To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” That sums up my experiences skiing West Virginia’s Canaan Valley and Timberline Resorts during the Christmas weekend. Weather and snow conditions proved excellent, and there were no lift lines. But limited snowmaking at both resorts and a lack of natural snow translated into very meager terrain offerings at what is ordinarily the Mid-Atlantic’s snowiest ski region.
I arrived at Timberline on the afternoon of December 24, 2004 and managed to get in four runs on White Lightning before the lifts closed for the day. Despite the fact that this was a holiday weekend, Timberline did not offer night skiing either on the 24th or the 25th. It also did not open until 11 a.m. on the 25th and failed to notify customers of this change of schedule on its snow report. When I called the snow phone at 10 a.m., I received the report from 24 December. Frustrated, I decided to walk down to the lodge to see what was going on. There, I met another disillusioned customer, but not a single Timberline staff member. Instead of waiting around for something to happen, I headed over to Canaan Valley.
Timberline Resort over the holiday weekend. Photo provided by John Sherwood.
Not only was Canaan Valley open, but it had parking lot attendants in place to direct traffic and plenty of ticket booth personnel on hand to keep lines short. Furthermore, tickets were only $25. I made ten quick runs on the only top-to-bottom evolution open: Canaan Curve-Chute-Valley Vista-Face. Canaan Curve takes the skier from the top station of the quad chair to a short black diamond steep called Chute. From there, the run turns into a gentle blue called Valley Vista until it hits a lower black diamond headwall called Face. The entire run covers 750 feet of vertical and no section of it is steeper than the two headwalls of Upper White Lightning. In short, any confident intermediate should be able to handle it with ease.
Blue skies, low crowds, and firm snow made for an enjoyable experience but after ten runs, I was ready to head back to Timberline. Canaan Valley added two 5-million gallon water reservoirs this season, but I did not see any dramatic improvement in snowmaking. Some guns were going but the snow base at the resort was lower than Timberline’s and it had far less terrain open - just the one run mentioned, a small section of Lower Timber, and some beginner terrain on the righthand side of the mountain (Bunny Buster, Sissy Schuss, and B Slope). Am I missing something?
Canaan Valley Resort over the holiday weekend. Photo provided by John Sherwood.
Timberline not only offered more vertical with White Lightning (1,000 versus 850 feet) but by Sunday, it also opened its 2.5-mile beginner run, Salamander. People often say that Herz Mountain (Timberline) skis bigger than Weiss Knob (Canaan Valley), and I must confess that on Saturday, it did. In fairness to Canaan Valley, when the entire mountain is open, its breadth can make up for its lesser vertical but in a limited terrain environment, Timberline proved to be the better bet.
Timberline, however, was not without its problems. When I left Washington on the 24th, the resort’s snow report claimed that Dew Drop would open on the 27th. Not only did Timberline not open that trail on the day promised, but the web site now claims that it will not open until January 3, 2005.
Timberline has made great strides with its new web site, which includes one of the region’s best web cams and photo galleries, but the site’s snow report should not promise what the resort cannot deliver. I witnessed Mountain Operations working diligently in very cold weather throughout the weekend to make more snow. Guns were blazing, and groomers were working overtime preparing slopes and moving equipment around the mountain. I applaud these Herculean efforts, and only request that the web report not raise hopes to levels that the resort cannot fulfill.
Another shot of Timberline from the holiday weekend. Photo provided by John Sherwood.
Another shot of Canaan Valley from the holiday weekend. Photo provided by John Sherwood.
I just received word from Timberline that two new trails have opened:
Lower Almost Heaven
Together, these trails provide an excellent intermediate run down from the top.
The resort is also making snow on its signature double black trail, Off The Wall.
With respect to snow reports, the webmaster explained that he is not responsible for the reports. Those reports are updated by the mountain.
john your a bit more optimistic when looking at these two mountains than I think most are. The customer service is ridiculous!!! I noticed that the dc ski sight pulled the "what's new" article about cannan and their 100 percent snowmaking increase claim, which was a good idea because it was false advertising-they barely have any snow on the mountain. As for timberline I purchased a night skiing ticket this morning only to later find out early this afternoon that they would only have night skiing from midstation and the bunny hill not from the top(upper dew drop and lower heaven) as advertised. Turns out that the lights didn't work. Don't you think that is something you would check before the season started. Then when I went to get my money back for myself and my two kids the people in the main office I talked to tried to tell me that upper dew drop and lower heaven were open for night skiing. they didn't even know-no wonder the ski reports are wrong! Then I looked at the trail maps in the brochure and they said that upper lightning was supposed to be lit for night skiing as well. What is going on at timberline? who's running that place? or who's not running that place is a better question!
Julia -- For the record, DCSki didn't pull any articles related to Cannan Valley Resort. There is still a "What's New for 2004" article for Canaan Valley that indicates there was a 100% increase in snowmaking capacity. According to the resort, two 5-million gallon water reservoirs were added over the summer, which increases the snowmaking capacity. (The "100% increase" doesn't necessarily refer to an increase in guns, or a willingness to run the guns.) I have received no indication that the claim is incorrect and haven't pulled any articles. Snowmaking capacity enhancements often mean a resort has the option to make snow in more situations than previously (for example, when water availability is low due to drought, restrictions, etc.)
I don't want ot start an argument here because I think this is a good forum that gives us a better idea as consumers to what is really going on at resorts, but amen Julia! The customer service is ridiculous at both these resorts. I could site several examples, but I won't- I just won't return to these mountains. My family and I left the Canaan Valley area this afternoon having skied at both resorts over the holidays. There wasn't much of anything open at Canaan but the snow was good, and there were no crowds. There wasn't much open at Timberline either, which was disappointing because I too was misled by the Timberline web site and several calls we made to the mountain prioir to our trip about trail openings and night skiing. And when I looked for answers in the office we were brushed off by employees who explained, "sorry I just started working here". And John although I don't doubt your honesty as a reporter and I enjoy your articles, you might want to check your sources because we left Timberline Resort today at lunch and skied until 11:oo am. There had been no snow made on "off the wall" and it was well above freezing when we left. Sounds like timberline is giving you wrong information too!
My original article was much more critical of both resorts but I decided to revise it and make it more optimistic. These comments now make me question that decision.
I'm getting tired of seeing the same problems arise year after year at these mountains. Both mountains need to improve their snowmaking by 500 percent. Whitetail, a resort with a microclimate 10 degrees warmer than the CV, should not be able to open more terrain year after year in December than CV or Timberline.
CV needs a rope tow or a poma to get people from the ticket window up the steep slope to the quad. Timberline needs to update its snow phone and snow report on A DAILY BASIS!!! All people who answer phones at Timberline or sell tickets should be trained properly on mountain operations. They need to know what trails are open, what's lit for night skiing, where snow is being made, and what trails may open in the near future. I remember driving up to NH from Boston last year and phoning Sunapee to see what was open. The woman who answered the phone was a true pro: in three minutes, she gave me an idea of the weather, lift lines, and terrain open at the mountain. She was honest and knowledgeable and I appreciated it. Timberline needs to train its front line staff in the same manner.
Although I'm not nearly the CV regular that John Sherwood is, I suspect that everyone who has skied at T-line or CVR in both good snow times and bad shares some of the same frustrations. Without question, some of my best ski days in the mid-Atlantic have been at T-line in good snow periods. I'm sure many would agree. But could anyone say, without their fingers and toes crossed, that their best ski days in BAD snow periods have been at T-line?
The solution (for non-property owners!) is to take the Canaan Valley for what it is...a great place to ski when Mother Nature cooperates. But it ain't the place to go when terrain variety depends on snowmaking, or when enjoyment depends on knowledgeable staff and good lift infrastructure.
I'm not optimistic this will change anytime soon. Theories of greedy or cheap owners aside, the problem is created by geography and simple economics. The CV is simply too hard to get to for it to be economically rational to invest in extensive snowmaking or better infrastructure. Capital is available -- just look at the improvements made at smaller resorts like Wisp over the years, or the funds repeatedly available to re-re-re-open Laurel Mtn. But places like Whitetail, Wisp, Roundtop, and the like get a lot of day skier traffic...and day skiers are by definition mobile. Competition forces investments in snowmaking (to avoid a wipeout in a thin snow year) and infrastructure. True, Snowshoe is also inaccessible, but Snowshoe is really a different kettle of fish: it has the vertical (at least on two trails!), the elevation and the snowfall to be perceived as a legitimate destination resort...perhaps not unanimously, but by enough skiers to justify the economic investments there.
Sadly, the CV probably isn't quite big, high or snowy enough to be the next Snowshoe, and it isn't nearly accessible enough to compete for day skiers. So the owners sit back, keep investment low, and "make money when it snows". I don't see this changing, at least until Corridor H gets completed. I would love to be wrong about this.
A friend of mine from Slovakia put things in perspective. He read the article, took a look at the pictures, and chided me for complaining. He can't believe how well Timberline and CV grooms their slopes with Ratracks (Slovak for groomers). Apparently, grooming is still a rarity in some parts of the world. Here, we complain about limited snowmaking, and slow lifts, but in some parts of the world, not only is snowmaking non-existant but so is grooming!
I gotta keep reminding myself of the 26 inches we got in April 2004. When the stars align, Timberline can exceed one's wildest expectations about skiing in the Mid-Atlantic. May this "early winter of our discontent" turn into a glorious mid-winter and an even better Spring.
These mountains just don't know or care about what their customers want. Timberline is a great place when it snows but that is no reason for the customer service to be so poor. And when I say customer service I mean realiazing what your customers want as well as being polite and knowing your information. Families go where kids will have a good time. You don't need a lot of snow to put up some " grinds" and jumps for the kids to play on. I took my two boys to Timberline for a couple days over the holidays and was surprised to see that there was no jump area open. We've been to massanutten, wisp, and winterplace this year and even these small mountains had what my boys call "grinds" set up to play on, infact they all opened up jump areas as soon as the mountains opened. And if you have teenage boys than you probably know what "grinds" are too and that kids want to go where there are jumps. Atleast Canaan Valley Resort had a couple rails set up for the kids to play on. I just don't think the folks at timberline know what their skiing customers, with snowboarding kids, want. How hard is it to set up a couple things for the kids to play on. Canaan is right next door and has less snow made-they have some stuff for the kids to play on and that is where we spent are time and money.
I have to hand it to them... T-line did a great job of opening Dew Drop for the 29th. I mean, that's almost a week ahead of schedule for the trail. I witnessed the light situation... it seemed like they hadn't prepared the trail enough since they rushed the opening of it some. Or maybe lights are like those Christmas strands, when one goes out they all go out (tis the season).
The lack of terrain-features does irk me, as many other customers. But Timberline needs to hear that from their customers! E-mail them, drop-in the business office, or threaten to jib the pumphouse roof until they get rails set-up ;) They've got a great place for them where the halfditch used to be. It would be lift entertainment... as well as a good time for those of us bored with three runs open from the top.
Oh, and as much as they claim they are making snow on OTW, I'll let the cat out of the bag, they haven't started yet, and with the weather being possibly too warm to make any snow for the next week or so, don't get your hopes up. Sure they got guns on it... sure they aren't firing yet. But it does look promising for Upper Thunderstruck when the weather cools off again.
Canaanman, your analogy that relates Timberline to a christmas tree is cute. Yet Timberline is a resort that made roughly 3.5 million dollars in money in real estate sales this summer for their slope side lots. Don't you think they could of payed someone to check the lights before the season started. But still I will use a similar analogy in response to Scott(dc ski editor) who disclaims for Canaan that "100 percent% increase doesn't necessarily refer to an increase in guns, or willingness to run the guns". I put a pool in my back yard this past summer for the family and I plan on telling the kids we will have a 100% increase snow making capacity in the back yard this winter. If the kids are upset at my telling them about the increase in snowmaking and the fact that I know no more snow than last year will be made, I'll simply tell them sorry your mom and I were just saying if we wanted to make snow in the back yard we could because we have a large pool of water sitting around. Oh yeah by the way our pool doesn't have a leak in it and it will hold water, unlike one of canaan's ponds. By the way I was wondering if you guys at dc ski charge canaan resort for advertising? And yes canaan man timberline is the last resort in the midatlantic, myabe the east coast, to open a terrain park area, I was at canaan yesterday and they even have four rails up. Who's in charge of the terrain park at timberline? Are they sick, on vacation, or do they just not feel like taking the half of a morning it will take to put some rails out? I know a lot of people who feel the same way about these two resorts-I hope you guys won't edit this comment-the consumers should know, and maybe someone at these resorts will see these comments and they will get a clue. Because I think canaan man is right-we have to let them know how we feel about the service and false advertising! These resort have potential.
No, Jim, Canaan Valley Resort does not pay DCSki for advertising. And if they did, that wouldn't affect DCSki's editorial one way or another. DCSki noted that Canaan Valley Resort had increased snowmaking capacity by 100%, because that was reported to us and we have no reason to doubt that claim. If Canaan Valley isn't taking full advantage of its snowmaking system, that's something that readers will point out in the DCSki Forums and in trip reports.
The really nice thing about having 28 resorts within a half day's drive is that you're not forced to go to any of them -- you have a choice. DCSki is a great place to share the good points and bad about each resort, but it's not a place to "bash" resorts. And I'm not sure why you think DCSki is sugar coating anything; if you read John's article, I think it's pretty candid. My comment was merely clarifying an assertion by Julia that DCSki had pulled an earlier article; that wasn't the case.
Sure, both Canaan and Timberline have 100% snowmaking capabilities now... it's unfortunate they're going 1% at a time.
Don't smite the park director at Timberline. He's a good guy. He's not in charge of what the mountain ops do. He's pleaded his case with management, and unless customers put some pressure on, you won't see the park features until mid-to-late January. Sure, they're making snow in the park, so they can smash it down flat and call it 'open'. Seriously... give me a shovel and I'll work. Give me a rail and I'll set it up. Oh well... continute to blast management. Timberline is getting lame. The same thing every season. I was excited to hear about their acquisition of rails last season... or I mean the last half of last season.
I'm just going to build my own and leave them in my yard for it to snow. Or I'll make my own snow... all you need is a pressure washer and air compressor... probably could open your own park faster than Timberline.
All the comments made here, by John and the readers, contain excellent points. I just want John to remember, you are doing a great job, working hard, and trying to provide a service to all of us who love snowsports.
Keep up the great work, try your best, and don't get discouraged! I expect the resorts will try to improve their operations after all these comments.
Happy New Year everyone! Yours, Connie Lawn
Connie,these critics of both downhill areas at CV have been going on for years & nothing changes.I have talked to TL about this & they laugh & say ..Look at the lift lines..the people love this place!Mother Nature has spoiled them.They do not have the eye of the tiger that the lowland ski areas have.I am in the minority it seems in pushing the "almost heaven" Mount porte crayon ski area just to the south of CV because a lot of folks would rather just improve the existing areas.Come on!!!We need some new blood in the area....as the GAT man would say...BRING ON ALMOST HEAVEN!!!!!
Andy you are right i just posted a long rambling missive that was eaten by my computer but it sums to this: CV and TL have lame management but great potential a BRIGHT man like someone I won't mention could make a killing with his resort BRING ON ALMOST HEAVEN if CV and TL go under because of AH who really cares?
After spending a week at T-ine, I too was somewhat dismayed about the lack of open terrain. I am a long time skier of the valley's resorts and can say, without a doubt, that the mountain managements are overly cautious. T-line won't open a trail until there is ample base to last through a warm spell without having to close it. I remember a few years back when they had lightening, upper thunder, and several others open over the Christmas holidays but had to close several of the top to bottom runs when a similar warm spell hit. That year, we were jumping mud patches on the head wall of lightening in order to ski it. If mother nature doesn't cooperate soon, mountains of lesser elevations will be closing and the true mountain ski areas will be further restricted in what will open and when.
Canaan Valley does not have 100% Snowmaking and the two snowmaking ponds are only as good as for the amount of guns you have, the extra water is only good for draught times. In talking with some of the staff it seems that Canaan is more worried about the amount of payroll they can save then about the amount of snow they can make. It is amazing that the mountain managers at both Canaan and Timberline are brothers.
If you are really investing your hard earned money in a ski vacation, then do not waste your time at either Canaan Valley or Timberline. Invest your money in Snowshoe or Wisp they get it. The valley is sitting on a gold mine and nobody understands how to operate a ski area. It is like SKIING is an amenity at these two ski resorts.
If we wanted to pay in excess of $50 for lift tickets, and were willing to be held captive in choices for your Apre' ski and food dollars (IE snowshoe), then I am sure these resorts could change. But for the most part I like them because they are not Wisp or Snowshoe. They offer affordable skiing in a surrounding that is a beautiful as it gets. The towns of Thomas and Davis are real and offer unique opportunities for exploration and entertainment. Poor management I agree exists at T-line, but I think CVR does really well for the most part and is limited in scope due to the fact it is a State or national park. But that too, works to one's benefit. Like Mark say's. The great thing about the DCSKI area is that if you want 100% snowmaking, high speed quads, yadda ya, it is available. If you want a family run resort, even though it may be a dysfunctional one like most families, or a State/Government subsidized resort, then you have too. Most of these issues dissappear when it is snowing.
This area is great in that when the weather sucks, ie NOW!!!!!, you can still hit up resorts like Snowshoe and Wisp. You pay more bucks but you should have to when mother nature isn't helping and the resort has to pump out the snow and the dollars to give you such an experience.
On the other hand, when mother nature is helping out, ie last April, you can go to Timberline for 13 bucks and have 100% trails open, essentially, no lift lines, and one heck of a good time.
While this stinks when trying to purchase a mountain home, it rocks when being a daily commuter, especially one with a flexible schedule, ie. waiting FOREVER for your government security clearance to pass.
This is the first time I've seen this site and its a great way for consumers to know what is going on so I'll try to enlighten all of yens as much as posible. As a former employee of timberline these comments are no surprise at all, infact that is why I left a few years ago. If you think you guys are frustrated you should try working there! Keep letting management know how you feel-directly as canaanman suggested. The owner and managers of this mountain are not skiers, they don't know the ski industry, and they don't really care to listen to anybody who does-I'd call that bad business since. They mainly market to boyscout, girlscout, and church groups-which blows my mind because you can't make any money off those kids. If the owner invested his money in mountain infrastructure(lights, terrain parks, lifts, and clearing real glade runs) and marketed to real skiers he would be raking in the cash-why he doesn't - he doesn't even know what his product is-bad business since.
Becareful though about bashing the general employees, the ones you see on the hill, the only one's who are trying to make your experience a skiing one. They are only going to take so much when they only get payed minimum wage-barely $5 an hour when I was there. They are just as frustrated as you-they see the potential as well. The owner and managers just don't use them as resources-bad business since. I don't know if any of the same on snow employess are working there now, but when I was there dozens of lower level employees mostly ski school and ski patrol(but other departments as well) had years and years of ski industry experience and had great simple ideas that would improve the skiing experience for customers like you and me. Ideas like opening a terrain park as soon as the mountain opens,like every other mountain does on the east coast, clear out some of the tree runs in between the slopes so when you blow snow on the slopes you can take advantage of all the overblow snow that lands in the woods(and claim more skiiable terrain without blowing any more snow),let more runs bump up, and stop grooming all the powder flat on the slopes after it snows all night! The management doesn't even realize that skiers like to ski powder! I could go on forever-but these are just a few ideas that would make the skiing experience more enjoyable and most of them would be vary inexpensive if not cheaper(ie not grooming steep slopes on powder days)and would make the place more money,that's a no brainer,atleast you would think.
I went back there a couple times last season for the first time since I left and was impressed with off the wall and the crazy fun shapes- that ideas was pushed by the ski patrol. Not by mountain management. And the terrain park had fun shapes-although I was there late in the season and don't know when it opened. And believe me all the employees I new when I was there were just as eager as Andy and Gat for Almost Heaven to open up or for someone new to buy timberline-that way they could all work at a mountain that was more than just a hobby,or a tax right off, for the owner and where skiing and the love of the sport ruled! But If I were to bet I would guess things might change if management keeps hearing this stuff-I wouldn't be to happy if I spent, god knows what people are paying, for a slope side SKIING lot on a mountain that doesn't know what it's skiing public wants. BAd business since if you ask me.
Amen brother! (or sister)
What truly surprises me is that given all of Timberline's management problems, people are still lining up to buy $300,000 lots on the mountain and then dumping another $250,000 into those lots to construct 4,000 square foot trophy homes. Is it irrational exuberance or do these people know something that I do not?
These land sales are clearly allowing Timberline to sputter along while competitors make substantive upgrades in snowmaking, lifts, terrain parks, etc. Its the root cause of Timberlines malaise. Timberline is like a Third World oil-producing nation. As long as the oil flows, the same old corrupt regime can continue running the country poorly. The oil wells will have to dry up before there is a regime change.
My advice to owners, however, is not to wait until the land dries up. If they do, they will get nothing for the resort: pennies to the dollar. Furthermore, if they do not build the access trail to Winterhaven next year and do not install robust snowmaking on it to get it open, people will be reluctant to buy more of those lots. But if these owners sell while theres still some promising land to develop, they stand to make some good coin, especially with the prospects of more N. VA commuters coming to the mountain via Corridor H.
former t-line employee wrote: Be careful though about bashing the general employees, the ones you see on the hill, the only one's who are trying to make your experience a skiing one.
I think just about all the complaints about T-Line on this site are directed at the owner(s), not at the people we interact with when we ski.
John S: good comments and good analogy. I guess you property owners are in a more frustrating position than us day-trippers and occasional weekenders. The previously-mentioned comments about there being plenty of choices for DC-area skiers are good ones.
JohnL posted: "The previously-mentioned comments about there being plenty of choices for DC-area skiers are good ones."
Gotta second that comment !!
There is a resort 3 hrs drive south of DC, that has installed computerized snowmaking equipment on all of their trails. They've opened new trails or have expanded existing ones, and have really good people working the slopes and in the resort. (no waiting for drinks / dinner to be found here)
Just returned from boarding over the holiday weekend.....many slopes were open, they were not crowded and the lines were short at the lifts.
I'm not mentioning names....all you WV lovers, "keep on driving, waiting in lines and complaining".
I'll be down in VA...riding the slopes :)
Competition creates change. CV is a nice state run slope and it is what it is. However, TLine in my opinion IS SITTING on a GOLD Mine. But, they have no real competition to make them change. For that matter the owners of those trophy houses don't want change. They want their mountain just like it is. Bring on Tory Mountain and Almost Heaven!!!! That will make change at TLine happen, they won't be able to get $300K for a lot. The NVa. skiers (like myself) will drop money into those other better managed resorts....
BTW - Does anyone have any further news on Tory or Almost Heaven?
Do you seriously think that people are sitting on their trophy homes in the rain at Timberline right now, 14 trails at their disposal, and happy as a pig in poop while owners at Snowshoe are skiing on 46 trails? I doubt a single owner there during a winter like this isn't crying for some sort of change there in management. Johnjmh, any comments?
I hear you, but yes a lot of those owners I've spoken with like "their" mountain the way it is. In fact, the place they always refer to that they don't want "their" mountain to turn into is Snowshoe!!!!! People don't want the Commercialization. I grant you they want some change, but they like the mountain the way it is.
Most of the property owners want Timberline to be more like Stowe than Killington. They want a rustic mountain with limited commercial development, and dont mind putting up with slow lifts in exchange for this ideal.
Unfortunately, winters like this one underscore the need of Mid-Atlantic resorts to be more commercially savvy in order to offer decent skiing in marginal weather conditions. For me, if that means more commercialization, Im willing to make some sort of trade-off just like the town of Stowe did with the new Spruce Peak village. Intrawest or Snow Time could do a much better job of running the mountain and ensure more and better skiing. I dont want Reston transplanted to the Canaan Valley but I could put up with a small base village at Timberline.
One of the problems with the owners of those trophy homes is that they know nothing about skiing and ski resorts. They like WV and the Canaan Valley, and think the skiing at Timberline is super. It can be super under the right conditions but winters like this one demonstrate that theres no substitute for a first-rate snowmaking system in this region. I think the chickens will come home to roost for some of the property owners when they see how paltry their rental income will be for this season. People who dont own property are beginning to vote with their feet and avoid Timberline. They are willing to pay more money to visit Snowshoe and 7 Springs.
As for day-trippers, they want to come in, log a lot of vertical in 4 hours, and leave. Whitetail understands this concept perfectly. High-speed lifts would make T-line more appealing for day-trippers, who will be more and prevalent as more segments of Corridor H get constructed.
As for me, Im holding onto my small condo because I now enjoy the non-ski season in the Canaan Valley more than the ski season. In the warmer months, the area offers unlimited hiking, mountain biking, and bird watching opportunities and Ive come to enjoy those activities as much skiing in the valley. If skiing were my only goal, I would have sold out a long time ago and become a day-tripper and an occasional overnight skier, focusing most of my visits on two places: Whitetail and Seven Springs.
John, I think you hit the nail on the head. The rustic feel is one of the things I like about Tline. But, as you say the right corporation could find the right balance between the good things about TLine and the things that would make it a little better. That takes money, so just like Stowe they will need a little trade-off to make it work.
Since you seem to know what going on up there have you heard anything else about Tory or Almost Heaven? Timelines, etc....
No word on Almost Heaven. However, WV Highlands Conservancy sources tell me that no one has applied for use permits for Forest Service land on Roaring Plains--an indication that not much is happening with Almost Heaven. Bright can't wait too long on this project because of rising interest rates and the threat of Roaring Plains becoming a Wilderness Area, which would make it untouchable for ski area development. Also, I suspect the skier number decline we'll see this winter is going to turn off investors. To build the resort, Bright will need to demonstrate that he can develop a snowmaking system that rivals Whitetail's or Snowshoe's.
As for Tory, your guess is as good as mine. I've always believed that this a better site for a ski resort and Wisp certainly has the ability to develop a first class resort.
I was at Wisp for the first time in almost 20 yrs. this past weekend. Talk about a lot of changes, I used to ski there in college. They certainly have the money to make Tory a worthwhile resort, with some vertical unlike Wisp.
Thanks for the update
A "rustic" resort with a lodge that looks straight out of the Brady Bunch! The very thought is laughable.
I have to agree with the general sentiment of the posts. T-Line has a lot of pontential. The problem is that the business owners don't want or care to focus on the skiing aspect of the business. Their primary goal is to sell real-estate! They only problem with this model is that eventually, there will be these homes adjacent to defunct, overgrown ski slopes with rusting lifts. This will be due to the fact that the Mid-Atlantic skiers will (and have) let their feet do the talking and walk away!! At this point, the atmosphere will be VERY "rustic". I cound't imagine investing in a $500,000 vacation home there given this management stategy. I still visit (for now) T-Line/Canaan one trip a year (usually 2-3 days). This is in contrast to the 15 days or so that I spend at Snowshoe (Generally better and more consistent slope conditions!)
The term "rustic" is being too kind to t-line. Antiquatied is more appropriate considering the lifts, lodge, and other "features." I'm a property owner there and have been for some time. My question is why the owner doesn't invest in not only lifts (which goes without saying) but make plans now to improve/replace the base lodge area, it's parking, and services. My hat goes off to any employee who has to deal with the inexcuseable lack of space to work in. The employees are the backbone of this resort and have held it together with chewing gum and duct tape for too many years. A master plan should be developed to "reinvent" the base area, making it more user friendly, increase parking, and in the long run, increase profits. The profits of the sale of just three lots would go a long way towards paying for these long overdue improvements. Perhaps its time for those of us who are owners to put the pressure on the owners to invest in these imperative improvements.
I agree. Calling Timberline's archaic infrastructure "rustic" is I think, at best a bit of a stretch. That place is simply dirty, old, and or broken. I have a suggestion for a question on the Skier's Poll---- Who has the slowest lifts in the mid-atlantic?
Kim I think you nailed it. It is time for the home owner and skiiers to put pressure on the owner. Let him know you are paying for a product and that is a skiing experience! Let him know what homeowners and skiiers expect out of a mountain that is selling 1/3 of an acre slope side lots for 300,000 a piece. But I'll warn you it's hard to get him to listen. I'm a home owner and I have tried to approach the Owner and GM on a couple of occasions. They are easy to find- they are usually in the cafeteria line serving food to boy scouts. Unfortunately whenever I've approached them with ideas that might make their product better or customers happier, and more likely to return, they seem more interested in making sure the boyscouts get their lunches and that the trays are clean. They don't even understand what their product is or where their revenue is coming from. Unbelievable isn't it!
When someone, in an earlier comment, described the owner(s)and manager(s) of timberline as a "regime" I smiled to myself and thought of the possibility of a pre-emptive attack. An act of pre-emption--- Don't worry I don't military action is necessary. I was thinking more along the lines of just going in on a usually, occasional 12 inch powder day grabbing the owner and taking him to the top of his own mountain and forcing him to make big rooster tailed, powder turns down the face of an untracked "drop" or "off the wall". Then I bet he wood understand what amazing potential that place has!
I know the weather stinks but it is supposed to get cold this weekend and Canaan is offering a Rail Jam and Slopestlye event for the areas best riders on MLK weekend. Everyone should forget about T-lines "park" and come check out Canaan's attempt to throw a party. See you there
go to another ski resort like sugar mountain, wisp, snowshoe.
Sky valley, Ga is awesome. go there next year. They do a great job making snow and the slopes are much better and longer than most people would expect. It has 5 slopes and a 3,500ft elevation. I believe that it is the best place to learn to ski, and it has a friendly atmosphere.
Ok. My last word on this subject is that the owners of t-line are not skiers. Maybe they once were, but it is extremely difficult to convince someone that something is good if they can't experience it. I will be in the valley again this weekend just to enjoy being there. it doesn't necessairly have to be for the skiing, but I would prefer for the optimum experience that we all relish. Having been to most of the mid-atlantic ski areas at one time or another, I can say without qualification that each area has it's problems. Sugar Mt, for the quality of the snow, (usually heavy crud), Snowshoe for the thousands of never-evers who invade on the weekends, making a "safe" run a fleeting dream.
Winterplace, Wintergreen, and Massanutten have the "busses" and this winter, very marginal snow/mud conditions. Wisp is in the "day trip" range of DC and Baltimore as are Whitetail, Liberty, and Roundtop which means crowded conditions on Saturdays. 7 Springs has ample lift capacity, but is slammed on weekends. Hidden Valley is not that bad a bet, but too far for a day trip from Virginia. Oh, then there is Bryce, which is..., well...,it's Bryce. For all the moaning and groaning we all do, I am happy to just be at the lift for the first chair, at an area of my choice, and enjoy whatever is open (before the crowds hit). (Hope this $@% warm spell breaks soon though. Even I'm losing it!)
What is going on with the State Park, I heard they have a new Mtn. Manager -- Maybe they should bring back the previous one. Only 5 trails compared to TL 14 trails and Snowshoe 46 trails. WOW.... I read that they have more snowmaking capability this year --- either it is a marketing ploy or somebody does not know how to use the additional snowmaking.
Kevin C-apparently you don't take the time to watch the weather channel and if you did you would see that the CV area has had holding tempatures of 40-60 degrees everyday for the past 3 months with the tempatures falling only for a period of 10 days to make snow and during that time there was no natural snow fall and no 24 hour around the clock tempatures to produce snow. I see that you hold the new Mt. Manager at CV to blame but come on even the oldest and wisest Mt. Manager couldn't have made snow under these conditions. I don't think that you have taken the time to investigate before writing your article, it takes more than just water to make snow it takes a little thing called snow guns and if you had been paying attention while skiing these 2 resorts you would have noticed that one resort has more snow guns than the other and just to enlighten you to the subject of more trails being open at TL than CV it does take more than just water to produce snow. If you think that it is discouraging for you as a skier try putting your feet into CV and TL's shoes they do this to make a living and without cold weather there will be no snow so why not just be happy and satisfied with the fact that they have put forth effort and gave you a little something to ski on no they might not be the best skiing conditions but who would expect the most perfect at 60 degrees.
TC- You should check your facts as well. Before the season opened, mostly december- but also late november, there were several nights and a couple of days when both these resorts could have blown snow but elected not too for some reason. Snowshoe was blowing snow those days(same temps as in the valley). And there have been several days when timberline has been blowing snow and canaan wasn't. I don't know why- just an observation.
Kevin C- I hear good things about the new Mountain Manager at Canaan Vallley. I think we are going to see some "skier and boarder-minded" changes and improvements. Let us hope!
I think we can all appreciate what both these mountains have to offer, but I think we all know if they invested more time and money in improving snowmaking then we could be appreciating a lot more terrain right now and during - God forbid- any warm periods in the future.
Let it snow!!!
DC Ski reader-sometimes people jump to conclusions before they really know what they're talking about just because Snowshoe is blowing snow does not mean that it is cold enough in the valley. If you haven't taken the time to look at the elevations between the CV area and the Snowshoe mountain maybe now is the time to do so. I don't know where your getting your information from about when the weather was cold enogh to make snow in the CV area but it is completely wrong. I also see that you have made a comparsion between the TL and the CV for making snow during a few semi-cold nights. CV has tried to make snow since the New Year but unfortunately it takes colder than 30 degree tempatures to produce alot of snow and it never will matter how much is made on those few nights whenever the days bring 70 degrees and rain, so based on your snowmaking ideas it sounds to me that you have made an observation based completely on discouraging the skiers from coming to the CV. Sometimes people like you and Kevin C want to point a finger at the first sign of misfortunate weather but rememberthere is always 4 fingers pointing back at you. I do have to agree with you about the New Mt. Manager sometimes change is good if people are willing to be patient and I do believe that good things will happen at the CV if the weather agrees and people are willing to give him a chance and for everyone else they need to remember that resorts everywhere operate just like any other business and that is on a chain of command and unfortunately the first person that people want to blame is not always the correct one. Hurray it's finally getting cold with a few snow flurries flying and yes CV is making snow!!!
Anyone else notice how worked up people get about this subject from both sides? TC, You can be a smart Alec all you want about the temperature comparison with Snowshoe and the Valley but have you ever looked at a map...the valley is clearly more northern. From what I've noticed, they have pretty much the same temperatures for the most part. And besides, there's always the Dolly Sods cam and real time weather station site to look at if you have any doubt they could be making snow.
The fact is that some places like Snowshoe like to take a chance earlier in the season with a risk of losing money and all the snow they made. Some would rather wait until its more economically feasible. Hey, its their choice to run how they like. If I remember right though, Timberline took a chance in mid-November and made mad snow for a few days. It became apparent that a warm spell would melt all their snow so they backed off and waited for a more sustained cold spell. Same applies to the decision to make snow 2 nights when you know it'll melt the next few days anyway. Snowshoe has a reputation to uphold, condo sales to make, and so on as an incentive to make snow every chance they get. They also have the fincances to lose a little here and there to uphold that reputation. Timberline and Canaan don't necessarily.
The major problem this year was that Timberline was using their typical snowmaking mindset which works well for them in typical seasons. If we had only had 1 week of 45-50 degrees with a little rain here and there they would have recovered nicely and moved to other trails. Everything would have been fine. This is just a hard time for everyone and the fact that Snowshoe has lasted with 30 trails just makes everyone else look worse than they really should. I mean heck, look at 7 springs. Its been documented on here that they have superior snowmaking to pretty much anyone out there yet they have had only 7 trails for a week or so.
I have worked at both resorts, Canaan Valley and Snowshoe. TC is correct in stating that Snowshoe has had better snowmaking weather this season. Sometimes CV has better snowmaking weather than Snowshoe. While working at both mountains I have seen inversions on multiple time, whereas the temp on top of the mountain is warmer than the bottom of the mountain. Also it is not only the temperature that a mountain mgr is concerned with, they are also concerned with humidity, dew points, fog, etc.... All of this can affect the making of snow... It is a science... Could Canaan have done better, Maybe -- Maybe not... It is hard to judge unless you have all of the facts... In the Southeast Snowshoe will continue to be the KING of the Ski Resorts from a size standpoint. However each skier has their likes and dislikes.... I am sure that all of the Ski Resorts in that region are struggling... Because the market areas they draw from the weather has also been warm... I would like to end by saying I have known three mountain mgrs at CVR. BEFORE PEOPLE WANT TO USE THIS FORUM AS AN ATTACK MECHANISM THEY SHOULD KNOW THE FACTS.
JR-looking at the map to see that the CV area being more northern has absolutely nothing to do with it. There is clearly a 500ft difference in elevations between the CV area and the Snowshoe Mtn. that might not seem like awhole lot of difference to you but when it comes to making snow clearly being more northern doesn't always mean that it is good snow making weather there is other factors to consider. I also see that you have made an observation that the tempatures are similar in comparison but again you are wrong and unless you live in the CV area you have no idea what kind of unpredictable weather the valley has had this ski season exspecially when it comes to making man made snow. You can take all the time you want looking at the Dolly Sods weather cam but if you hadn't noticed when you were looking at your map of the CV area the resorts are only located near Dolly Sods not on it so why you have arrived at your conclusion to use the cam is only a decision you would make not a guide that the resorts would use in making decisions to make snow. I also see that you have stated that the CV area only had 1 week of warm tempatures but again you are wrong. You make statements that the TL and the CV were and are just saving money by not making snow but again you are wrong there is not a resort out there that would deliberatly sabotage themselves by not making snow every chance that they got. So no I'm not just getting myself just worked up or being a smart alec as you have observed I just would like for people like you to be more accurate on the information that they feed the public and quit arriving to there own conclusions about making snow when clearly they have no idea about the CV area's weather. Sam C- you are correct in stating that every skier has there likes and dislikes a person could compare sking to soda almost everyone likes it but not everyone likes the same type.
Jeesh, I was defending both of you and you step up and start blasting me now. Beech Mountain has a 500 ft (or so) elevation advantage over snowshoe but you don't see people saying they have better snowmaking temps. And yes, I know the difference in latitude, (or longitude, I can never remember which is which) is greater between snowshoe and beech than between snowshoe and the valley so stop thinking of ways you can call me stupid. I was simply saying that being further north nulifies the elevation advantage somewhat and they basically balance out overall. I didn't state they had only one week of warm temps in the valley, learn how to read before you tell me I'm wrong. First you said "it never will matter how much is made on those few nights whenever the days bring 70 degrees and rain" now you say "there is not a resort out there that would deliberatly sabotage themselves by not making snow every chance that they got". Seems like if it wouldn't matter if they made snow it would be sabatoge to even try to make snow and waste your money.
Chill out a little man. You seem a bit high strung.
I do agree we shouldn't attach management unless we directly know whats going on. I'm sure there is way more to this story than weather.com, dolly sods cam, etc could ever lead us to believe.
Checkout www.snocountry.com and look at all of the ski resorts that are struggling.... I may be wrong but I don't think that anyone is 100% open in the Tri-State area. Skiing is so weather dependant -- That is why it is so important that Resorts offer other things to do.. when the weather is crappy.... If the weather would cooperate TC KEVIN C JR and SAM C would have nothing to say.....
JR-apparently I'm not the only one that needs to learn how to read since one of the articles stated that CV was only concerned about saving money and not worried about producing snow and if I'm not mistaken the person said that CV wasn't even trying and compared them to Snowshoe and TL who has been I was just letting the public know that it was untrue that CV has been trying to make snow and not just watching there budget although watching a budget isn't always a bad thing. You are the one who offered to give input on a discussin that I was having with someone else and you are the only one that seems to be calling names so if that means that you are admittting to any of them then so be it and maybe you need to also learn how to chill out yourself.
...you lost me. Sorry I intervened Alec :)
Jr-apparently it don't take much to lose you. It must be awful living in such a small space called your head. Being at any ski resort instead of being around you would most diffently be the best ski resort ever.
you lost me because of your bad grammar, terrible run on sentences, and random half thoughts that were thrown into that previous post. I wasn't gonna mention it but...
Can we both stop being morons now :)
deal just go skiing it's alot more fun.
tc- I am the original anonymous skier who ended my comment by saying "let it snow", and I second that.
Let it snow!!!
I wasn't drawing conclusions simply based on observing that snowshoe was blowing snow and canaan and t-line weren't.
I live in the valley. I based my observations on opening my door and looking at the thermometer and then up at the two mountains. I trust the weather channel, weather underground, and accuweather for relative humdidity readings-"becus my theemometer don't read that". I noticed timberline and canaan weren't blowing snow and the nightly news, out of morgantown, showed that snowshoe was blowing-full force.
Yes, there are a lot of variables besides weather to consider when blowing snow. But if the temperature is 20 degrees and the relative humidity is 40 to 50 percent when the resort is three weeks within opening day, I say let them rip, full force, turn them all on!
And actually the conditions here have been vary similar to the conditions at showshoe, more or less. Passing weather fronts, snowfall or rain amounts, often vary. However temperatures seem to be fairly similar - do to the similar elevations. And the dolly sods conditions are going to be, within margin of error, the same as the conditions at the top of canaan and timberline.
tc- you can point as many fingers at me as you want(sounds like you want to show me, and others, the middle one), but I would gladly make some turns with you.
I was just making an observation and trying to add some more validity to this conversation.
DC Ski reader-people make speculations all the time about whether or not these 2 resorts should or shouldn't be making snow but I'm sure that neither place wants opinions like yours, maybe you should try making snow and report your observations about that since no one really knows what it takes to make snow until they have had the job. I think that the men at both these resorts should be applauded for keeping the resorts open during this warm spell. I also live in the valley and can see both of the resorts out my front door as well and I'm telling you that you are wrong in stating that CV hasn't even been trying to make snow. CV made snow twice last week but you should have already known that since you report that you can see the resort from where you live. Do you not realize that it is comments like yours about Snowshoe Making snow and TL and CV not even trying that causes people to go to other resorts to ski? It is also wrong comments like yours that causes me to get pissed off. So yeah DC Ski reader I'm relaxed and enjoying all the snowmaking that is going on at these resorts and praying to the good lord above that he sends a blizzard our way or at least lets the cold weather stay. For everyone else out there you should really come and check out the snowboarding activities going on at CV this weekend they are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!
DC Ski Reader, You may live in the valley ,but you need to get your facts correct. All of the above comments regarding CV/TL/and Snowshoe, except for a few of the writers should just mind their own business.Facts TL did blow snow early nov for a couple of nights testing their snow making system. Fact CV blew their first snow Nov 25th which resulted in significant snow being made, since that point TL and CV both have blown snow every chance they have had oppurtunity. TC's comment was correct regarding snowmakers and managers.I don't care if they have the oldest and wisest snowmakers/ski area manager or the youngest snowmakers/ski area manager they cannot control the weather, only the good lord above can.If you believe every thing you read or listen to you are quite gullable. DC Reader if you live in the valley then you should be aware of inversions, meaning higher up is warmer.I have been at CV lodge having lunch watching it snow and go across the road to the ski area to ski and it was raining on the mountain.If you are a skier and have had your eyes open,there is no comparision in the snowmaking systems at TL/CV or Snowshoe.By the way I don't point fingers, however if I was TC, I would just tell you to kiss my A!!. Their is no reason for you to reply to me because I will not waste my time on unfactual comments!!
WV Reader- "Kiss your Ass" ??? You need to grow up. Does your mom know your on the internet?
Sorry, but you guys are mistaken. I'm not talking about last week. And I'm not trying to bash these resorts.
I was talking about the time period after timberline tested their equipment and before they decided to start to blow snow again. If they can test there equipment, e.g. blow snow, then it's obviously cold enough to blow snow. And Yes I know what an inversion is, and yes it happens once in a while in the valley. Yes, it was warmer some of the nights and days during that time period I was talking about. But, some nights it was just as cold ,if not colder, than it was when they tested their equipmnet.
There were a couple occasions,after timberline tested their equipment, that these resorts could of made snow before the season started. They decided not to. I don't know why. I'm not judging- just the facts.
Both these mountains are blowing snow now.
TC- why do you care if skiers go to other mountains to ski? Why are you promoting events at Canaan? I'm sure it will be a great event, but I'm just wondering if your observations are a little bit biased.
Do you guys work at either of these mountains?
I think the larger issue here is that Timberline sold $3.5 million dollars worth of land lots last year but barely put any money back into the mountain.
Snowshoe has raised the bar for WV skiing, not only in terms of snowmaking but with respect to lifts and skier services as well. If Timberline wants to compete, it needs to improve its snowmaking capacity and eventually install a high-speed lift to the summit. Otherwise, skiers will continue to vote with their feet and go elsewhere.
Mountain operations at Timberline is SUPERB. They "kick butt" daily to make the best out of a bad situation. No one is mad at these guys; its the owners that upset people like me who have a vested interest in the mountain--i.e. own property. They seem to have a lack of vision for the mountain. Building a new trail without adequate snowmaking and lift services will hardly help the situation. They'll just end up robbing Peter to Pay Paul--i.e. delay snowmaking on Thunderstruck or Dew Drop in favor of making snow on the new trail. The new trail, however, will help sell more land, and that seems to be the only interest of the owners right now.
But, it will be about $$$ also.... Everything is these days. Hopefully, they will balance the owner profits with the user experience.
Here's to hoping!!!
No DC Ski Reader I don't work at either of these resorts and yes I am a little bias when it comes to both resorts in the valley, you should be as well. It brings tourism and tax dollars to our county and not to mention it but it does keep the people in our community jobs, but maybe you feel it's okay to slam these 2 resorts with your not so correct facts. DC Ski reader no I'm not just trying to drum up business for CV I was going on the fact I checked out the snowboarding competition for myself and it was awesome, maybe you should take the time to slip by CV to check it out, then you can judge for yourself, don't forget to watch how much fun even the youngest is having on the rails. This is the first time an event like this has been offered and since the events weren't going on at TL why would I have sent people to the wrong place to watch the snowboarding events? It sounds to me DC Ski Reader that you don't like people like WV Reader and myself telling you that your facts aren't always truthful and by the way if you just checked out the facts before you reported them wrong then you wouldn't have people like myself telling you that there wrong.
Yes, I would agree that you are a bit biased- I try not to be. Yes I would agree that the rail contest at CV on saturday was a success. It was great. Timberline should be putting on events like that as well.
Yes, you are correct that tourism brings dollars to our community, infact these resorts drive, or don't drive, the local economy during the winter months. And although the majority of jobs at these resorts are extremely low paying and offer no benefits, yes they do offer seasonal employment opportunities to locals.
But would you not agree that the skiing numbers this year have been way down. Would you not agree if these resorts put more money into there snowblowing systems and made some skier-minded changes then both resorts would being seeing more skier visits even during horrible warm periods like the one we just experienced.
I strongly agree with John Sherwoods last comment. Sounds like he knows what is going on.
I know both mountains well and I think most all of the dozens of criticisms on this page are dead on. It's no coincidence that so many people have posted comments here.
If the managers and owners of these mountains are reading I hope they take them seriously. Changes will be good for the resorts and the community.
These resorts have potential to really get this community going if they make some simple changes and invest some money in infrastructure and put on more events like the rail jam CV put on this past weekend. It was Awesome!!!
I don't know exactly how TL is setup as far as a S Corp, C Corp, or Sole Ownership or do they have to answer to a BOD. However CV is a State Facility that has a Management Contract. Therefore the Management's hands are tied to what they can exactly invest or not invest. They have a contract that is binding with the State of WV.
I agree that if it is possible and the CASH is available then why not invest in a CASH COW...
Sure both of these resorts along with the management and employees probably have envy with what Snowshoe is able to work with.
Canaan does a great job in putting Snow on their mountain with what they have to work with. They should be commended with a JOB WELL DONE... LOOK the number of TRAILS OPEN ARE INCREASING....
I can't imagine either Timberline or Canaan Valley being another ENRON..... I am not afraid to say that I am biased to SNOWSHOE OR CANAAN... Sorry TL but I also hear great things about them...
As for the wages --- Talk to the Employees you may be surprised........
Thought that my earlier comment would be my last on this topic, but.....I cannot believe the interest in this discussion. I hope that more than a few are reading this discussion. It could open some eyes and ultimately some pocketbooks. Anybody who knows a hoot about business knows that it takes money to make money. Perhaps if the owners of t-line were to take some of their money made in land sales and invest it back into the resort instead of sending it to waste elsewhere, they would make more than they ever imagined. I wish I owned that mountain. What a gold mine they are sitting on and don't even know it. Goes to say, short sighted people can't be given vision.
Think snow, make snow, let it snow!