Firsthand Report: Wisp Lookin’ Good on 53rd Birthday 6
Author thumbnail By Jim Kenney, DCSki Columnist

I made the three hour trip from Northern Virginia to Wisp, MD with a gang of four other skiers on Sunday, December 14, 2008. It was Wisp’s 53rd birthday celebration and for the $7 price of admission we had a great time on a windless, sunny, 45 degree F day. This was the first ski outing of the season for me and all in my group. The crowds were low to moderate and snow conditions were excellent for mid-December.

The awesome Wisp snowmakers had readied a pleasant assortment of about 20 trails across all aspects of the mountain (front face, North Camp and Main Street), which effectively dispersed the manageable crowds and provided my group with a varied and satisfying ski day. The five of us skied together as a fairly fast moving pack for much of day and our best runs came on entertaining intermediate to advanced groomers like Squirrel Cage, Ace’s Run, Over the Edge, Whip Saw, and Main Street.

Neal and Donald Cobert on Chair No. 1 beside the Mountain Coaster. Photo provided by Jim Kenney.

Some of you may know that a most unusual “Eastern avalanche” of manmade snow occurred recently at Wisp on their steepest trail, The Face. A patroller told me they have a curious and testy situation. The run has sustained not one, but three slides since the season began. The first big one occurred about three weeks ago when a five foot thick slab of snow about the size of a football field slid hundreds of feet down the slope. With all good intentions Wisp made an incredible amount of early season snow on The Face, but sandwiched somewhere in between was a one foot layer of loose, unstable natural snow. This is the source of the trouble and the run is still closed while awaiting an especially demanding grooming job. Perhaps a stout hearted Wisp snow farmer will earn a nice Christmas bonus by soon assaulting this intimidating, unstable pitch with one of Wisp’s fleet of snow cat machines?

One of the prettiest views in mid-Atlantic skiing, Deep Creek Lake from the Down Under trail. Photo provided by Jim Kenney.

During the course of the day I had fun encounters with several friends from the DCSki online community. BushwackerinPA tracked me down around noon and we made some turns together on a run next to The Face called Squirrel Cage. This guy carves TRENCHES on snow and is a walking Wikipedia on all things ski. After the Holidays he plans to begin instructing at Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont for the rest of this season. If you’re traveling North look him up (real name - Josh Matta) for a fun, action packed ski lesson. He specializes in teaching kids, but his enthusiastic attitude can bring out the inner ski-child in old guys too, as I can attest.

Jim Kenney and Josh Matta below The Face trail. Photo provided by Jim Kenney.

Later in the day I started chatting with a friendly lift rider who was clicked into a very manly set of wide, orange skis (Salomon’s?) in about the 180cm length. It turned out to be DCSki poster SCWVA. He was sneaking in a few late afternoon runs apart from his family. He’s been busy capitalizing on our good early winter conditions and has already snuck in four more ski days than me this season.

Finally, as I was packing up to head home around 5pm I bumped into Bousquet19 in Wisp’s spacious main ski lodge. Although we had never met before, it must have been his DCSkier’s afterglow from a mighty fine early season day at Wisp that gave him away?

Happy Holidays to all and here’s hoping Santa brings more cold, snowy weather to the mid-Atlantic

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About Jim Kenney

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.

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Reader Comments

Woody
December 19, 2008
Nice writeup and great photos of Wisp, JimK. Next time be sure to take a few shots of the birthday cake, too. Now that I know (in person and from your pics) what you and your ski gear look like, I'll watch for you on the snow. With all those trails and lifts running, how could anyone say no to a day of skiing for $7 at Wisp?
andy
December 19, 2008
Who was the dude with the face mask on?
CK
December 22, 2008
What's the mt. coaster? Can you ride it?
Scott
December 22, 2008
You can. See this article for more details: http://www.dcski.com/articles/viewarticle.php?articleid1031
lou
December 25, 2008
IT was a good day of skiing!

They say the economy is bad... well, I say it's a buyer's market!! Thanks to cheap gas prices, HV's free skiing weekends, and this deal, a ski bum college student like me has managed to, in december, hit the slopes more times this season than I did in all last year!

Did anyone else make tracks on The Face? I risked losing my $7 ticket, but it was worth it :D
lou
December 25, 2008
IT was a good day of skiing!

They say the economy is bad... well, I say it's a buyer's market!! Thanks to cheap gas prices, HV's free skiing weekends, and this deal, a ski bum college student like me has managed to, in december, hit the slopes more times this season than I did in all last year!

Did anyone else make tracks on The Face? I risked losing my $7 ticket, but it was worth it :D

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