I skipped work on Friday to visit Pennsylvania’s Whitetail Resort with two friends. We arrived to find plenty of snow, with no crowds to speak of. With the recent snowstorms and cold temperatures the past several days, Whitetail has all but one slope open.
We took advantage of a trick we discovered last time, and rather than wait in the normal ticket window line to purchase tickets, we headed into the Guest Services office, just to the right of the ticket window. You can buy tickets there, and as with our last visit, there was no line inside. And, it’s warm inside, with no wind threatening to blow the lift ticket out of your hands as you attempt to place it on your coat.
Surface conditions were great -; no ice, with plenty of loose granular that was easy to carve in. In fact, the conditions were so good we had to check the calendar to make sure it was really March 11, 2005. Temperatures stayed in the upper-30’s throughout the day, and the sun hid behind clouds most of the time, which kept the snow in great shape -; it kept the snow from softening up as the day wore on.
For brief periods of time, clouds passing across the mountain brought some forms of mixed precipitation. In the early afternoon, for awhile big, fluffy snowflakes fell to the ground. Later on, there was a brief, light rain shower -; on the bottom half of the mountain. The top half of the mountain had snowflakes. But these were just flurries, never lasting more than a few minutes. At other times during the day, the sun poked out through the clouds, to let us know it was still up there.
Whitetail was running all of the lifts except for the Lift Off Quad -; with absolutely no lift lines, there was no need to run that quad, which simply supplements the bunny slope area. Fanciful, the far-left intermediate off of the high-speed quad, was Whitetail’s first spring casualty, closing earlier in the week due to thin cover. But the rest of Whitetail’s slopes had solid coverage -; deep snow, usually from edge-to-edge. Snow Dancer had a couple spots where some dirt was trying to claw its way above the snow, but nothing that nightly grooming won’t keep in check.
The halfpipe is still open, but from the looks of it, it’s not serving much of a purpose. It did not have good snow cover on the sidewalls. We saw some skiers skiing down the center of the halfpipe, but it’s in no shape for catching air. The terrain park, on the other hand, appeared in great shape -; with lots of features entertaining a crowd of skiers and boarders. The terrain park appeared to be one of the busiest areas at Whitetail on Friday.
My favorite trails of the day were Limelight, which parallels the Whitetail high-speed quad, and Far Side, the rightmost expert slope at Whitetail. Expert slope Expedition is the only slope at Whitetail that has remained ungroomed, and it was sporting an ocean of well-defined moguls. Drop In, the brief but steep entryway to Whitetail’s advanced terrain, had really nice snow -; possibly the best stashes of powder at the resort.
Around 1 p.m., the smell of the grill wafting onto the slopes was too much to resist, and we headed to the lodge for some cheeseburgers. The flame-broiled cheeseburgers were tasty. Tip: if you want to save some money during lunchtime, you can fill up a cup with ice -; on the past two trips, Whitetail has not charged for this. You can then use a fountain by the condiments to fill the cup with water.
On the whole, it was a very relaxing day at Whitetail -; everyone there was thrilled with finding such great snow conditions this late in the season.
Nighttime temperatures the past several nights have dipped well below freezing, but Whitetail has not made snow. It appears Whitetail has put the snowguns away for the season. With a healthy base on all but one slope, and reserve piles of snow at the top of the slopes, ready for patching any bare spots that surface -; Whitetail is in a position to stay open with good conditions into late March and possibly even April. So when will Whitetail close? That will purely be a business decision. If visitors keep showing up at the slopes, Whitetail will stay open -; but if visit levels drop off, Whitetail will close even if there’s plenty of snow left.
Unfortunately, in many recent years, the mid-Atlantic ski season has come to an end not due to lack of snow but due to lack of visitors. March snow conditions are excellent right now, so DCSki would like to broadcast the following Public Service Announcement: Hey, you! Put the golf clubs down and step away slowly! Now grab your skis, and head to the local slopes. You’ll find some of the best conditions of the season, with minimal crowds, and plenty of sunshine. Golf can wait.
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer.