Photo by John Sherwood.
The chance to bike to work under cherry blossoms one day and ski Cupp Run the next day motivated me to drive to West Virginia one last time this season. As a reward to its faithful, Snowshoe Mountain offered free skiing during its closing weekend (April 6-7) to anyone willing to show up. Surprisingly, few did despite forecasts calling for cold weather and snow flurries.
The predicted snow flurries turned into several inches of fresh powder. With the snow still falling, I made my first run of the day down Gandy Dancer at 9 am. A courtesy patroller warned me not to be deceived by the fresh snow: “Rocks, bare spots, ice, and other hazards lay just under the surface. Pay attention to bamboo poles and other warnings.” She was right. The conditions were indeed variable. One second, I was slicing through powder and the next, wrestling with ice spots.
I took the Powder Monkey lift and headed straight for the Western Territory. As a courtesy to the weekend crowd, Snowshoe closed Cupp during the week and then re-opened it for the weekend. Therefore, the slope was in better condition than most other trails at the resort, even if conditions were still variable and bamboo poles warned skiers of obstacles and thin spots.
My first run was flawless. My second run was a different story. Overconfident, I skied a little faster than was prudent, caught an edge and went down. You forget how steep Cupp is until you fall. I actually had to dig my boot into the slope to check my descent. I moved to the side and struggled to get my skis on. After taking a sip of water and a few deep breadths, I continued on my merry way. Bam! I went down again. Boy, when this trail gets you down, it doesn’t just kick you, it stomps you.
My next two runs down the trail were less dramatic. I slowed down and that made all the difference. I then made a couple of easy runs down the Snowshoe side to cool off before lunch.
After a quick lunch at the Shaver’s Center, I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the luxury of free skiing and minimal crowds on (you guessed right!) Cupp Run. You can literally ski this bad boy all day and not get bored. I experimented with as many different lines down the mountain as my body would allow. One skier from Pittsburgh had an altimeter with him. His goal that day was to bag 20,000 feet of vertical. As for me, I quit at about 18,250 -; not a bad way to end the season!
Snowshoe closed for skiing on April 7th: one day after my visit. My endless Mid-Atlantic ski season has finally come to a close. I’m already thinking about next season. As Warren Miller said in a film many years ago, “winter will come, the snow will fall, the sun will shine, and isn’t that enough?”
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