Rollicking Runs at Roundtop: A Firsthand Report 6
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist
A torchlight parade at Ski Roundtop. Photo provided by Ski Roundtop.

Again, another perfect day of spring skiing! I love snow sports at this time of the year. It is a shame the people run out before the snow - the local areas are enjoying the best skiing of the season. I had a blast, with soft snow, few lines and, unfortunately for the area, rather sparse crowds. But there were a significant number of skiers and snowboarders participating in the 24-hour, all day and night Spring Carnival, which helped to raise money to fight blood disorders. More about that in a few minutes.

My husband Charles and I arrived in the afternoon on March 12, 2005, and were able to enjoy all the trails as often as we wanted. We were both intimidated by Upper Gunbarrel, which has to be one of the steepest little trails in the East. When you go down that cliff, you can’t be seen from above, and you can’t see anyone on the rim above you. The cautious cowards among us (me) side slipped down until we had the nerve to turn. As one skier told me, he was afraid to turn, because he knew he would shoot straight down as if he were in a gunbarrel. The best skiers on the trail were the ski patrollers - we watch in awe as they jumped the cliff, shot into the air, and then skied straight down. Now I know this may not be as tough as The Chutes at Mt. Rose, Nevada, but the trail is nothing to sneeze at. Thank goodness it is short, and the bottom part is a breeze.

The rest of the trails were also manageable, including the other double diamonds, Upper Ramrod, the Exhibition Park and the Recruit Super Pipe. The terrain parks were in excellent shape, and well-utilized. Of the single diamond trails, I enjoyed Upper Lafayette the best, and took it as often as I could. Only Barrett’s Trail, through the woods, was in poor shape, with a significant loss of cover in spots. But in general that day, the snow depth was 37 to 54 inches and 100% of the mountain was open.

There are so many good things to say about Roundtop. It is a wonderful resort, in the woods, about a 2-hour drive from Washington through magnificent countryside. There are some really beautiful horses in the pastures along the way. I never tire of seeing the dramatic two smoke stacks of Three Mile Island from the top of the mountain.

Roundtop has some real pluses. The most important could be the fact that Olympic gold-medal ski champion Diann Roffe is there. What an advantage to take lessons from her. In addition, of course, there are skilled and dedicated ski instructors in all the resorts. There is a neat promo for the ski instructors on top of the mountain. It reads, “friends don’t let friends teach - see a pro.” Sounds like good advice for me; my style appears to have regressed this season.

Roundtop is well-managed by Jim Garling, and by marketing and press director Chris Dudding. Roundtop is the first of four areas owned by Snow Time - the others in our region are Liberty and Whitetail. It is a good thing the resorts are owned by one company - they can help each other out and make it more efficient to run them, especially during the rough times experienced at the start of this season. I’m not certain all the local areas would survive if they had to do so on their own.

But the weekend we were there, they survived, thrived, and helped others to live. The two-day Spring Carnival was titled Ski 4 Life. Over $16,000 was raised to benefit the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Chris Dudding tells us over 40 competitors participated - some kept going all night. He said two racers tied for the most vertical feet. A skier and a snowboarder each raced down a total of 116,000 vertical feet in 24 hours. In addition to giving money to cure blood cancers, the winners received a 42-inch flat screen television and a ski pass for next season.

There were nearly 200 participants in other events - including the ever popular bikini race and pond skimming. Those competitors had to be cold! Even if the temperature hit the 40’s, that is no fun when the flesh hits the air, snow, or water! There were lots of events during the carnival, including a bumps competition, costume parade, obstacle course, U.S Army Giant Slalom Race, and a Snowmakers Race, where two-person teams go down a slalom course dragging a snowmaker’s hose which cannot touch the slalom gates.

Throughout the festival there were lots of loud bands, which kept the people tanked up, if they did not lose their hearing. There was also some excellent food, but Roundtop did not seem to mind if you brought your own food into the cafeteria. However, there did appear to be a good selection of healthy wraps and salads available for sale. I don’t know how the resort handled the delicate issue of liquor, if anyone snuck some in. Roundtop (and Whitetail) are in “dry” counties, and liquor is not supposed to be sold. Liberty is a different story, however, and there is a Tavern near the slopes and the ticket window. I personally do not think “dry” is a bad idea - it probably keeps people safer on the slopes and on the roads.

Roundtop will be open through some of this week (visit Roundtop’s web site for current operating conditions), with Saturday, March 26 being the last day of the season. There is plenty of soft snow cover, and there is still time for fun. I saw a lot of families and good friends enjoying themselves, taking photos, and relishing their togetherness on the snowy slopes. Personally, I wish it could last forever. But, it will come to an end soon. Then, it is time to plan for, and dream about, another season!

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About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

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Reader Comments

March 22, 2005
Connie that was great but c'mon... Ski Roundtop? Let's be real ...

1) Nice because Ramrod, etc are a little more steep than Liberty, runs are a little more fall-line and from the entry roadway it does give you a "oh that looks steep" feel but .....

2) Totally located in BF egypt (... PA)
3) Totally Cheesey lodge
4) Dry county (UGH!!!!!!!)
5) When I raced there I dislocated my arm and they told me it would be two hours before I could get treatment at the non-local hospital ... I basically con'd/begged a local doc to reduce it.
6) The Christan stuff they push is boring.
7) The toilets smell and there is lots of pee on the floor.

I guess it is alrite but actually I have never had an awesome day there....
Connie Lawn
March 23, 2005
Hi friend - Love you comments, as always. Wish we could have Western skiing in the East. But, I have had a terrific spring skiing here. Also, loved my Western experiences out West. Wherever I can play in the snow! Yours, Connie
March 23, 2005
... becasue you are so sweet lol actually I did have a good day on the other hand I got second place once so there ya go what a goof I am! But they still shoud do something about the pee ....
connie lawn
March 24, 2005
Hi sport - thanks again for your comments. I do obviously disagree. Roundtop (as well as the other local areas) are really neat. And, for the record, the cafeterias and lodges are clean, airy, and have better, healthier varieties of food. You can also bring your own. And, the ladies room was clean, with no "pea on the floor." I can't speak for the mens room!
How are the ski conditions out West now? Yours, Connie
Roundtop Guy
March 26, 2005
Hi Crush,
I am sorry that your experience at Roundtop was not up to your standards. We try hard to please our guests. Our survey scores for overall experience and staff friendliness are both 46 out of 50 - so we must be doing something right!

We've got the biggest Super Pipe in the East, the best Race Department in the state and according to the National Ski Area Association the best programs for "Introducing New Participants" and for "Converting New Participants to Core Participants" in the country(and yes, we competed against and beat the big boys out west). We do the best we can with what nature gives us - and we will take your comments as constructive criticism to make the experience even better.

Have a great day!
Josh P.
March 28, 2005
While Roundtop may not be the biggest mountain, its close to home and a great place for terrain parks. I've been to Colorado and other big resorts and while the vertical and powder don't compare, they still have some nice runs. Ramrod and Gunbarrel might be short, but they do give people a challenge. I don't see a whole ton of people going down gunbarrel ( at least successfully ) so it does give a challenge. Blue Knob does provide the best powder and glade runs, but roundtop has the best terrain park in the area. Plus I can go Skiing only 40 minutes away as supposed to hours!

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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