I can’t believe how much fun I am having in our nearby areas at this, the best month of the season. The conditions in most of our local areas certainly rival those in any other part of the country. In fact, we may now be better than most.
While all the areas were great, we spent a superb day Saturday, March 5, 2005 at Pennsylvania’s Liberty Mountain Resort. The snow conditions were nearly perfect - everyone was raving about them. Sure, you can always find something to complain about if you want to - some slush in a few areas in the afternoon, and some thin cover on a few slopes with rocks starting to pop through. But, what can you expect? It was warm, sunny, and the crowds were healthy. Naturally, the slopes showed wear in the afternoon. Still, I did not hear anyone complaining. Quite the opposite - everyone was having a blast.
The annual Springfest added to the atmosphere. Music flooded the front side of the mountain - thanks to a DJ and his wonderful selections. It is so nice to ski to the strains of Elvis, Oldies but Goodies, country music, and more up-to-date material. Good music loosens one up, and helps in dancing down the mountain. At the mid-station of the Alpine Quad, we were met with a lift operator blowing bubbles at us and handing out bubble gum. On the mountain, there were a few giant furry creatures to pose with, and a variety of games were in progress. Sunday’s events included the ever-wacky and popular pond skimming competition and an air guitar competition (without skis).
In the meantime on the runs, the crowds were well managed, the lift lines were efficient, and everything moved smoothly while we were there. The snow was a bit slow, so there did not seem to be the sensation that you would be crashed into by an overly aggressive or out of control snow demon. My husband and I took the single diamond White Lightning for the first run. It was in near-perfect condition, and not too crowded, except for race training in progress on one side. I enjoyed it so much I took it several times during the day.
The terrain parks were in excellent shape, and well-utilized. While I have passed my prime for something like that, I love to view the young athletes doing their jumps and flips while I look down from the overhead chair. There are several well-constructed parks at Liberty - Adventure Alley, Westside Park, Half Pipe, and Vertigo Park. They have a number of features with awesome names - cheese wedge, flat down box, battleship, hip, butterbox, mailbox, the windshield wall, and others. Maybe in another life I will come back as a fearless snowboarder and skier, and learn to handle them! In the meantime, I was content to observe, as I rode the Alpine Side to the top.
The backside of the mountain has the tougher trails, of course, and the dramatic view of the Pennsylvania farm land (and civil war battlefields). This year, the biggest moguls were on Upper and Lower Eastwind. The bumps were soft, but huge. One run was about all I could manage. While I have little style, it was great to observe the many experts gliding their way through them. The youngest kids were best, but there were several adults who looked as though they were gracefully gliding over ocean waves. It proves once again that a superb Eastern skier can be among the most skilled and accomplished in the world - the challenges are definitely there!
While I enjoyed all the runs, I had the most fun on Sidewinder (intermediate), the Strattas, and the Ultras. Again, the conditions were such that I could go all day. And, there was no high altitude fatigue or avalanche risk! I do love the West, but we do have some advantages in the East (when it is not bitter cold and icy!).
The tubing at Liberty was also in full swing. Tubing grows in popularity each year. It is fun, exciting, relatively inexpensive, and safer, especially for the younger ones. The Liberty tubing area has its own parking lot, plus new luxury shuttle buses which take you to the tubing park from the main area.
One more point about Springfest - the costumes and decorations were fun. The different resort services created their own themes. The one I liked best was the Liberty Mountain Memories, which was creatively decorated like a cardboard VW van from the days of Woodstock. But it did not win the first prize - that went to The Children’s Learning Center and Playcare which featured a 50’s theme, a small black and white television, and delicious milk shakes and banana splits for 12 cents each. The judges couldn’t resist them! Other great costumes were seen in Guest Services. In addition to the clothes, two beautiful, ornate, antique couches were moved in. Gave them a high-class bordello atmosphere, which might be fitting, since it is right next to the popular McKees Tavern.
So, in summary, this is a fun time to go to the slopes. Believe me, if it was awful, I would say so. But, I have always favored spring skiing, and this year is better than most. True, there is a golf course next to the Liberty slopes. Some lonely golfers were seen walking though the light snow cover, waiting for it to melt. Their time will come soon, but it is not here yet. For the next few weeks, snow sports rule!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.
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