My first trip of the year was an early winter week in scenic West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain for three days of skiing and riding with my brother and two teen-aged cousins. This Intrawest resort is the largest in the South and a mix of skiing and southern hospitality. All of the beginner, about half the intermediate, and one or two of the expert slopes were open. This was one of the first busy weekends and there were several little hiccups. Over the three-day period I chitchatted with visitors from the Carolinas, Georgia, Ohio, and Florida. Most of the staff had friendly southern accents -; including West Virginian, South American and Australian!
To kill time, my brother and I explored the Village. The influence of Intrawest and their ski resort recipe was clearly visible -; a little deja vu hit me when I first saw the Village -; it felt like Keystone and some of the other Intrawest-developed ski resorts. It’s a good formula -; staying at the Village was an extremely convenient experience that I will recommend.
We had dinner at the Foxfire Grill -; a BBQ restaurant comparable to DuClaws or TGI Fridays in price and food. After the staff steered me away from the fried bologna sandwich, I ordered a big juicy burger with BBQ pork and bacon on top. It came with fries and their “signature” deep fried pickle -; which tasted like a pickle with onion ring breading on it. Next, we hit the nightclub in the Shavers Centre. Seven p.m. was early and the place was nearly deserted -; only pool tables, a foosball table, a DJ (with about 5 songs), black lights, a few guys, and a bartender that didn’t know how to operate his cash register yet.
Day one. Skiing. We were out on the slopes and ready to ski at 8:40 a.m. The problem was that the lifts and the slopes didn’t open until 9 a.m. At 9, we started covering the terrain on Snowshoe Mountain. By noon we had covered the entire main side of the mountain. We had two favorites: Grabhammer, a fast black diamond run with a couple relatively steep sections, and Spruce, the terrain park with big air and rails, followed by a smaller mini terrain park. Both runs concluded at the Ball Hooter lift -; a 4-seat high-speed quad. By noon the rest of the folks at the resort figured this out because there was a 20-minute wait to get on the lift.
No worries. We went back up to our in-village, microwave- and fridge-equipped room in the Highland House for lunch, and then headed out afterwards to the Silver Creek area to avoid the crowds. It had started snowing earlier in the day and by the time we hit this face the wind had picked up and it was snowing heavily. We hit all three open runs -; the Mountaineer Terrain Park (with no terrain), Cant Hook->Robertson’s Run (green), and Fox Chase (blue). While skiing, we ran into Santa, Ms. Claus, and the Snowshoe Hare (we thought he was the Easter bunny, but apparently he took offense) and got a quick snapshot.
One lesson learned -; don’t ride the magic carpet lift. It is heated and will heat your skis. When you get back on the snow, ice forms on the bottom of your skis; it was like skiing on sandpaper for the next couple runs.
Having exhausted the new terrain, we headed back to Grabhammer and the terrain park. At this point it was still light out, snowing heavily, and getting cold -; about 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since this was day one of three, we headed in a little early. The wind was still going crazy, it was still snowing, and the temperature was still dropping. Talking with the staff, we found out that the snow would continue, and hoped some new runs would open the next day.
We headed out for dinner around 7 p.m. and found that all of the reasonably priced places in the village had one- to two-hour waits. We ended up heading in to the Cornerstone restaurant for $15 pasta -; a little more than we wanted to spend but with large enough portions for the next day’s lunch.
Day Two. Snowboarding. We left the warm confines of the room and out into the new 4” of snow and the frigid 4-degree weather for our second day of hitting the slopes. After one run, we ran back in to get face masks, toe warmers, and to turn our purple toes back to their normal pink. Unfortunately, there were no new runs open. For the rest of the day, we ended up alternating between braving the cold for two or three runs and going inside to get warm.
My brother and I hit happy hour at the Junction. They offered $2 domestics and $3 imports and a regularly priced appetizer menu. We had an order of “Wood chips”: potato slices given the potato skins treatment with sour cream, cheese and bacon.
We caught up with the rest of the crew and headed to Cheat Mountain Pizza for dinner around 5 p.m. This time we avoided the wait to be seated -; but instead got a wait once we ordered. After about half and hour we mentioned it to our waitress, and she gave us a complimentary order of breadsticks. After an hour, they gave us a complimentary pitcher of beer. At about an hour fifteen of waiting, we finally got our pizzas, which were very tasty. As we finished up, the manager came out and said that the meal was complimentary and didn’t charge us for anything. This was the first real weekend for the staff, and the cooks were not prepared for the crowds. While the waits were atrocious, the yummy pizza and appeasements went a long way to keep us happy.
Day Three. Skiing again. When we woke up the next morning, the weather had changed from the frigid temperatures to a balmy 32 degrees. More runs had opened including Knotbumper (black), the ten-treed Knotbumper Glades (black), Jhook (blue), and Grab Hook (blue). Unfortunately for us, Cupp Run wouldn’t open until the next day, so we spent the rest of the day on Grab Hammer, Knotbumper (which was starting to form moguls and have thin cover by the end of the day) and the Spruce Terrain Park. Along the way we ran into the Grinch on a snowboard!
On the drive home we stopped for dinner at the Hermitage Inn and Restaurant on Wva 28 in Petersburg. It was a surprisingly nice historic restaurant with southern comfort food including country ribs, chicken fried steak and sweet potato fries.
Overall, this trip was a good start to my 2004-2005 ski season. I really wish that Cupp Run and Shay’s Revenge were open and will probably visit again in the future. The resort was well suited for families because it hosted many events that cater to young children. With lots of beginner and intermediate terrain open, there was plenty of terrain for a learning skier/rider. The services had few hiccups but the folks were friendly and made sure we left satisfied. In the future, I would plan on coming when there is more snow and there are more runs are open.
Jon Hsieh is an avid skier and snowboard rider. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, rock climbing, and running.