Tag Archives: Skiing

December 16, 2013 Whitetail recap

Snowdancer
MERCERSBURG, Pa. — The cold late November and December has given ski areas across the Mid-Atlantic a head start on their seasons. That and a combination of use-it-or-lose-it vacation time led me to Whitetail for my first ever December skiing.

Difficult traffic getting out of Northern Virginia delayed my arrival until 11 a.m. I was surprised to see about 100 cars in the parking lot. There was no line to get lift ticket and rental throughout the process. I went with some 170s instead of my usual 160s to see how I would do.

empty whitetail

I started on the green slopes serviced by the EZ Rider Quad lift. A run down Snow Park or Stalker confirmed that I had not yet done enough wall-sits, but I would be okay. It got a little sticky at the bottom though which was an omen for the day.

Having limited time and eager to challenge myself more, I headed over to the Whitetail Express Quad and started skiing on the trails on the middle of the mountain. Fanciful was in pretty good shape on the top 2/3s, but slowed me up at the bottom with its fresh, ungroomed machine made snow. Getting back to the lift was work. It was a good run though and probably had the most consistent conditions of the day. After a few runs on Fanciful, I headed over to Snow Dancer which mostly more of the same, but a little uneven snow-wise. After a run or two, I was able to find better paths to keep my momentum going close to the lift. Next, I head to the right of WEQ and skied down Homerun which was satisfying. Limelight was closed and several days from being ready, even with continuous snow-making in progress.

I next took Angel Drop into the Drop, but made the mistake of heading onto Fallmount instead of over to the black diamonds. Fallmount might as well be cross country skiing because it nearly completely flat. I gave up and picked up the skis, dropped $9.84 on chicken tenders & fries basket and a Pepsi at the cafeteria.

Exhibition and Ridge Runner

For the second half of the day, it was another couple of runs down Homerun and Angel Drop and then over to the Experts Choice Quad. Exhibition and Bold Decision were the only two open. I took a few runs down Exhibition, then moved over to Ridgeline to head back onto Angel Drop. Following that, I head over to Bold Decision which was deserted, ungroomed and sticky. It was the toughest run of the day and not in a fun way. Going down it felt like a chore and I took a minor tumble. I hope the groomers got it for skiers later in the week.

Running out of time, I skied Ridgeline back to the middle of the mountain and completed the day with a trip down Homerun.

OTHER NOTES

Lift ticket and rentals cost me $105 and included a lesson that I did not use.

snowmaking
Snow guns were in use throughout the day, despite periods of bright sunshine. Getting a little blast from them was no big deal.

The lodge reminds me of a college dining hall more than a ski lodge, but the lack of alpine ambiance is no big deal because the features are above average for mid-Atlantic resorts, though it is worth mentioning Whitetail is dry.

Some of the trails had only about 60% of the surface area available for skiing since it is early in the season.

Grading on a curve because it was mid-December, I award Whitetail a on a scale of green circle being the lowest and black diamond being the highest. More grooming was needed and Bold Decision probably should not have been open. Overall, I was pretty happy to knock another month skied in off my list. Also, with 935 feet of vertical drop, Whitetail is the best option for a quick trip from the DC area. I may be back to teach my son how to ski if the weather cooperates.

GETTING THERE

Whitetail is about 75 miles from the Capital Beltway (I-495) via I-270, I-70, MD 68 and Blair Valley Road (watch your speed).


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2013-2014 Mid-Atlantic ski season preview

Bottom of the mountain
Halloween is over, we had frost at the end of last week and there were even scattered reports of snow flurries in BeltwayLand. Let’s start thinking about skiing.

DCSki.com, whose owner I profiled in 2012, has been redesigned. You can follow them on Facebook too.

Big Boulder in the Poconos, where I skied more than any other place before it primary shifted to snowboarders, opened on Friday, November 15. It was only one lift and one trail, but they did it, the ninth year in a row they were the first in the Poconos to open (timesleader.com).

Timberline, which I skied last winter, has had snowfall and has their snow guns blowing. Opening date – December 12.

Elsewhere in West Virginia, Snow Shoe plans to open November 27. That’s less than two weeks away! They had 8½ inches of snow as of Friday night.

My favorite place to ski in the Poconos, Camelback, is celebrating their 50th season and begun snowmaking on November 12, according to Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association

Hunter Mountain in New York State is also making snow. I have discussed going up there with a friend this year — we were thinking of it last year but several factors led us to Timberline.

Some other places I have skied over the years: Jack Frost, Whitetail, Blue Knob

No word on when the closest resorts – Liberty, Roundtop and Whitetail will open.

GETTING READY

As always, I’m getting ready with daily exercises, specifically wall-sits. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful just a few minutes every day improves both the experience and my ability.

Another thing, if you don’t own your own equipment, rent locally. There are two big advantages of renting your skis near where you live:

1.) Renting in advance allows more time on the day you go skiing. Doing the paperwork on a weeknight in an empty, warm ski shop is better than doing it packed, chilly ski area. It is probably cheaper too.

2.) Your boots are warm when you put them on, as opposed to putting on the ski area rentals that have been sitting in a room that is 45°.

Also, wear a helmet. it keeps your head safer and is nice and warm.

A FINAL NOTE

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Eastern Pennsylvania ski resorts hanging in there

Pa. ski resorts adapt to the mild conditionsThe Inky
Another season of poor snowfall isn’t holding back the ski areas in Eastern Pennsylvania like as much as last year. Cold nights have allowed for
snow-making even though the days have been a bit warm. Just a new normal it seems.

Seven Springs and other Western Pennsylvania ski areas seem to be fairing okay — they have had actual snow out there.

Southern Pennsylvania resorts are reporting “loose, granular” which I think means the slopes are covered in gravel.

I was supposed to go skiing today, but the temperatures in the 50s everywhere made me change my plans. Perhaps next weekend will work out better.

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Northeast ski areas wonder “Where is the snow?”

In mid-December, I was in Pennsylvania for the first portion of in-laws Christmas. I was pleased to see that there was snow at Ski Roundtop and Liberty Mountain. Since then though, it hasn’t been good early winter for Northeast ski resorts. NPR reported that it was a “brown Christmas” for the Adirondacks. New England and Pennsylvania weren’t faring much better, though apparently Camelback in Poconos had “ice” the weekend after Christmas. Tussey Mountain, near State College, was bare though (WJAC wearecentralpa.com).

Driving back from in-laws Christmas part two, it looked like Roundtop had a significant amount of snow, enough to be open or close to it. Liberty, the closest ski area to D.C. was in much worse shape with some slopes completely brown. Cold weather is coming, so those snow guns will be working again.

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Ski Cherokee: I-66′s lost ski resort

Every once in a while, I have recalled there being a ski resort somewhere off of Interstate 66 about 20 years ago. I never went there, but was curious if my memory was accurate. Recently, I was able to get the right search terms together and came up with this from DCSki.com: Mid-Atlantic Lost Ski Areas: Ski Cherokee. In short, Ski Cherokee was a tiny ski area near Linden (Exit 13) which is about 62 miles from the Washington D.C. border. There wasn’t much to it (one chairlift) and the lifespan was short with warm winters being part of the blame. The area is being turned into a housing development. Oh what could have been!

Anybody make it out to Ski Cherokee during its run?

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