Firsthand Account: Liberty
By a DCSki Reader

Ski Liberty First Hand Account for the Weekend of January 1 - 3.

By New Year’s day, Ski Liberty’s web site reported twelve trails open. That’s about double the number the area was able to open at any time last year. Driving up New Year’s day, I was a bit skeptical that the area could get that many trails open with enough snow be worth skiing, especially in light of last year’s non-existent ski season. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Ski Liberty did indeed successfully open up numerous trails on the front AND back side.

Blue Streak on the front, and Eastwind and Ultra on the back, were open top to bottom for the first time since the 1996/1997 season. Dipsy Doodle, Sneaky Pete and Heavenly were covered edge to edge with plenty of snow. The entire width of Nova was opened by Sunday and the snowboard park, Freedom Trail and Adventure Alley were likewise covered. In fact, boarders had several sizable ramps to jump in the Snowboard Park.

Skiing conditions on Friday were excellent with enough snow to remove any worry of bare spots. Daytime skiing on Saturday was just as pleasant, although by the evening, slick spots and hard pack began showing through the packed snow.

Sleet started falling around 8:30 p.m., but the predicted several inches of ice never appeared. Sunday was, by far, the best day for skiing. Temperatures warmed up enough to get rid of any light icing that covered the lifts and eliminated slick spots. Snow was left in a condition that just doesn’t get much better in this region. As my skiing companion put it - it was “hero” snow (everybody looks good in this stuff!) Smart skiers and boarders pounded the slopes all day Sunday and left by 5 p.m. By that time, the sun was down, temperatures started falling and the ice came back in force. Snowmaking also resumed by 9 p.m.

Despite the great skiing available, crowds stayed moderate the entire weekend. I am told by Ski Liberty management that the area’s ability to cover so much acreage versus last year was not only due to cold temperatures staying around for more than a few days, but also because of an addition to the area’s new snow making equipment.

The area added a compressor/cooler that cools water coming out of the snowmaking pipes prior to hitting the cold air. Prior to the addition of this equipment, water and air left the snowmaking pipes at approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, this required very cold temperatures to freeze the stuff before it hit the ground. The new equipment now cools the water and air mixture to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit before it comes out of the pipes, allowing snowmaking at much warmer temperatures. With predicted cold temperatures through the early part of this week and warmer temperatures by the weekend, skiing ought to be excellent again next weekend.

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