Amazing what a difference a year can make. A year ago this past weekend, Snowshoe was looking at a balmy 64 degrees and snowmaking futility. But this last weekend, an impressive 50 inches of powder had already graced these mountains, and Snowshoe was off to a fast, aggressive start to the season!
The Friday night trip from D.C. was an interesting one, with constantly changing conditions from the start. Rain turned to fog, which turned to sleet, which turned to more fog and then - finally - snow at the summit! (Look for the right turn onto Snowshoe Road at the top of the mountain after going through Cass - you’ll shave off a little time, provided you don’t have to travel back down to the base Welcome Center. You can also hit a seven-mile stretch of new four-lane highway on Rt. 55, which is presumably the first finished section of Corridor H.)
By Saturday morning, a good two- to three-inch base made for some good snow, despite the day’s somewhat whiteout and windy conditions. But these were my first turns of the season, and I knew nothing could be wrong about 48 open trails already in mid-December. In fact, there was a healthy crowd on hand, and Snowshoe’s basin side was full of loose and packed powder stashes that made for excellent snow riding. Other than a few middle icy spots on the Western Territory, both Cupp Run and Shay’s Revenge were in pretty good shape and raged faster than I remembered. The resort was able to open all of Cupp at its earliest date in history, while the resort is close to opening the bumps on Lower Shay’s.
Lodging at Rimfire Lodge also served our group well. Rimfire sits smack in the middle of Snowshoe Village, with immediate slope access and an array of restaurants/shops within a short walk. Nextdoor to Rimfire lies the new Split Rocks Pools complex. It’s the right way to wind down after getting in a day’s worth of runs, with indoor and outdoor pools, slides, and hot tubs all available to Snowshoe overnighters. At night, a snowboard rails competition boomed right in the middle of the Village with some of the region’s best talent.
Sunday morning’s first tracks proved awesome on the basin’s corduroy trails, and the bluebird day would just get better and better. This was the most beautiful day I’d ever seen at Snowshoe, with sunlight gleaming down over snow-covered trees and clear views of the valleys from the lifts. A sunny, snow-covered day like demands photo opps from the Cupp Run Overlook on Snowshoe Road. The weekend’s only downside was that we had to leave, but not before shooting a good 10 runs on still-optimal conditions.
Snowshoe and Silver Creek are both currently boasting a solid 32-44” base, and the resort is hosting events all winter long in anticipation of a great Mid-atlantic winter. Be sure to take a look at the resort’s Web site for cost-cutting lodging deals. And if you’ve been dormant for the last few years, waste no time stretching out the legs, tuning up your ride, and getting yourself out to the mountains for some of the best conditions in years!
John Phillips is author of Ski & Snowboard America: Mid-atlantic, now in its second edition. He can be found snowboarding the local slopes on most winter weekends.