Firsthand Report: Massanutten 4
By M. Ethan Ross, Guest Contributor

Last week my wife and I decided to ski Massanutten Resort for the first time, and we enjoyed the beautiful drive through the Shenandoah Valley. It is located about two hours from Northern Virginia, and just a short hop from the college town of Harrisonburg. While we found entering the resort strange, as there is a booth where you have to state your intentions to the local constabulary, it was an easily reached location perfect for a day trip. We were able to quickly get our lift tickets, which were a reasonable $32 for a four hour session between 1230-1630 hours.

Photo provided by M. Ethan Ross.

Since this was our first trip to Massanutten, we decided to start off in the beginners area, and proceeded towards the Geronimo Slope. This is serviced by a quick moving double lift, and since this was a weekday, there was no wait to get on it. First time skiers might find the Geronimo slope intimidating, as it has a fairly sharp incline, which can lead to ludicrous speeds before being forced to slow down. This was the best groomed slope of the resort, and considering the tepid weather conditions, the staff of this resort deserve a good pat on the back. There was some ice on the bottom near the lift, but the snow couch near the station has been able to withstand the above average temperatures.

The Cross Trail is laid back, and was also well groomed with packed powder. This connects to the Southern Comfort, which is a long beginner slope that takes awhile to get down. It also takes considerable time for the Quad Lift to get to the top of it, and we clocked the ride at over five minutes. This was without large crowds throughout most of the day, so be prepared for considerable delays during weekends. The lift personnel were able to keep the loading and egress areas full of snow, and a couple of them had a good joke every time we got on. We spent most of our day on the Southern Comfort, which had a few icy spots and grassy areas, but for the most part offered satisfactory skiing conditions.

Photo provided by M. Ethan Ross.

The worst area was the Rebel Yell Slope, which is serviced by lift #5. Appearances were deceiving, as the conditions appeared fine down below, but a cursory glance from the lift seat revealed a lot of ice near the top. I found out how icy this slope was almost immediately, and completed an upside down tailspin for about a hundred yards down. My exposed arms hit ice all the way down, and although there was some considerable bleeding, I was humbled to walk away with no major injuries. On a personal note, being 6’2 215 lbs does hurt more than children when they fall down, and they never cease to amaze me how quickly they bounce up from major falls. Until the weather improves, this slope should be avoided due to massive amounts of ice near the summit. Expert skiers were enjoying the Paradice Slope, but Crazy Jim was not open due to the lack of cooperation from Mother Nature.

We had a good day of skiing, and hope to go back to this resort if time permits. The lodge offers limited dining options, and we found out that there are substantial discounts on condominium rentals this year. The staff we encountered were friendly, although I wish the ski patrol would enforce some serious safety issues witnessed on this day. There were lots of teenagers listening to iPods or on their cellphones while skiing or snowboarding, and even a couple taking pictures of each other while going down the slopes. Thankfully no one appeared to be injured or cause injuries through these careless activities.

Photo provided by M. Ethan Ross.
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Reader Comments

Connie Lawn
February 10, 2008
Great article! Sorry you were hurt. Ice is an Eastern hazard (out West too) and not to be taken lightly.
M.Ethan Ross
February 11, 2008
Connie,

Thank you, and ice certainly adds another dimension to a day of skiing. It was actually a good experience,(this fall)because it was a reminder to be humble and accept all of life's challenges.

Hope you have a great day.

M.Ethan
Todd H
March 2, 2008
Hope you had fun at the Nut. The issue with headphones is that the mountain does not disallow headphones. It is not encourage it, but permitted. There are a couple of reasons for this one being that helmets have headphones built in and are now using BlueTooth. Also cameras again are not encouraged, but if someone wants to take pictures of their trip go right ahead. I have even seen the patrol take pictures of guest if asked.

ParaDice is the slope off of lift 6 that does not have snow this year. The problem was the drought in the fall and the warm weather. This is a great slope, my kids favorite (over a mile long and just under 1000 vertical feet). It just takes too much of the available water. Diamond Jim or DJ for short is the slope that is available this year off of lift 6.

A hint for hard pack - it will cut you up. So always wear gloves. Get a light pair for warm days such as cross country gloves. Next is keep your elbows and knees covered. Falling in shorts, t-shirt, and no gloves is a bloody mess. I have learned this the hard way, I always wear gloves. Also the edges on your skis or board if tuned at an eastern shop are razor sharp.

March is looking good at the NUT. There is snow piled up to get to the end date of the March 23. There will be little crowds and discounted lift tickets.
Todd H
March 2, 2008
Hope you had fun at the Nut. The issue with headphones is that the mountain does not disallow headphones. It is not encourage it, but permitted. There are a couple of reasons for this one being that helmets have headphones built in and are now using BlueTooth. Also cameras again are not encouraged, but if someone wants to take pictures of their trip go right ahead. I have even seen the patrol take pictures of guest if asked.

ParaDice is the slope off of lift 6 that does not have snow this year. The problem was the drought in the fall and the warm weather. This is a great slope, my kids favorite (over a mile long and just under 1000 vertical feet). It just takes too much of the available water. Diamond Jim or DJ for short is the slope that is available this year off of lift 6.

A hint for hard pack - it will cut you up. So always wear gloves. Get a light pair for warm days such as cross country gloves. Next is keep your elbows and knees covered. Falling in shorts, t-shirt, and no gloves is a bloody mess. I have learned this the hard way, I always wear gloves. Also the edges on your skis or board if tuned at an eastern shop are razor sharp.

March is looking good at the NUT. There is snow piled up to get to the end date of the March 23. There will be little crowds and discounted lift tickets.

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