Firsthand Report: Liberty Mountain
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

Liberty Mountain on a clear, beautiful, warm Saturday is truly liberating! My husband Charles and I had a wonderful day on January 3, 2009 at the Pennsylvania resort. We shared it with about 3,500 other skiers and snowboarders, and about a thousand other visitors. But, that was to be expected. Liberty handled it well. A guest of ours from New Zealand marveled at how well organized the mountain was, and how much snow there was on the slopes. Liberty worked hard for that snow, and had been making snow for the past few days. Mother Nature provided cold, but little else to help at this time.

Upper Eastwind, Ultra, and Strata were all open and well groomed. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

All 7 lifts were open on Saturday and 13 trails. The lifts were full, but lines moved quickly. The more challenging back side trails had just opened. The Heavenlys, Sidewinder, Ultras, Stratas and Upper Blue Streak were in excellent shape. We did not see any rocks or branches on the open parts of the trails. You don’t want to go off into the woods or closed trails anyway! The surface was listed as packed powder and, of course, some got skied off as the day progressed. But that was soon improved with more snowmaking.

Snow tubing was especially popular, and the lines for that were long. You often had to buy tickets for it several hours in advance. I am glad that is such a popular sport - it is exciting, tons of fun, and a lot easier for the younger set. You do not have to worry about equipment - the tubes and lifts are provided. We do recommend helmets, for all sports. It was great to look down on the tubing, and hear the shrieks of joy, while standing above on Dipsy Doodle.

Mountain safety and Liberty ski patrol were on all the trails with whistles and warnings. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

Safety measures at Liberty have always impressed us, and they were visibly enforced on Saturday. A sign near the ticket window warns speeders they will be penalized. Believe me, you don’t want to lose your ski pass!

On the mountain, there were abundant numbers of ski patrollers and instructors. Patrollers stood at some sections where there are bottlenecks and trails merge. They blew whistles, held up their hands, and slowed down skiers and snowboarders, or waved them to the right or left. That is so easy, logical, and reassuring. Why don’t all resorts do that?

For us, the best part of skiing is the social aspect. In ski resorts like Liberty and Whitetail, you can see hundreds of people you know from “back home.” It is wonderful to see hard working, responsible people relax for a few hours in the sun and the snow.

According to Charles,
Carroll Valley from top of Blue Streak. Well groomed and nearly empty. According to Charles, “Although the lift line from the front side seemed long, it moved quickly and the back side leaves plenty of room to disperse after the traffic bottleneck on Upper Heavenly.” Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

We especially like seeing our good friends - Manager Eric Flynn, and Media Rep and creative guru Anne Weimer. Among the instructors, our neighbors Trippie and Tom Penland, and Janet Hall give generously of their time, especially in adaptive ski and wounded warrior programs. Their instructor-children, David and Julie Penland, brought their 2 month old daughter. Now, that is starting them young. She is adorable, but not yet ready to teach!

In short, it was a great day. But, as usual, it is best to go to any resort, if you possibly can, during the week. Why not take off a few hours? The drive is about an hour and a half from the Washington area, and there is usually night skiing, boarding, and tubing (but check websites to verify daily operating hours).

Some really crowded weeks are coming up in Washington, as we all know. Millions are expected for the Inauguration and the Martin Luther King weekend. I have to stay around and cover them. But, as I am jammed into the Metro or the Mall with several million of my closest friends, I will think of those beautiful, snow-covered slopes, and wish I was there. But, the future looks good, I hope, so usher it in with a snow day!

Video by Charles Sneiderman.

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About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

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