Hats off to Ski Roundtop for being the only DC/Baltimore “local” area to maintain full coverage on its slopes. I arrived early Sunday morning (February 17, 2002) unsure of the mountain’s conditions but hell-bent on making as many turns as possible in the few free hours I had available. The temperature and humidity here in Lewisberry, PA had allowed for snowmaking the last three nights, and the groomers had done their job in time for Sunday’s 8 a.m. opening.
As expected, the overnight freeze left the green trails a little hard and slick, but the early-morning sun was working fast to loosen up the snow. A few notable observations about Roundtop’s beginner trails - they’re effectively secluded from other trails, afford plenty of elbow room, and offer a slightly higher degree of difficulty as you move skier’s right across the three runs.
Intermediate Minuteman was next on my list. It is by far Roundtop’s most popular trail, and deservedly so. Minuteman sports a nice cruising-variety grade, a few small bumps at the top, and extra-wide track to really open it up. The snow here was in pretty good shape and was getting the brunt of the morning’s skier traffic. Also holding some good snow was Lafayette’s Leap - bumped out on the right and groomed on the left. But the absolute best snow of the morning could be found on black diamond Ramrod. Soft powder stashes on the moguls made for a challenging but forgiving run. Unfortunately, the steep headwall on neighboring Gunbarrel was closed, but a crossover opened up the rest of the run.
Black diamond Barrett’s Trail (off the top of the Minuteman quad chair) could’ve used some snow and grooming, but it serves as a fun option with its narrow, tree-lined track and a couple of solid S turns. While not a particularly lengthy or steep trail, I imagined this to be a great ride after a big snow dump.
By 10 a.m., the temps remained freezing and sunlight suddenly turned to clouds as snow began to fall. I made my way over to Roundtop’s halfpipe, which had just been touched up a few hours ago by the resort’s Scorpion groomer. Standing at about 200 x 25 feet, the pipe is in pretty good shape and will serve up at least 3-4 jumps, despite not having a heavy pitch to it. The resort has also opened up a small adventure park in a gated area near the lodge that’s idea for beginner jumpers to hone their craft on a tabletop, rail, and barrel.
With time for just one more run, I finished on Minuteman as the flurries gave way again to the sun. I was thrilled to be able to ride all the trails in just a few hours without having to wait in long lines. Roundtop is an exceptionally friendly ski area, and you can always count on a hello from staff and guests alike.
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.
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