I took my wife Kathy to Seven Springs on Monday, February 1, 2010. It was a great day for a mid-winter “ski date” with sunshine, no wind, good snow conditions, and a high temperature close to 30 degrees. We weren’t the only ones with the same bright idea. Some school districts in the region were off for a holiday and it was busier than a normal weekday, but no worries. Lift lines never exceeded more than a minute and there was plenty of elbow room on the slopes and in the various lodges at Seven Springs.
Although she’s got more than 30 years of on-slope experience, Kathy is a fair weather skier preferring lonesome, easy cruisers. Three decades of marriage with an obsessed ski nut has led her far outside her winter comfort zone on more than one occasion, but not Monday. Fair weather and mellow trails were the order of the day and even the sometimes forbidding North Face terrain was skiing pretty at Seven Springs, very pretty.
We started at mid-morning with a ride on the Six Passenger Polar Express Chairlift. It rises about 600 vertical feet up the heart of the ski area right in front of the enormous main base lodge. From the Seven Springs summit (just shy of elevation 3,000’) we headed down the intermediate Alpine Meadows slope. Along the way we got a close look at the huge Seven Springs snow tubing operation. It features a dozen lanes and a vertical drop of probably a couple hundred feet.
Rounding a bend in the trail we got a view of the even more impressive Spot Terrain Park and Pipe. Seven Springs touts this as one of the premier parks in the East and believe me, some of the hits are world class. The half pipe (600’ long, 18’ tall) has been ranked #1 pipe on the East Coast by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine. I waited for a minute to see if somebody had the nerve to tackle The Spot. I was beginning to think this park is almost too much to handle for mid-Atlantic snowriders when a high flying young skier took a 40’ gap jump right in front of us. Wow!
If you’re into parks and pipes you MUST visit Seven Springs. I haven’t seen anything like it in the mid-Atlantic. We saw a crew taking the following videos at the five Seven Springs terrain parks on the day of our visit, February 1, 2010. Check out the fifth video on this page for action in The Spot Terrain Park and Pipe:
After gaping for a while at the spectacular terrain park we took the Blitzen triple chair back to the summit. This time we headed down the backside of the mountain; i. e., the North Face. We took the long green circle Lost Boy trail and noticed another major terrain park called The Alley off to skier’s left of us. Its slightly scaled-down features were drawing an active bunch of skiers and snowboarders.
Kathy liked the Lost Boy trail so much that we skated over to the Six Passenger Gunnar Express Chairlift to find its North Face bookend called the Lost Girl trail. The Gunnar Express is a crowd eater that climbs approximately 700 vertical feet providing state-of-the-art access across the expansive North Face at Seven Springs. It makes the far northwest perimeter of the Seven Springs trail layout THE place to rack up great runs with minimal lift lines.
We both enjoyed the secluded Lost Girl trail. It was very quiet on Monday and features some nice twists and turns on a long, pretty descent through hardwood forests. We explored some steeper runs in this area too, including Giant Steps and Yodeler. Then it was time for a pleasant, crowd free lunch in the Tahoe Lodge. It’s located at the top of the North Face and the quality of the chili they serve is only exceeded by the quality of the views from this most convenient dining spot.
Eventually we made our way to the many trails on the original, front face of the Seven Springs layout. It was a bit busier than the North Face, but the occasional swarm of children taking lessons on the gentle switchbacks of Phillip’s Run served to remind us of the days when our own kids were skiing tots. Facilitating family fun on the slopes is an area where Seven Springs truly excels, just ask DCSki guest columnist Iwan Fuchs, director of the Seven Springs Snowsport School.
I got a chance late in the day to scout a few of the black diamond runs at Seven Springs. Goosebumps had seen a lot of fresh snowmaking and did not contain its usual crop of moguls. The Avalanche slope was also groomed and fast, but Stowe slope was covered with large and very firm moguls.
A day spent on the slopes with my favorite person is always great, but it’s even better when the weather complies and the skiing is good. It was amazing how our moods had improved on the car ride back to Washington, DC after skiing. Here’s what I prescribe if you want to reduce stress, have fun, and improve your relationships: take a tank of gas and go for a “ski date” in the morning.
Home video shot by Jim Kenney at Seven Springs on February 1, 2010:
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.