When a typical New Englander refers to skiing, they’re usually talking about the skiing resorts found in New Hampshire or Vermont. I had the chance to go skiing at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia last weekend. Yes, West Virginia. As a New Englander, I was skeptical about the prospect of skiing as far south as West Virginia - could there really be great skiing down there? With a little coaxing from a friend, I decided to go and try it out.
The first thought that crossed my mind was: How much snow does West Virginia get anyway? After surfing over to Snowshoe’s web page and DCSki, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Snowshoe was reporting roughly 70 to 100 inches of base. I must admit that after the snowy March weather in New England, I could believe it, even if it now seemed somewhat warm. So off I went to experience West Virginia skiing for two days.
Anyone from New England reading this might be asking themselves: “Why are you going to West Virginia? Do you know how far away that is?” Well, it is a long day’s travel from Massachusetts, but it makes a great story at work! Try telling your boss that you want to take two days of vacation to go skiing in West Virginia. After they finish looking at you like you have grown ten heads, explain that the conditions down there appear to be equal or better than the areas around New England. Then, over the course of a couple weeks, drop casual comments that West Virginia just got another foot of snow. After awhile, you won’t sound so crazy.
At Snowshoe, the whole resort is at the top of the mountain with most of the lodging within a minute’s walk (in ski boots, no less!) of the slopes. Since the resort is at the top, instead of waiting for the chairlift you just throw your skis on and carve your way down on your first run. Putting the resort at the top of the mountain adds a rather scenic and sometimes curvy drive up, but who doesn’t like to drive windy roads?
Ok, so let’s talk trails! There are three locations to ski at Snowshoe: the main area, the Western Territory, and the Silver Creek section, which includes night skiing, snow tubing, and a terrain park. I stuck with the main Snowshoe area and the Western Territory. The two days of skiing I enjoyed happened to include some of the best March conditions I have seen on east coast.
The main Snowshoe area has the most trails. The trails interconnect, allowing access to any chairlift without needing to cross country, which I view as a sign of a well designed resort. The trails were a mixture of all levels but the expert trails at the main Snowshoe area were not too challenging to me. Snowshoe’s answer for the expert skiers is the Western Territory, just across the road from the main Snowshoe area.
The Western Territory includes two expert trails: Cupp Run and the new Shay’s Revenge. I skied Shay’s Revenge almost exclusively. Cupp Run is a great slope too, but I enjoyed the challenge of Shay’s Revenge much more. Both trails are serviced by a brand new high speed quad that makes the uphill portion of the trip in about 6 minutes. The bottom section of Shay’s Revenge is a double black diamond and boasts a rather steep section which could intimidate a beginner and a lot of intermediate skiers. The thing I liked was that the hill had moguls on one side of the slope and a smooth, groomed (and steep!) surface on the other side. With plenty of snow and the mild weather that one expects in late March, people could work on perfecting their bump skiing or pump some adrenaline while carving down the smooth side.
All in all, Snowshoe proved to me that there is indeed some great skiing to be had in West Virginia. I hear the mountain biking is pretty good, too..
Brian Preston is a New Englander coaxed by DCSki's Editor to try "skiing south." When Brian isn't skiing, he's flying down the mountain on his mountain bike.
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