January 22, 2003, was another story. For the first time I saw Whitetail in all its glory: crowd-free, sunny, and with a base of superb manmade snow. Under such conditions this place is a no-nonsense mountain built for speed on an assortment of relatively steep and unrelenting advanced slopes.
All slopes were open except for Far Side, which could have been, but was closed for some exceptionally intense snowmaking work in progress. Snowmaking to a varying extent was underway on a number of other slopes as well, but all were open to skiers and boarders. I found that ducking below blasts of snow was an acceptable tradeoff for enjoying the frequent stretches of beautiful powder the guns unceasingly dispersed in daytime temperatures that never rose above 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
I bought a four-hour flex ticket starting at 11:30 a.m. I love the flex ticket concept, especially during this week’s slope safety awareness program when they give you an extra hour if you know a semblance of the skier responsibility code. It was a clear and mostly windless day, perfect to enjoy Whitetail’s sunny southern exposure, which took some sting out of the low temperatures.
The adjacent trail, Exhibition, was my favorite of the day and a GS (giant slalom) turner’s dream. Fairly steep, with no let up to the base of the Expert’s Choice chair, this run was covered with some of the best and most abundant manmade snow I’ve skied in years. I still wanted more after a half dozen runs and envied those who would be there to ski similar Far Side when they pulled the ropes after its barrage of snowmaking.
One of Whitetail’s professional patrollers told me that night skiers no longer have to miss out on the Expert’s Choice terrain. New this year, Exhibition and Bold Decision now have the best and brightest lighting systems on the mountain. In case you make it up in a day or two and are not as impressed with Bold Decision, he added that its big bumps would probably be cut down a bit.
The hits in the Lower Angel Drop Terrain Park were beyond humongous. I took a few at slow speed, another concession to age, but park regulars were observed purchasing some sick airtime. This place rocks (and rails) if you know what you’re doing.
Whitetail Mountain Resort is located about 90 minutes north of D.C., just a few miles off the Clear Spring exit on Interstate 70. With nearly a 1000’ vertical and a lightning-fast high speed quad chair, weekday skiers and boarders will find this mountain an afternoon delight.
Photos by Jim Kenney.
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.