I’m sorry folks. If you think I’m some sort of mid-Atlantic ski area sycophant, this season you’d be correct. I went to Massanutten Resort in Virginia on Saturday night, March 8, 2003, and have to file another glowing first hand report. The conditions were perfect for a really fun spring nightskiing session.
Though there wasn’t much natural left on the ground, all slopes at Massanutten were still open with a glacial manmade snow base. The air temperature must have been around 55 degrees Fahrenheit when I started skiing at 5:30 pm, but it eventually dipped about 10 degrees cooler later in the evening making for soft, but sufficiently quick surface conditions.
Massanutten is into their spring lift ticket discount season and I wasn’t sure what sort of crowd that would bring out. Saturday night the crowds were very light and so was the price of a night session ski ticket: $10. Me and the rest in my group couldn’t stop ourselves from skiing right up to closing time at 10 pm.
Virtually all of Massanutten’s terrain, including the more difficult slopes, are lit-up with night lights. The mostly “straight down the fall line” trails served by the Rebel Yell double chair and the ParaDice/Diamond Jim quad chair lend themselves very nicely to spring snow conditions. Basically, I had a freakin’ blast doing some crowd-free carving all night in soft snow.
I took a run down Dixie Dare late in the evening. It’s the toughest trail at Massanutten, and again featured the type of very significant bumps I remembered from my last visit to the area about four years ago. Though it was around 9 pm, the bumps were still fairly soft, but very sharply defined. Below Dixie Dare a series of three foot wave-like swells blossomed on a trail section called Easy Street. My kids called them “humpies” and couldn’t get enough of them.
What a ski season it’s been; started early, stayed good, and is finishing strong. I got a good regional sampling this year including trips to Wisp, MD early, then Blue Knob, Seven Springs and Whitetail, PA in mid-season, and now Massanutten late. Everywhere has been great due to better than average natural snow amounts and exceptionally consistent cool temperatures for snowmaking and grooming.
It’s not too late to enjoy more of this “season to savor” in the mid-Atlantic, although time is running out at Massanutten. A ski patroller told me that March 16 will be their last day. The closing won’t be due to lack of snow.
Massanutten Resort is near Harrisonburg, Virginia, a little over two hours from DC via I66 and I81. You can find out more about the area and spring discounts in the resort profile section of www.dcski.com and at the Massanutten website http://www.massresort.com/.
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.