It has been a several years since I had skied at Seven Springs so I was very pleased to see all the changes and updates to the resort. Also good to see that it had not lost its charms (trout pond, Foggy Goggle, lots of Steeler jackets, people talking with funny accents, etc…)
My family being flung to the winds this year we decided on Seven Springs as a good mid-point meeting point for the Thanksgiving holiday. We were not disappointed.
We rented a condo up on the hill in the Villages section. At first things didn’t start out well as the first condo didn’t have working heat. However Seven Springs Management was very gracious and quickly found another available property for us. The condo was in the Woodridge Village and the floor plan more than adequate for the seven people in our group. In fact the condo was tricked out in holiday grab which was appropriate as we were doing an early Christmas as well.
Mother Nature was on our side as well, as storms earlier in the week had dropped over a foot of snow on the resort. I had chosen to have the family meet at Seven Springs just on the outside hope that there would be some skiing. In seven out of the past ten years Seven Springs has managed to get some skiing open for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had expected a trail or two open on some crunchy manmade stuff. The conditions were far better than that with over 16 trails open and excellent coverage. It could easily have been mid-season rather than pre-season!
Even though I was staying at Seven Springs I debated about going to Hidden Valley to take advantage of the free tickets. But on Friday, Seven Springs ran a “White Sale” promotion. They offered 1/2 price lift tickets if purchased before 10 a.m. Thus I was able to get my team (2 adults and 2 kids) lift tickets a total of $68. Not a bad deal.
I was very proud that I managed to get my team out of the condo and prepped to ski by 8:15. At the ski lodge I was impressed with the “new” drop off area, patios and walkways. A much better set up than clumping through the main lodge in ski boots as I had in the past. The inside of the ski lodge was familiar but most of the outside had been nicely reworked.
Once in our skis we shushed to the Cortina lift. We skied off this lift for the better part of the morning. We found we could keep all abilities happy skiing the Wagner and Stowe slopes as well as the flatter green trails back to the lift. Also this area had good sight lines for keeping an eye on the kids! The snow was excellent. Not powder, but solid east coast conditions.
After a bit we plunged on to the Polar Express six pack lift. As those who have skied Seven Springs can attest it may be warm in front of the lodge but once that lift clears the lip of the hill the winds kick in. Up on top it was much colder and very windy! There were two slopes open in the North Face area: Lost Boy, a long green, and the much steeper Giant Steps slope. Due to the winds both trails were much icier than the front slopes. However the crowds were non-existent. We skied to the lift at the bottom with ease. I looked longingly at the new Gunter Lift. It will be a big plus to this area once conditions allow it to open.
After a couple of runs we had it with the winds and headed back to the front side. We saw that the crowds had picked up. In fact all day the crowds at the Polar Express 6 pack were large. We waited 15-20 minutes a couple of times. Ironically the North Face was empty. We kept wondering where all those folks were going?
After a mid morning break we split up. I skied with my older son and we hit the tougher slopes off the Tyrol lift to the left of the main lodge. This terrain was excellent. Some nice pitches that gave a real work out. Also the groomers left half of Avalanche ungroomed which made for some nice soft moguls. Several folks were out in the nearby “illegal” glades as well. At the start of the weekend I was worried about bringing my big yellow 180 Elan skis but they worked like a charm on these slopes. I felt I could get some great turns and really let the ski run a bit.
We skied most of the day, regrouping a couple of times and ducking into the lodge for a quick bite. I was glad to see the pizza joint in the main lodge had not changed over the years. “PIE for 91!!” boomed a Pittsburghiese voice. There is also a “new” coffee bar that has Wi-Fi and serves excellent baked goods nearby. It provides a nice break from the hustle of the slopeside ski lodge.
Back on the slopes after lunch the conditions never failed. We saw very little ice and my sons sought out some nice hits. The lift lines other than the 6 pack were nil. My son and I stayed out until our tickets almost ran out at 7 p.m. It was a long day on the hill but a good value. I spoke to some folks on the lift that had gone to Hidden Valley for the free lifts. They reported very long lines and getting in a run every 45 minutes. They had bailed and come over to Seven Springs. Based on those reports and what I saw on the web I think I made the right call. With mid-season conditions, nice improvements and all the old charms of Seven Springs, it was a Thanksgiving weekend for the books!
Robbie Allen is an avid small hill skier. He has written several articles on the many small hills he has sought out.