Firsthand Report: Weekend Snowstorm at Snowshoe 4
By Roy Stevenson, a DCSki Reader
I have to admit, I’ve been very, very lucky the last few years with snow. I’ve been to 15 different mountains all across the country and have had snowfall and good conditions at most of them. A friend recently asked me why I was so lucky. “First,” I replied, “I thank Ullr for every snow day. Second, I don’t care what conditions are like, I ski every day like it’s my last.” That theory was really tested this past weekend. I convinced my wife that we should go to Snowshoe before the season ends for a couple of more ski days. “Besides honey,” I coaxed, “we haven’t been away for a weekend alone in a long time.” That worked. I called up Snowshoe reservations and booked a room at Allegheny Springs, including lift tickets for both of us. We drove up on Friday and had a magnificent drive. It was sunny and warm so we kept the windows down. We had great views across the Allegheny Mountains as we approached the top of Snowshoe. Then my wife asked the obvious question. “There’s no snow around here. Are we going to be able to ski?” “Yes dear,” I assured her. “It’s not great but we’ll have some snow on the ground.” We woke up on Saturday morning with temperatures around 55 degrees. Not quite shorts and T-shirt weather but definitely in the spring conditions phase. We rent skis at the Spruce Lodge for my wife and then head down to Gandy Dancer. Most of the snow is brown. It skis like mashed potatoes. My wife is happy because there’s no ice.

We ski down to the Ballhooter lift. Riding up, we notice many spots on the Ballhooter run that are dirt. And not your typical small brown patch. I mean a “patch” that is 5 feet wide. There’s still enough room to ski down Ballhooter so we take it. I teach my wife how to look for the orange and black poles that mark the patches in the snow. This proves more difficult than I expected as I run over a pole shortly afterwards.

We decide to head over to Widowmaker. While we know that the trail is closed, the lift is open and we can see what conditions are like on Hootenany and J Hook. We are pretty happy with this decision. While it is not that busy this weekend, most people are concentrated on Ballhooter, as is always normal. Meanwhile, no one is over on Hootenany. The trail was covered nicely and even had some spots with white snow. We were so impressed, we stayed on this side for a couple of hours.

After lunch, I convince my wife to go check out Cupp. All of Shays has been closed but they’ve kept Cupp Run open. We get over there and discover some nice, soft, pliable moguls. With the warm weather, the trail has bumped up a little but it’s very soft. We do a few runs here and then my wife gets the signal that it’s time to quit: rain! She heads over to the Junction for après ski. I decide to ski things that are harder, like Knot Bumper and Grabhammer. After these runs, it’s time to après ski myself.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Saturday night we watch the forecast and it’s good news. The temperature is supposed to drop below freezing and the rain clouds are supposed to turn to snow clouds. The Weather Channel is calling for 1-3 inches. While that’s not a lot, it’s enough to make us happy. However, the Weather Channel is wrong. By 7 a.m., Snowshoe was reporting 4 inches of new snow and it was nowhere close to stopping. This is going to be a great day!

All of the mush has now turned to powder tops and icy bottoms. But it’s enough powder if you find the right path down the mountain. We head over to Cupp for a few long runs. Both of us are skiing through the bumps (and now they are real bumps). My wife (who hates bumps) is actually having a great time and enjoying herself. I always try to stay behind her on these conditions in case she falls. She is doing great down the whole run. When we get near the bottom, I fly by her on the flats. After waiting about 10 minutes, my wife finally appears, covered in white. She had a nasty fall on the flats and appears to have pulled every muscle in her body. Her day is over.

As we ride up the Western Express, she encourages me to continue skiing. I make sure she’s OK and then I leave her to take Cupp down again, as I’ll meet her at the Shaver’s Center later. Cupp has many small powder stashes to the sides. The powder is over my ski boots now and skiing like a dream. After a few more runs, I have about 30 minutes left before my day has to end.

I head back over to the other side to check out some real bumps. I head over to Grabhammer. These bumps are really high but the powder is so nice on them. At the end of the bumps, I take Grab Hook over to the Ballhooter trail. There are only 3 other tracks in the snow here. I take a path less traveled and I’m skiing in fresh powder at my knees! I was at Snowshoe on President’s Day weekend and I didn’t have the powder that high. I guess with the snow continuing to fall and no grooming, the powder just piled up.

As I ski down Ballhooter past the bottom of the Knot Bumper Glades, I look up and notice fresh, untouched powder coming out of the Glades. The day before, the glades were closed off and there was no snow to ski through there. I think this needs to be my last run.

I take the Ballhooter lift up and shoot over to Knot Bumper. Yesterday, there were many brown holes all down here. Today, those holes were covered but still marked off. I try to avoid those and hit the bumps. There is a ski school class below me so I let them finish the bumps. I then overhear the instructor apologizing for taking them down this run. From observing the level of these students, he definitely pushed them beyond their abilities.

As I get near the bottom of the bumps, I noticed the Glades are still marked off as closed. I know the Skier’s Responsibility Code states you shouldn’t ski in closed off territory. But there is fresh powder in those glades. I have to go in.

What a reward! While the Glades are not a steep run, there is still powder to the middle of my thighs! What an experience. And a tribute to the great season we’ve had in the Mid-Atlantic. If this is the last run of the year, it couldn’t have ended any better.

When all was said and done, Snowshoe reported 10 inches of new snow this day. For me, I think back to the question my friend asked, “Why am I so lucky”. I don’t really know. Monetarily, I’ll never be a rich man. But if all I ever have is snow, then I’m the richest skier on earth.

Photos provided by Roy Stevenson.

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Reader Comments

April 2, 2003
What a difference 10 inches make! I watched the big bare spot at the beginning of Ballhooter's bumps appear while I was up there! Grabhammer was great, and Knot bumper was best on Tuesday, when the snow was soft and pliable! Alleghany Springs is the newest lodge I believe, I was wondering what you thought of your accomodations?
April 3, 2003
Jarrett you should have delayed your trip one week. I heard Monday was great too.

Alleghany was nice. We were in a Jr. Studio overlooking the pool area. Queen bed, kitchen, pullout sofa, internet access, and fireplace. Having the hot tub right outside is great. We paid $357.00 for the 2 nights and lift tickets for both of us. For this trip, that price was right. I checked on it for President's day and it was renting at $400/ night! Not worth that price
April 3, 2003
that last run was a metaphor for one schweeet season
The Colonel
April 5, 2003
I too was at Snowshoe the weekendof March 29th, and got snowed in and had to extend through Monday March 31. I echo Ray Stevenson's comments, but if he thought it great skiing on sunday, he should have stayed until Monday. Over 18 inches of snow from the storm, and cold temperatures (low of 11 degrees)! Conditions were awesome on Monday, all had been groomed and it just kept snowing anearly all day, and of course no crowds. SWEEEEET!!!
I also stayed at AlleghenySprings, and the staff there was wonderful. I sis not think my Jr. Studio much different from those at Rimfire, but the attentive staff, the on-premisis pool and hot tub, the lounge area, especially the always present and attentive staff,etc. made the extra cost worthwhile. I do think they should keep the outdoor pool a little warmer, it was 88 degrees, but felt mush colder than those I am used to elsewhere - same for the bigger pools that serves the entire Willage. I also think that some coat hooks would be useful in the ski storage/locker area. In short, I had a wonderful stay and Snowshoe exceeded all my expectations for the last weekend in March. In fact, I think Joe Stevems and Snowshoe managers should offer me free passes and trips for in 30 trips to the Shoe since it openned, I have never not had it snow on me while there!!!!! I also bought a new book at the Village "Pulp and Paper" bookstore called "SNOWSHOE - A Journey Through the Early Years" by DeWitt C. Fillmore. It is fascinating reading about the foundeers of Snowshoe, and their dreams and up and down adventures of starting up and operating a ski resort in the Mid-Atlantic region. The book covers the entire period of Snowshoe's existence through Intrawest, but the bulk of this most enjoyable and easy reading covers the period through 1984. If you like Mid-Atlantic skiing, especially Snowshoe, this book is a must read!
The Colonel

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