Firsthand Report: Whitetail (Friday, Feb. 15) 2
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

The day started overcast, but ended sunny and pleasant.  Whitetail offered excellent conditions and slopes free of crowds on Friday afternoon.
Whitetail on Friday. The day started overcast, but ended sunny and pleasant. Whitetail offered excellent conditions and slopes free of crowds on Friday afternoon. Photos by M. Scott Smith.
This winter has not been kind to many area resorts, with mild temperatures interrupted by fleeting chances to make snow. Resorts close to D.C. such as Whitetail saw much of their bases evaporate during a warm stretch in January. Since then, they have taken every opportunity to make snow and patch up the bare spots, although some slopes have been casualties. Although conditions at Whitetail had been springlike recently, the past week produced many sub-freezing nights, allowing the Pennsylvania resort to fire up its snowmaking system. I decided to swing by Whitetail on Friday afternoon to take advantage of the recent snowmaking and to beat the holiday weekend crowds.

I arrived at Whitetail around 3 p.m. Although not all of Whitetail’s slopes were open, all beginner slopes were running, along with intermediates Limelight, Angel Drop, and Homerun. Whitetail had also made snow on experts Drop In and Bold Decision, but held off on opening them until Saturday in order to preserve the snow.

Coverage was fairly good on the open slopes. About half the width of Limelight was covered with snow, which was plenty - Limelight is very wide. Snow went from edge to edge on Angel Drop and Homerun. As expected, there were some areas of thin cover, but thankfully they were few and far between. There was one spot on Limelight where I had to choose my turns carefully to avoid some brown spots, but other than that, I had no complaints.

When I first arrived, the snow was soft and slow, although perfect on the upper third of the mountain, where the temperature was lower. (Temperatures Friday reached into the low 50’s.)

As the sun began to dip down, however, the snow firmed up and became much quicker. By 5 p.m. it was almost perfect - delicious to carve in and not icy at all.

In fact, I found myself having a great time, with the snow conditions exceeding my most optimistic of expectations.

Even better, there were no crowds. The line at the Whitetail Express was never more than a few people long, and most times I could ski right into an empty chair. Because of this, I was able to make dozens of runs, quickly wearing out my legs.

I spent most of my time carving down Limelight, which was the least crowded slope. (Since the Whitetail Express parallels Limelight on its way to the top of the mountain, I think most people prefer ditching the built-in audience, instead skiing over to Upper Angel Drop. My “audience” was respectful when I made my first fall of the season within view.)

Upper Angel Drop also had good conditions. Halfway down, skiers can opt to turn right and take Homerun to the base, or they can ski straight down to Lower Angel Drop. Whitetail has turned the bottom of Lower Angel Drop into a terrain park, and had some hits and rails available. A cutoff at the top of the terrain park cuts over to Homerun.

The view at the top of the mountain was great as always. A cool wind blew at the top of the mountain, but disappeared after a few turns down.

A fitting name

Although grass-covered slopes are an unwelcome sight to skiers, there’s one group of locals that isn’t complaining.

As I rode up the Whitetail Express chairlift, I peered left through the trees to the adjoining Snow Dancer slope, which has been closed since the last big thaw in January. No less than 30 deer dotted the slope, grazing their way slowly down the mountain.

I have seen whitetail deer at Whitetail before, but never so many concentrated in such a small place. The mild winter has produced ideal living (and eating) conditions for deer, resulting in some overpopulation. Thus, a more accurate version of Whitetail’s snow report is reproduced below:

  

MORE DIFFICULT SLOPES
 Status Slope Name Special Notes
Closed Fanciful None
Closed Snow Dancer Deer Grazing
Open Limelight Groomed
Open Home Run Groomed
   etc...  

Conditions should remain good throughout the holiday weekend, but be alert for thin and bare spots. In what has become an unfortunate trend this winter, the next few days bring hit and miss opportunities for snowmaking, with nighttime temperatures flirting with the freezing mark. As long as Whitetail is able to patch up bare spots with a shot of snowmaking every now and then, the resort should be able to glide into March.

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About M. Scott Smith

M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.

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DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort

Reader Comments

John Sherwood
February 17, 2002
Scott:

Glad you had the opportunity to make some turns. One of the coolest aspects of Whitetail is the flex ticket. You can show up whenever you want and either ski 4 or 8 hours depending on your mood.
Chuck R
February 23, 2002
Went to Whitetail on Friday, Feb. 22nd after winning free lift tickets from a local radio station. Found the conditions less than desirable with plenty of brown snow and debris in the trails. Don't be fooled by the website snow report, the 13 trails listed combine inta a realistic 8 including the beginner area. For intermediate skiers you had 5 top to bottom runs with many orange flags marking hazards along the way. I would not recommend skiing it until they can make some snow. There were a few nice spots, but many more bad ones that you really had to be aware of.

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