Taking advantage of a shortened school day to get ahead of the Holiday surge I took my wife and children skiing at Seven Springs, PA on January 18, 2008, the Friday before MLK weekend. Ironically, our arrival in snow country was delayed by the sloppy frozen precip that greeted the Washington, DC area that morning, but we got there in time for some good late afternoon skiing and a bunch of challenging runs under the lights.
Temperatures during our visit ranged from a sunny 30 degrees F down into the 20s as night fell. Snow conditions were good and Seven Springs had a fine variety of terrain open for business. Things were hopping Friday evening with a healthy crowd around the main base area although the Coca Cola Polar Bear Express six passenger chairlift and a half dozen other chairlifts in operation at Seven Springs gobbled-up any hint of a serious lift line.
The first thing we did was head to the North Face (the backside of the mountain) for a family warm-up on the long, quiet, green circle Lost Boy Trail. Then we did our best to test drive the various advanced runs in the North Face area. This terrain features a speed inducing headwall across one of the widest open expanses of skiable terrain in the mid-Atlantic, including classics such as Giant Steps, Gunnar Slope and the eponymous North Face Slope. These trails seem to blend together and in spots are separated by only a patch of hardwoods, a snowy knoll, or a sprinkling of evergreens along a mile or more of mountainside.
At one point my wife went into the Tahoe Lodge at the summit of the North Face for a warm up and a rather manly snack, a hot chili dog. There is no shortage of hearty fare at any of the many Seven Springs dining options. Later we all made a pass through the Arctic Blast Children’s Terrain Park while taking the easy Philip’s Run back to the main base lodge for more eats within earshot of the rocking Foggy Goggle Bar. Seven Springs is aggressively into terrain parks with no less then six parks or pipes positioned around the mountain ranging from small features in the children’s areas to some huge hits in the Spot Terrain Park for hardcore park rats.
By this time we were well into the night skiing session and my teenage son Vince and I paired off to find some moguls. Vince is eager to improve his mogul skiing skills, but we’ve both found in recent years that bump runs can be an endangered species at many ski areas. Not so at Seven Springs. There were several advanced trails on the front side of the mountain with significant mogul fieldss including Stowe, Avalanche and Goosebumps slopes.
Vince liked working the larger, tightly spaced bumps on a portion of Stowe. My old bones preferred the smaller, softer moguls on Goosebumps. There was a lot of elbow room on all the bumped-up areas as most guests stuck to groomers. Lift lines were negligible by 9 p.m. when we called it quits after about 90 minutes of mogul mashing.
This was my first visit to Seven Springs in five years. The place definitely has the feel of a first rate destination resort and shows no signs of relenting its position as one of the mid-Atlantic’s premier spots for snowriders. Part of the buzz at The Springs this year is the appointment of Iwan Fuchs as the new director of the Snowsports School. Although a young-looking family guy with a wife and three little rippers, Iwan (pronounced E-von) has more than 15 years experience as a ski professional in his native Switzerland and elsewhere in the mid-Atlantic. Did I mention that Iwan also writes as a guest columnist for DCSki.com in his spare time?
I spoke anonymously with an experienced Seven Springs instructor and asked her, “how’s it going with the new director?” She said, “very well, Iwan has brought a lot of energy and new ideas.” Speaking of the School’s new Technical Director, she said, “Bob Kuban is great too.” With Fuchs and Kuban at the helm, the new Snowsports School combines all segments of winter sports such as freestyle, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe tours, telemark skiing and children’s programs. The Tiny Tots Ski School, ranked as one of the best programs of its kind on the East coast, is also part of the new school.
Winter’s in full force at Seven Springs right now. The place is in high gear. If you’re looking for terrain variety, great park action, top notch instruction, and lively apres ski - look no further.
Husband, father and retired civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim's ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism's Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article.