please tell us.

AVpatch-VAAVEpatch-VA

Alpine Valley patch

AVEPatchIf you have any information about the development of alpine skiing in southeastern Michigan, please post it or send it to us via the directions on the About MILSAP page.

9 Responses to Alpine Valley – White Lake

  1. Trucker Mark says:

    I skied Alpine Valley a lot as a kid. When we started skiing there Alpine only had two chairlifts and two t-bars, plus some rope tows. I remember that the “expert” run in front of the lodge was served by a rope tow up its left side. I remember when some gal got her hair caught in the rope and it lifted her right off of the ground. The two t-bars ran side by side and were later replaced by two double chairs that ran side-by-side, and eventually another slope was built with a double chair toward Highland Rd. The last slopes that Alpine Valley built before we moved to Ohio were their new expert slope that sloped to the north off of the top of the old advanced double chair, and another easier slope and chair east of the lodge was built then too. The last year that I skied Alpine, 1974 or 1975, I remember taking a bunch of high-speed runs down the expert hill nonstop.

    • Bob Cowen (Alpine Valley Ski Patrol, since 1963) says:

      Mark: I was the ski patroller who cut the little girl’s hair that had become entangled in the rope tow (if it’s the same incident). She was at the top of rope #4 on the east side of the beginner’s area. I heard and saw the activity at the top of the hill but the rope was stopped; I was at the bottom. I skated to the other rope that went up that hill (now removed) and got to the top. Two men were holding her so she was not being suspended by her hair. I asked them how long they could hold her. They replied that she was light and they could hold her. i asked her (8-12 years old) if she wanted me to try to save her hair. She replied “no” so I took my knife and cut her hair along the rope. They lowered her; I examined her scalp and saw no evidence of trauma. I handed her her hair and she skied away.

      That experience (more than 20 years ago) is taught to every patroller whenever I go with them to the beginners area. Ropes tend to twist and I warn everyone with long hair, scarves (wrapped around their neck), etc. to be sure to keep it tucked in. The young girl was very, very lucky and the two men who helped were at the right place at the right time. It could have been much worse.

      • Trucker Mark says:

        I am afraid that the incident that I remember was on the former mogul hill rope tow that ran up the left side of the slope when you are facing uphill. I remember once losing a mitten to a rope tow somewhere too. Like you said, the rope is twisting all the time and it took my mitten right off once too. The incident that I remember the gal was probably a teenager and her long hair got caught in the rope, and just lucky the safety line shut it down at the top with her hanging there by her hair maybe 4-5 feet off the ground.

        One time back in the 1970s I was on the old advanced chair when some other gal skied straight down the upper part of the old advanced hill and went straight into the woods above the top of the mogul hill about halfway down where the main part of the trail curved around to the left heading downhill, completely out of control, and got hurt pretty bad too.

        In my mid 20s I was a lift operator at Beaver Creek, CO and while they didn’t have any ropetows I have lots of good stories about loading and unloading crashes involving their Dopplemyer chairlifts that I worked during the winter of 1983-84 too. Did you know that I saw Robert Redford go around the upper bullwheel once there and get tossed out of the chair before my partner got him in the shin with a snowrake? I’ll bet that he remembers that too!

        I’ll never forget that day I was loading on the old Birds of Prey double at the Creek, which we had running with a full weekend load at 575 feet per minute, and only 5 & 1/2 seconds between chairs, when two guys came out to the load board, and 3 seconds later two more drunks came out, and while I hit stop before the chair got there, it still hit all four of them at full speed and knocked the first two guys flying about 20 feet out in front of the loading station into the deep snow, while the two drunks ended up on the chair but without any of their ski equipment, and the chair kept running for another 50 foot of line at least, before the tension carriage went flying back and forth above my head and the counterweight bottomed out, lucky that accident didn’t damage the lift or throw anyone off their chair too!

        Yes, skiing and riding lifts can be dangerous if you aren’t careful, that’s for sure!

  2. Yeah, we grew up just down the road. Raced for WLC there. I jumped off the chair and landed in a tree once. There are songs that pop up from time to time on the radio that put me on the tow rope in front of the lodge where the bumps were; that was in the mid 70’s. I remember how significant it was to get our certification patches to be able to get up to Galcier; that was huge back then. Sported the Expert Patch around school for weeks after. Funny stuff and great memories from there.

  3. Mark Dixon says:

    Our high school ski club (Northville) went to Alpine Valley every Monday night. What a riot. This was in the late 60’s. The “Mogul” hill right in front of the lodge was our fun. Short but sweet. I remember one night we talked this girl who was really a beginner to “go for it” and take the rope up the “Mogul” hill and “Cowgirl Up”. She was freaking out at the top but went for it anyway…straight down….no turns….wobbly but still standing she built up speed…reaching the bottom at break neck speed she never stopped but hit the ski rack full of skis in front of the lodge at a “Full Tilt Boogie” shredding her at the knees as she flew under the cross members….skis flew….she went down like a limp rag….all of us still standing at the top of the hill watching thought for sure she was dead….OMG! We flew down immediately to her aid, finding she was alive, unhurt, only shaken up by her rendezvous with hell!! I’ll never forget that. Boy, were we bad….very, very bad…..

  4. Susan Jarvis says:

    we were bad…yes…I took my boyfriend up to the top of Mt Brighton-Big Risky-told him to go for it—straight down half way down-explodes! Ski patrol carried him away with a broken leg…of course it was my fault…it was always a risk you took……:)

    Sue from Mt Brighton

  5. MILSAP says:

    Submitted on 2015/03/23 by Mike at 11:29 am | In reply to geoff smith.
    Geoff, weren’t you the master of the mogul hill at Alpine during the 60s? (copied from the About MILSAP page to the Alpine Valley page).

    • Geoff Smith says:

      Alas, that was not me. My high school ski racing years were all at Mt. Holly. I skied for Bloomfield Hills. Prior to high school my family skied at Mt Christie and “Doc” my dad, was one of the original Teeple Hill ski patrollers. I raced for the University of Colorado (two letters) before returning to start the racing programs at Mt. Brighton in December 1969. After graduation from law school I recruited another Michigander (Walloon Lake) and CU alum, Tom Gratsch to take over. Ultimately Ted Lockwood (Traverse City), a US National Team member, took it over and moved the program up to Traverse City. Most of the kids who wanted to train for USSA racing consolidated into George Frisch’s program at Alpine Valley. Many great skiers and racers got their start in these programs.

      • Mark says:

        Geoff Smith coached me a once when he started the CUSSA races at Brighton to help out kids to move up in rank before having to travel “up north” to race. I started out learning to ski at Alpine Valley and then moved over to race with Tom Gratsch at Mt. Brighton. Boy, do I have lots of stories about skiing with Tom as a coach. I remember him taking several off us kids out to Colorado one Fall in the mid 70s to train for a week at Eldora and race in a Can-Am race at Vail. I had sprained my ankle playing soccer a few weeks prior to going and was doubtful to make the trip. But a great doctor friend of my parents offered to give me ultra sound treatments on my ankle. Since this doctor was an animal vet, I sat on the dog table while he treated me. Yes, Doc Smith was my hero back then, as I made the trip. Doc and Granny were wonderful people and dear friends to my parents and to the Blizzard Ski Club family. A highlight of my young racing days was when CUSSA brought in Cary Adgate in the early 70s to race at Thunder one weekend. He helped out lowering the FIS points but kicked our butts. He was a flawless skier. I also remember some crazy nights at Alpine Valley skiing with the son of the owner. Brian could tear it up!

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