For the outsider (and sometimes the insider), the ski world is filled with a number of mysteries: How do you stop without any brakes? How do they make snow? And on a more practical level, why are restrooms always in the basement?
This begins the first of an occasional series on restroom facilities among Twin Cities ski areas. Today, let's start with Buck Hill.
For members of the general public, it has four restrooms: One in building that houses the main lodge, and three more in the one that houses the ski school and bar.
The Main Chalet hosts the food service area, and is the obvious place to head to when you need to go. Unfortunately, its restrooms are "ski area classic," which means they are downstairs. Snowboarders can more easily navigate the 16 steps up and down, though skiers will have a more difficult time of it. The stairway itself is narrow, so you may have to wait for it to clear before heading up or down.
The men's room was reasonably clean on the day I visited. It's a nice version of what you might find in an unfinished basement: Concrete walls with some sort of treatment on the floor to make it look slightly less industrial. There are four urinals (no partitions) and two stalls, with heavy, wooden doors. The washing area features two sinks and two soap dispensers, plus an automatic paper-towel dispenser.
The other three sets of restrooms are housed in a second building.
Since the ski school is the means by which Buck Hill hopes to entice people to say with the sport, it's no surprise that it has the nicest restrooms on the property. It has one handicapped-sized stall. The partition between the two urinals shows the first step up to a "higher class" restroom.
After you've done your business, don't forget to wash your hands! There are three soap dispensers. In a nice touch, one of them is closer to the counter level, to accommodate young skiers and riders.
It has two means of drying your hands: an automatic paper towel dispenser, and a hot-air machine. The room was reasonably well lit, and clean when I visited.
The party room, to the south of the ski school but in the same building, has its own set of restrooms. It has one stall (small) and one urinal. The counter showed evidence of water damage and needed to be clean. The room has an automatic towel dispenser, and one soap dispenser. The walls have the look of having been painted over and over and over, and the floor is perhaps the most unpleasant-looking one on the property.
If you're in the mood for a brew, head upstairs to Tucker Bar, which has its own set of restrooms. They're on par with the restrooms near the ski school, though not quite as nice. One stall, two urinals.
Obviously, nobody heads to a ski area simply to use the loo. But using the facilities is, for good or bad, part of the experience.