While other resorts were barely keeping their slopes open because of spring temps, rain, and thin cover, Snowshoe has been able to hang tough until this current cold snap finally set in. The weekend of Jan. 26, the Shoe boasted a 20”- to 50”-inch base - with no signs of green or bare spots. How did they do it? A lot of up-front snowmaking and precision grooming efforts. And despite the horrid recent conditions, the mountain’s granular conditions proved better than expected.
Saturday was a bluebird special, with no jacket required and temps hovering in the 50s. A good but not overwhelming crowd was on hand at the Snowshoe area, evidenced by the usual double-sided lines on the high-speed Ballhooter quad but meager lines at all remaining lifts. A good deal of attention was paid at the summit, where demo specials and free products held center stage.
As for the trails, Lower Ballhooter and the small glade sections were in good shape, as were most of the beginner and intermediate runs on the basin side. The real challenges, though, were over on the Western Territory. Snow riding was a little more difficult on Cupp Run and particularly on Shay’s Revenge, where its steep, moguled lower half was icy and daunting. Cupp had pockets of good snow on the sides and some isolated icy spots in its chewed-out middle, but the 1.5-mile run was as exhilarating, fast, and technical as I’ve ever remembered it. As my legs eventually wore out, Arbuckle’s Cabin proved a nice respite. The cabin serves up some delicious beef stew and chili, and a beautiful day like this afforded many guests the opportunity to hang out on the deck and watch skiers and boarders make their last turns and jumps at the bottom of Cupp.
I capped off a long day by hitting the soothing waters of Silver Creek Lodge. There’s an indoor hot tub and a pool that leads outside into another pool and hot tub. After playing a few games of pool and foosball at Silver Creek’s pub, we headed up to Snowshoe Village. The ski-village setting is coming along nicely, and it’s definitely the place to be on the mountain. Rimfire Grill was especially lively but a long dinner wait, so we walked over for a bite to eat at The Junction, where we enjoyed live acoustic guitar and a delicious meal.
Early Sunday morning was all about making turns at Silver Creek. We made fresh tracks on wide-open groomed runs with just a smattering of skiers joining the ranks of the 8:30 a.m. diehards. Silver Creek’s snowboard park and halfpipe were just getting going, with its monster, competition-size pipe and featured hits like rail slides, gap jumps, and tabletops. After making our way across Silver Creek’s smooth trails, we geared down and got on the road. The weekend was as good as advertised, and no one in the group wanted to leave this all behind for another week working for The Man.
On a travel note, the long, winding drive from Cass to Snowshoe will be substantially expedited when the resort finishes building out its new road. Look for the road to be completed before the start of next ski season. Farther north, as we approached Moorefield on Route 55, signs of H-Corridor progress was validated as we got stuck behind several large trucks moving at snail’s pace. It’ll be some time before this is completed, but it’ll be a blessing for D.C. and Baltimore residents driving to the Shoe.
And on a final conditions note, Snowshoe just reported nine inches of fresh powder from this latest clipper, with reports calling for more natural snow over the next five days. Be sure to check out www.snowshoemtn.com for several affordable midweek ski-and-stay packages.
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.