Return to the SLU Snow Bowl

Just south of South Colton, New York, where Route 56 weaves through a little ravine, there was a one-way bridge with a stop light. As a student at St. Lawrence University, I’ve probably spent a full hour of my life waiting at that light on trips to Big Tupper or Gore or home to Saratoga Springs.

SLU Snow Bowl
Photo courtesy of Terkoskier at Blood, Sweat and Skiers

I first noticed the Snow Bowl during my Freshman year. Behind the brook on the west side of the road, I noted potential. There are a few clearings down the fall line of a fairly steep, small mountain.

By the end of that year, I had heard all the stories. That was the SLU Snow Bowl, only closed and sold to the state in the last ten years. It had been home to a couple of rope tows, a snack bar, and some of the most raging college parties in history.

St Lawrence Snow Bowl party
Photo courtesy Huggy Bear and

The Outing Club used to host an annual grand-scale kegger there, and in the 1990s Playboy published a piece about The Bowl in their “Top 5 College Parties of the Year.”

That party still exists, only now the Outing Club rents out the lodge at Titus Mountain and buses half of the student body to the event. Last Saturday was the First Ever Fourth Annual Great Mount Titus North Country Global Cooldown Weekend Event. Don’t ask.


On the way to the Outing Club meet up, I saw my buddy Paxton walking the road, carrying his snowboard. I rolled down the window and yelled “Get in the car!” I ended up bringing three more people as part of a five-vehicle caravan to the legendary Snow Bowl.

It’s only fitting that we had a chance to ski the Bowl during the best snowfall we’ve seen up here in over a month. I woke up for class last Thursday to a healthy six inches on the ground and wondered if the forecast for more would hold true. It did.


Twenty of us spent the afternoon picking from a variety of chutes and lapping up the fresh powder, which had reached a foot in depth by the time we arrived. There wasn’t much base under the new snow, but we made the best of it and had a blast until dusk.

I’d like to think we were the largest crowd to ski there since those mythical, glory days of small-scale skiing and epic partying.

13 comments on “Return to the SLU Snow Bowl

  1. Showing my age but I ran gates w the SLU ski team back in 1976. Short but steep run, great slalom training. Last time I was there was in 02 or 03. Hiked up w my son and some friends and Snowboarded down. Quite overgrown but still fun. Too bad so many of these little Hill are now defunct.

  2. The SLU Snow Bowl looks incredibly cool in a Hickory Ski Center kind of way. I’m curious about vert, pitch and annual snowfall. Anyone have any numbers?

  3. Love the last picture. Hopefully this begins a great new tradition that will introduce people to human powered skiing. Well done.

  4. Harv, Vert can’t be more than 200-250 tops, but the middle of the hill has a really short steep pitch. The first picture posted looks like the old ski jump landing area, yeah they actually held nordic jumping events there back in the day. I think it was only a 20 meter jump? Not sure. Snowfall was pretty variable, hill sits just outside the Blue Line of the Adirondack Park, NW foothills of the Dacs. Sometimes it could get hit w Lake effect if the wind was just right. Generally to far North and West for Noreasters.

  5. Yeah, I would say maybe 300 vert top to bottom and that might be a stretch. The storm last week actually hit there really nicely. I’d say they got about 20″, definitely a lot more than Whiteface. The jump landing was a lot of fun to ski- actually quite steep for a reasonable length. I was talking to a guy in Potsdam about the place the other day and he said the rope tow they had (or maybe he said t-bar, I forget) was really fast so you could get a ton of runs in. In between the main ski run and the jump landing there’s a pretty wide bowl area with a lot of little chutes through the trees to poke around in. It’s got enough vert and terrain to explore to actually have fun spending a day there, and I’d say it’s about the smallest place I’ve ever seen that meets that requirement.

  6. Yep the old Snow Bowl was a favorite haunt back in the day. The Queen of the Hop and i, plus our 2 little kids used to run that place several times a season.

    We also loved the competitive XC trail system across the road. Back in the day many sanctioned events Winter Carnival events were held there and it TOO had a great downhill run to it. The old lodge is rotting away there and the ski jump towers have seen better times too.

    Glad you young guns got to run it, someday go over to Parishville, near the SB and skin and run the old Clarkson University venue known as SEVEN SPRINGS. We also skied that one many times.

    Bob “AX” Axtell the legendary SLU ski coach was in his heyday back then. AC was just inducted in the Hall of Fame at SLU.

  7. Yes it was a T bar. I got alot of turns in there from ’73-’77. There was a bus that took SLU students to the bowl every afternoon. I even remember skiing waist deep powder at the “bowl”.

  8. I was on the Syracuse University ski team 1950-1954. At that time we ran all four events:slalom, downhill, cross country and jumping. I have jumped th St. L. hill many times. As I recall, the jump was considered to be about a 50 or 55 meter hill. It was considered a good hill, on a par with Middlebury, and UVM and other New England universities.

    Incidentally, I went to high school with Bob Axtell and we were on the high school ski team together.

  9. Hi my Uncle Julius ( Bud ) Hefty moved from New England to South Colton to run the Snow Bowl in the early 50s. We drove from Essex Mass to South Colton when I was eight or nine. It was late summer and we had a great time. I can remember that Bud and his young family where having a rough time making it and he went to work on the Racket River Project and then he did a part time job running the Snow Sports at Dry Hill in Watertown. Bud was in the 10th Mountain Division in WW 2. I just found this site.

  10. Back in the day………1964-1968 we would jump on the bus to the Ski Bowl after class, and ski on the old Heads and Harts, and often watch the jumping. Terry Aldrich? What ever happened to jumper Terry Aldrich?
    The skiing was skiing, not plentiful or spectacular, but it was snowy and downhill, which was all that mattered at the time. Parties? We didn’t need to party at the Snow Bowl, as there was plenty of warmer partying back on campus where the fraternities still survived. What a life? I’m still not sure how well it prepared us for the real world.
    Hockey team lost to Cornell (Dryden) 4-2, which was the tragedy of the year.

  11. I’m really enjoying those memories, Peter—thanks for sharing them. And as far as I can tell, it looks like Terry Aldrich had a nice long run coaching nordic skiing at Middlebury before retiring in 2007.

  12. I ski raced for Clarkson in the late 70s and SLU’s SnoBowl was the best little ski area ever, dirt cheap and seriously steep. Back then you had to compete in Slalom, a 5 or 10km Nordic race (?) and the 35m jump. Because engineers are too smart to ski jump the coach gave me a pair of 235 jumping skis… but having huge feet no proper jump boots would fit so I took a hacksaw to my workboots until they fit into the cable binding. I managed to get up the hill and to the top of the in-run, mounted the skis and paused. They were too heavy and I was too scared to jump and swing them 90º downhill. Instead I swung 85º and dragged my hands while squatting and screaming. Went off the lip sideways and fell onto the flat section of dirt before the steep outrun. I survived and qualified for 3-events! But then I was left to get down the super steep outrun straight lining these 50-pound skis….

    FWIW I finished last in Nordic too, a former football lineman mesomorph on 210 Lovett skis and Bill Koch Adidas boots and bindings. Finished second in the Slalom but couldn’t overcome the rest ;-p

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