Timberline General Manager discusses “Vision” for the Mountain 60
Author thumbnail By John Sherwood, DCSki Columnist

In an April 22, 2005 interview with DCSki Columnist John Sherwood, Timberline General Manager Tom Blanzy outlined changes that are to take place at Timberline during the next 1-3 years.

DCSki: What improvements does Timberline intend to make for the mountain for the 2005-2006 winter season?

Blanzy: We intend to increase snowmaking by adding more guns and a new vertical turbine pump. Our target is to create a system that can transform 6,500-7,000 gallons of water per minute into snow. We know that our business is ultimately about snow, so we know we need to increase snowmaking capacity on almost a yearly basis. For the 2003-2004 season, the system could only handle 3,200 gallons a minute; last year, we raised that number to 4,000 and for next season, we finally hope to hit the 6,500-gpm mark.

DCSki: Won’t the new Winterhaven trail absorb most of this new capacity?

Blanzy: The new trail will be a 6,000-foot long trail with a slight western exposure, so of course it will demand snow, but we are cutting it narrow to conserve snow. It will be more like the Winterset trail than White Lightning.

DCSki: When do you hope to complete the new trail and how difficult will it be?

Blanzy: We intend to have it up and running by next season. It will be a blue trail with a grade that never exceeds 25 percent. This will take some pressure off of the resort’s other signature blue trails such as Dew Drop and Almost Heaven.

DCSki: What other trail improvements does Timberline have on tap for the 05-06 season?

Blanzy: We want to widen White Lightning by cutting the trees down between White Lightning and Silver Streak. This will create a wider, European-style slope for upper level skiers. It will also make for an excellent race course.

DCSki: A lot of experts complained about Off The Wall last season. Mounds of snow created by the snow guns were never groomed, making the trail awkward to ski, even for experts. Will Timberline groom this trail once next season and allow moguls to form more naturally?

Blanzy: That’s a great suggestion John. I’ve received complaints from others about the situation and so I will heed this advice groom the trail at least once per season. Also, we want to eliminate the awkward merge with Salamander by extending Off The Wall and creating a proper run-out. The new run-out for Off The Wall will join Salamander further down the mountain. We hope to complete this work by the beginning of next season.

DCSki: With all the new snowmaking and trail expansion, Timberline may need more lift capacity to handle increased crowds. Are there any plans on the books for new lifts?

Blanzy: Ultimately, we’d like to install a high-speed detachable quad where the current Thunderdraft resides, and re-align Thunderdraft to service the west side of the mountain. A new mid-station would be serviced by the Silver Queen, and the two other lifts would be express chairs to the summit. Of course, a high-speed detachable lift costs a lot of money, which is difficult for us because we do not have a corporate backer such as Intrawest. However, we are looking into tax increment financing and other avenues to finance improvements. Our business generates more taxes for Tucker County than any other business in the county, so hopefully the local government authorities will see the obvious revenue advantages of helping us to grow the business.

DCSki: What about the lodge and parking?

Blanzy: Everything must grow step by step. You can’t bring hordes of skiers to the mountain and not have a place for them to park their cars or enjoy lunch, so yes, those amenities must expand to meet any increased skier numbers generated by a new lift.

DCSki: Many skiers on the DCSki Message Forums expressed dismay over the All Terrain Vehicle races [held at Timberline]. Some argue that those races kick up rocks and erode trails. Will they still be held this year?

Blanzy: We only intend to hold two races this summer. John, you should understand that we monitor the course very, very closely. We tell the race committee where they can create a course and if we spot any erosion, the committee must pay for reclamation and erosion control.

DCSki: The Timberline road is in bad shape. The snowplows and frost heaves have created a lot of potholes. Does the county intend to repair the road?

Blanzy: Yes, this summer. Timberline also plans to patch its short stretch of the access road as well. Finally, we greatly appreciate the efforts of volunteers to pick up trash along the road and on the mountain trails. It’s nice to see how many homeowners take time out of their busy schedules to help keep the place looking pristine.

DCSki: Thank for sharing your plans and vision for Timberline with DCSki. We wish you success in the future.

Blanzy: My pleasure. It’s been nice talking to you.

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About John Sherwood

John Sherwood is a columnist for DCSki. When he's not hiking, biking, or skiing, he works as an author of books on military history.

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Reader Comments

April 23, 2005
John, that was an informative interview. I'm not sure if removing the trees between White Lightning and Silverstreak is the smartest use of capital. When Silverstreak is open, it is generally very bumpy. The trees help to isolate it from White Lightning - which helps to prevent people who shouldn't ski the slope from skiing the slope.

If Timberline is removing the trees because Snowshoe widen their slopes several years ago, Timberline doesn't understand why Snowshoe cut trees. If I remember correctly, Snowshoe widened their slopes to make several trails safer at mergings and to ease congestion. Timberline doesn't face that problem, and I think the money would be spent more effectively in snowmaking or lift improvements.
John Sherwood
April 23, 2005
I think their intention is to groom the whole slope: WL and SS.
April 23, 2005
Why would you cut down the trees between SS & WL? SS is one of my favorite trails on the mountain. It's narrow, usually bumped up, and the snow drifts into very nicely. Hey T-line save some $ and don't ruin the trail.

"A lot of experts complained about Off The Wall" Give me a break. OTW is the best snowmaking trail on the mountain. Maybe some of these "experts" have over estimated their ability.

I'm glad to hear they've increased their snowmaking. I hope they crank it up early this year.
John Sherwood
April 24, 2005
Tom indicated that racing is a major reason. Right now, Timberline must close off an entire trail whenever it hosts a race, which is frequent. If WL is turned into a bigger slope, the resort could presumably hold races on it and also allow skiers to continue using the trail.
April 24, 2005
cutting the trees down between White Lightning and Silver Streak.


Silver Streak is maybe the best trail on the mountain. Narrow and often bumped up. A classic New England-style trail.

If WL is turned into a bigger slope, the resort could presumably hold races on it and also allow skiers to continue using the trail.

I don't follow that logic. If there is a race on White Lightning which closes the trail, just ski Silver Streak. Or if a race closes Thunderdraft, just ski Upper Thunderdraft or Upper Thunderstruck to the trees on either side.

This is not progress, this is regression. ???????
April 24, 2005
kim w
April 25, 2005
As a former "race parent" who organized and worked may races at both CV and t-line, I can tell you of the advantages and disadvantages of both mountains for racing. First of all is the safety issue for racers. White lightening has the best fall line for racing south of New England. However, it is too narrow to safely set a GS course without fencing the trail. What generally happens then is if w-lightening is used for a GS, the turns must be set in such a way to keep speed in check off the headwall, further enhancing the probability of a racer crashing, or ending up in the trees. I've see it happen too often. It can handle slalom in it's present width, but most of the races held need to run both GS and slalom. Some of these racers are cranking speeds of 40 mph in a wide open GS and the liability for an incorrectly set course is too great.
The bottom line of why host races is the money that a major USSA or club race brings into a ski area. Not only lift tickets for racers, but lift tickets for mom, dad, sis, and little brother as well as food concessions, increased demand for lodging, and other increases in demand for business. We would have 140 to 180 racers registered for the typical USSA race when my son was racing. Do the math.
As for the increased snowmaking...I know that this has been a goal of t-line for years. If they get their capacity, it would double what they could have open, early, hence giving those who want more terrain their wish and mine. Since silver streak is not a snowmaking trail, it has to rely on natural and "blow over" from the snowmaking on lightening anyway.
April 25, 2005
This was a pretty informative interview; however, I believe Tim's answers regarding the ATV racing are a misrepresentation of facts. Fact is Timberline only had 2 ATV races last year - and none the year before. They are having 2 races again this year - hardly limiting. Also, the races last year completely destroyed most of the sweet bike trails on the mountain - including the famous "crash and Burn" downhill. The resort made no attempt to control the routing of the race course and the promoter made no repairs to the ruts, erosion, and general destruction caused by the race.

As for the ski improvements - I have to agree about leaving Silver Streak as is. I finally progressed this season to where I could comfortable ski the Streak top-to-bottom. It truly is a great trail, one that I look forward to running everytime I ski Tline. On a powder day, snow easily drifts up over my knees making an almost "western" feel to the slope. I don't really care about the occasional trail closures for races - there are a lot of better trails to hit at Tline than WL or Lower T-Stuck.
John Sherwood
April 25, 2005
ThanksKim for clarifying the racing issues with respect to WL. I have mixed emotions about the race program at Timberline. On the one hand, it demands a lot of terrain, which others can't use during races. On the other hand, it brings people to the mountain and is a great way for kids to improve their skiing. Davis & Elkins College's program also depends on having good courses nearby, so I think we probably need to keep racing going at T-line and improve the GS course even if that means losing Silver Streak as an expert run. Perhaps in the future, T-line can install snowmaking on The Drop as a quid pro quo.
April 25, 2005
IIRC, the line of trees separating Upper Silver Streak is 20 feet wide max. (Someone correct my guesstimate if it is off.) How much difference would an additional 20 feet of width make for a GS course? If the trees are cut down, wouldn't you still need netting to protect the racers since the chairlift poles are only a few more feet beyond the edge of Silver Streak? Convential lift post padding would not offer much protection if a racer skiing at 40 mph lost control and slid into the lift post.

Seems like netting at the side of the trail is the best safety option for racers, short of removing every single tree and lift post on the mountain.
kim w
April 25, 2005
Good question regarding the amount of trees removed and what if any difference it makes, JohnL. If you remember back in the 2000 Olympics a gate was moved several inches after the training runs. That caused Herman Meir's spectacular crash as well as the crashes of several other olympians. At speed, inches mean differences in feet. If you ever get a chance, you need to boot up and go with t-lines race director as he sets a GS course on lightening. You will understand how inches make a difference in how much room is needed to negotiate a GS turn safely. Everything comes into play when setting a safe course, be it for children or adults. The percentage or degree of slope, the fall line, snow conditions, visability, etc... When you look at the upper or headwall section of lightening, you will notice that there is a slight dog-leg and the trail expands below that. With the trees removed, the slope becomes much wider with the potential for a much safer end of race or a safer slope for the general public. As for silver streak, the management will need to make snow on it which is an improvement. The possibility exists that they may let it bump up under the chair making it a much better bump run than it currently is. What's to lose?
John Sherwood
April 25, 2005

If you have not read this book, put it on your list:

Right On The Edge of Crazy : On Tour with the U.S. Downhill Ski Team (Vintage Departures)
by Mike Wilson

It talks a lot about how course construction can really alter the dynamics of a race. It's the best book I've read on ski racing and what it takes to compete on the World Cup circuit as a downhill racer.
April 25, 2005
If only a few inches are needed, then only cut down a couple of trees. I'm sorry Kim, but you haven't presented a convincing argument that cutting down 10-20 feet of trees would make a difference. A racer who crashed still risks sliding into fixed obstacles (chairlift poles) and into other skiers (on Silver Streak.) The 10-20 feet buys extra safety margin, but is it sufficient to make the trail safe for racers without installing any netting? There have been plenty of Timberline customers who've posted on this feedback section that cutting down the trees would diminish their skiing experience at Timberline. We pay money into Timberline's coffers, also.

For a recreational skier skiing at recreational speeds, White Lightning in it's current state is about as safe a trail design as you can get. It is wide and cut straight down the hill. The slight bend at the very top of the Headwall should be a slower skiing zone anyway since there is cross traffic above and you are entering a slight drop off.

The Hermain Maier example is not a good one. IIRC, the reason that set of gates was treacherous was because a blind turn was set. There is no terrain drop on White Lightning which even remotely resembles that. Also, many racers were skiing lines that worked in practice (before the gate was shifted); unfortunately, the lines didn't work on the shifted gates. Finally, it wasn't extra trail room that saved the crashed racers, it was safety netting.

Cut down a tree or two and install safety netting for racers. That would make the course safer and preserve the skiing experience for others.
April 25, 2005
I don't see how widening WL would allow them to hold a race and allow skiers on the same slope at the same time. As it is now, they close SS and WL whenever there is a race on WL. If they can't keep SS open to the public with a 20 ft barrier of trees separating them from WL, how will they keep it open without that barrier? I guess they will just string up fencing the whole way down one side of the course? That doesn't seem any safer to me. If its all groomed, less experienced and possibly out of control skiers will be on the same slope as the racers. Those same skiers are much less likely to head down SS due to it being much more narrow and bumped up. Even if they do go down SS the barrier protecting the racers from the newbies is much more substantial. Timberline must have a thing for cutting down trees.. Lower Thunder used to be two trails with trees down the middle, Upper Dew Drop had trees planted and then cut a few years later, Cherry Bowl is a tree cutting mess, even the panty tree got chopped because it was in "bad taste". Its a ridiculous idea and will ruin a great trail in Silver Steak.
Timberline customer / homeowner
April 25, 2005
Timberline build a real terrain park!!! Take some time and invest in a real terrain park-with rails, boxes, and music. Terrain parks are where it's at for the kids. Every resort has something for the kids to play on as soon as the mountain opens-that is, every resort except for timberline. All my kids talked about all winter were jumps and rails. As customer's we were dissapointed not to see any jumps or rails until february at Timberline!
April 26, 2005
Hah... pure snake oil. They had 2 races last year and DESTROYED their prime mountain biking terrain.

You have great bike shop employees who actually ride the mountain (something I guarentee not even the relatives of the owner ride). Please start listening to them before you obliterate everything you have.

FYI... Last year's races desroyed the 24 Hours of Canaan epic downhill off the top, the lower downhill from the mid-station, and various other trails running from OTW down. I dare you to do it again... and we'll see how your neighbors the Nature Conservancy and the EPA like it, as well as DCSki readers everywhere.

If you're going to promote mountain biking as a summer activity, I feel you need to step it up. Designate bike-only trails (hikers always welcome, if they yield). Horses DESTROY every trail they set foot on near the base of the mountain... this is prime beginner singletrack area.

Re-sign the trails... You've actually developed over Big Chainring with a new access road. Sign it onto the road and back off again so losing the trail is much harder. Nothing ticks me off more than losing your trail system that I used to know by heart. And sign all the new trails and map them. Not a hard job.

Build northshore features... seesaws, drops, skinnys. The trails are technical, but sometimes I want more. You have a sweet rock drop right between the bunny slope and the bunny lift. Clear it out, mark it, and open it up.

Actually clear the trails in the deep grass... it's very hard to follow a trail underneath a lift when you're in chest-high grass... heaven forbid a rattler were to strike a rider. Lawsuit??

In general, just do a better job of notifying the public that an awesome trail system exists.
April 29, 2005
Ok make a longer runout for OTW, but kindly do not make it into another typical mogul trail. why not leave that to 'Drop'. The sculpting on OTW is unique. Lets keep doing that

I finally saw someone do an outstanding run on OTW. It was closing weekend. Amazing run .

who was that masked man?
Timberline Employee
April 30, 2005
Hey John, I'm a Canaan Valley resident and I wish to remain anonymous. I read this web site quite often and for the most part and usually it is a great forum and there are some good points made here; but lately it just sounds like a bunch of whining! As far as credibility goes I've been skiing and snowboarding for ten years now-the last five years I've been able to get in 80-100 days a season all over the country, but mostly at timberline. I know the mountain extremely well and my friends and I all agree that Off the Wall was perfect this past season. FInally a real expert slope!!!

Your statement to the Blanzanator, " A lot of experts complained about Off the Wall" really pisses me off; Tom blanzy has never even skiied off the wall so he is going to take your word for it -unfortunately. I know the term expert is a relative term, but give me a $@%ing break. I consider myself both an expert skier and snowboarder and I enjoyed and easily skied and snowboarded off the wall all season long-as did all my friends and employees of the mountain; we mostly ski and snowboard on the weekdays not on the weekends when the mountain is packed with boyscouts and whining weekend warriors. That might be why you haven't seen anybody skiing it with authority. All the locals here loved it-finally some semi challenging terrain that you can practice for the steeps out west, and actually get a workout on the legs. If it was to difficult for you and your "expert" friends then you should have just skiied something else or taken off you pink panties and skied off the wall until you figured it out. I can just picture you now John- skiing down a mountain like Jackson Hole and whining to management to take a groomer up on Corbet's Coulouir because it is to difficult. Thanks a lot John - you and your whining friends just ruined a good thing for a lot of real "expert" skiers.
John Sherwood
April 30, 2005
Timberline Employee:

If you feel so strongly about the subject, I suggest that you speak to Tom personally.

As for me, I've talked to many, many people (over 50) about OTW and the consensus is that the trail should be groomed once per season--just after the snow is made. Unlike Corbet's, OTW relies on snowmaking for snow and no resort that I know of makes huge artificial snow mounds and then fails to groom them at least once. What skiers--including many expert locals such as the Chase kids--want is natural moguls and not artificial whales. If groomed once, moguls will form naturally on OTW and get bigger and better with time and natural snow.

For artificial kickers, Timberline ought to create a better terrain park. OTW is not a terrain park but a ski trail. Do you get my drift?
May 1, 2005
Hmm... OTW is not out west. OTW is bulletproof ice from opening till spring. You know, all the stuff I've ridden at western areas, in and out of bounds, has never been remotely similar to OTW.. because you know, whale mounds are just everywhere in wide open, powder-filled bowls.

The Drop during the first two weekends of March was the best riding I've ever had. Deep snow... hitting it with Ski Patrol right after they officially dropped the signs. Very nice.

Cherry Bowl was the closest thing to out-west glade skiing and what did the resort do? They destroyed it. It will never regain its original grandeur. Sure it could be improved... sure it could be improved and made fun... but that'll never happen. And about those long seasons... consider the fact you wasted 150 hours more riding the lifts at Timberline each season that could've been spent descending Snowshoe's Western Territory.

Oh, and just for a nice finish to that logical appeal... let's throw a little authoriative appeal in... because my thoughts don't count having spent 16 years on the snow.
Timberline Employee
May 1, 2005
Hey I skied Off the Wall with Cory and Morgan atleast a dozen days this season and they were rippin it up and smiling just like everyone else who could ski it, and could actually make turns in the bumps. I never heard them whining just hooting and having a good time. John I'm sorry to seem so agro, but all season long we enjoyed off the wall for how much fun it really was-and depsite what you say, that was the consensus from employess and real expert skiers and aspiring expert skiers. I have friends that have only been skiing for two seasons that could make consistent turns down that slope! I know girls in the ski school department who just learned to ride this year that were able to make it down-it was a challenge but they enjoyed it; And that is the point - it was nice to have something wild and challenging to play on- something different, something to push your abiity on-something different than just another cruiser like lightning or bump run like the drop.

Of course some days it will be to solid or crusty to enjoy, but on powder days, good snow conditions, and all of spring season(even after the mountain was closed) it was an excellent treat; I'd say turn for turn it was the best run in the MidAtlantic. We all laughed at you and your 50 friend's comments about the slope being "death trap kickers" as we rode up the lift for another run down our favorite slope on the mountain-OTW. We laughed and said "well I guess that is more space for us" , but now I guess you all are laughing and we will be bummed next season because OTW will be just another bump run.

Canaanboy, your no expert, and your comment cary vary little validity with me or anyone at timberline; infact most people laugh when your name is mentioned. Your friend jumps off the pump house and gets in trouble - then you take credit for it on the internet and slam ski patrol for doing there job. Then by coincidence the director of ski patrol cathces a chair with your Dad, and your Dad grounds you from the internet for a couple weeks. We've never met but lot's of employees have pointed you out to me after that little episode with ski patrol a couple season ago. If you are one of the 50 people that John is talking about than I wouldn't be surprised. When I saw you riding your legs were stiff and you kicked your back foot around to make turns; Of course you are going to have trouble riding off the wall.

As for talking to Blanzy: Blanzy doesn't talk to employees. I don't know if he feels like they are underneath him or there ideas are worthless, but he doesn't communicate with employees at all. Infact from what I've seen and the stories I've heard he makes more of an effort to avoid them. I have to say that I am impressed that you were able to corner him for an interview-although I'm sure it's a little easier when you are media affiliated and righting an article for a site that is consistently criticizing him and he has to read a new "bashing" everytime he looks at the site.

I do agree with you John. They should put more emphasis on lots of other skiing related things inculding a Terrain Park, and everyone at the mountain thinks so to. Im sure the guy that is in charge of the half-ass timberline terrain park could build a great park if he had the means, but the management makes terrain parks the last priority for some backasswards reason. But thanks to you and other whiners apparently they are going to make it a priority to turn a crazy, fun, challenging trail(OTW) into another intermediate bump run.
May 1, 2005
I have no trouble riding OTW... I just find it unpleasant. If I still skied I'd probably enjoy it much more. I really wish I could share with all of you the joy of riding OTW in over a foot-and-a-half of fresh snow the season before the snowguns were installed. Each carve was pure euphoria. Nothing has ever contested it... nothing.

As for the park, the manager is a great and knowledgeable guy, he does the best he can do with the way the rest of the management regards him. Sure, sometimes the hits are small (and sometimes kids land 93 feet past the landing) and I'm sure the rails could be bigger... but the resort won't let them. Seems they're a little worried about liability... not cleaning out glades, using "speed bumps" on OTW, etc.

Oh, and the next time you decide to attack me ad hominem and avoid the entire gist of my comments, you've demoted yourself to one of those gapers in the park.
John Sherwood
May 2, 2005
"I have no trouble riding OTW... I just find it unpleasant."

You nailed it Canaanman. That's what I've been trying to say all along.
May 2, 2005
I do not find riding OTW unpleasatn at all. OTW is the best expert trail in the area. It provides everything an expert could want in a trail; jumps, bumps, steeps, challenge, and consequences. If you don't ejoy OTW don't go there. Timberline provides many less challenging trails. Grooming OTW would make it just like the rest of the trails. The mid-atlantic does not need another groomed "expert" trail.
Widening white lightening would be a great idea. They probably would not groom under the lift leaving a row of bumps to ski. The woods to the right of Silver Streak would also collect alot of blow-over snow making them more skiable.
Canaanman, You lost any respect from me when you lied about jumping off the pumphouse roof last year to make yourself look cool.
May 2, 2005
Hmm... like I have any.

I'm undecided about White Lightning. While it would be really cool to drop huge carves under on a steep face, it's also fun to ride Silver Streak because it's so tight and narrow. I can't decide... however, there's doubt in my mind they'd barracade off Silver Streak and open it during races. There's already a barrier there, its called trees, and they still close the trail to host a race on WL.

When the mgnt says they'd groom Off-The-Wall, I'm assuming they'd blow the whales on it, then groom it out and make it a nice base for huuuuge moguls to build on. OTW to me is like a longer Lower Shay's... and the trail could infact be steepened by blowing more snow at the top of the steepest section on it and shaping it. What would be a neat effect would be to groom half of the upper part over the increasing-in-height whales so you'd get some nice rollers to launch or huge bumps to ski on the other half.

They groom Lower Shay's and it still gets Volkswagen-sized bumps on it... and they groom it a few times each season. If T-line just blew a massive amount of snow on the trail then groomed it once... imagine what the moguls would look like come spring.
dc ski reader
May 2, 2005
canaanman, i don't have to imagine what it would look like---it would look like the drop usually does when they blow snow on it, then groom it, and then let the bumps form. i can't blame you if you forgot because timberline didn't even blow snow on the drop last year. if you want the drop then ski the drop and leave off the wall to the big girls and boys.

remind me again-why they are adding trails when they can't open what they already have(the drop).

anyway the reason i liked off the wall, and the reason i hope they don't groom it, is that it offers different terrain-terrain that is challenging enough to keep the gapers away and terrain that challenges me. not just another drop. off the wall was the only slope in the south I skied last year where i actually had to think twice about some lines. in my opinion it was the an awesome trail last season and I have a bunch of peeps i ski with that thought so to. i hope they don't change it.

and canaanman, sounds like your the gaper--taking props for something you didn't do.
May 3, 2005
I'm going to have to pitch my two cents in as well about both things. I personally REALLY liked OTW the way it was this season as well. MY 9-year-old and I had a blast shredding it up! It was set as a truly expert level trail and I think it should stay the same. Basically, if you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. There are several other nice groomers to cruise on the mountain if OTW is too much to handle. SS is one more trail that is a lot more fun in its present form/character. If it is cleared, this is one more reason to no longer ski T-Line. White Lightning is already a VERY wide trail. Man, if you can't cut turns on that at speed, what are you doing there? I've seen race-course setups much narrower than that both here on the east-coast as well as out west.
May 3, 2005
dc ski reader, the reason they're adding a trail is $350,000 per 1/4 acre. They're doing it for them, not you/us.

I have said before, save the whales, if Tline needs a mogul run, which they really do, lets put some permanent snowsticks up on the drop and make it the bump run it's supposed to be.

It's not fair to assume that because someone doesn't like OTW in it's current configuration that he or she isn't capable enough to ski it, some like peach, some like vanilla. I like whale blubber.

Widening white lightning, please don't, imo you'll ruin white lightning as well as silver streak.
May 6, 2005
This was my first year skiing t-line. I had been skiing CV all season and finally I got to T-line. I loved Gravity at CV and saw the OTW was similar. OTW was much more challenging that Gravity was. I loved it. Like Dc ski reader said, I had to think twice about some of the lines i was going to take. Gave the legs a good workout, and challenged me a bit. I might agree with blowing huge whales on OTW and the Grooming them a little bit, but heaven forbid they groom the whole trail flat like 99% of the other trails in the state are. OTW is what draws some skiers to T-line.

While im in the mood to talk a bit, lets talk about the lifts at T-line.
SLOW...SLOW...SLOW...Im not sure which lift is which, (only skied there once or twice this year) but the lower lift that goes all the way to the top is always so crowded and slow. The upper lift that just goes 90% of the way or whatever always was shut down, or having problems. There was a short line for it though. A high speed quad would really bump the skiing time up and the riding time down. I went to CV 20 times this year and Tline maybe twice. I liked Tline much better. more challenging and steeper. IF they had a high speed quad, they would influence tons of ppl to come ski there instead of CV and maybe take some skiiers from Snowshoe.

As for widening WL, I dont know much about that, but i thought it and SS were both great trails as they are now. We even skied the trees between them a bit. They were even fun to ski.
DCSki Reader
May 6, 2005
I can't believe I'm writing on a ski site in may, or for that matter reading one; afterall tis the season for fishing and biking now-just goes with the skiing addiction I guess.

Hey john great interview. I don't really like what was discussed(except for the increased snowblowing) but atleast you where able to talk to the manager-Blanzy. Everytime I tried to find him to talk to him he wasn't around-one of the ladies in the office told me he actually didn't work on saturdays. I thought that was kind of weird-a general manager who doesn't work on the busiest day of the week??? Oh well, I guess that's timberline.

And as bad as they need a new lift I'll believe it when I see it. I've been skiing at timberline for years now. Just like everyone I see the potential and the fact that it hasn't been taken advantage of for, but I can't do much about that. It's up to managment to get their act together. I just don't see it happening with the current management. They just don't have a passion for skiing like we do, and I don't think they know what we are seeing at other mountains-customer service, amenintiess, etc.

I can't say that I think these changes discussed it the interview are the direction i'd like to see the mountain going. I like sliver streak, I though Off the wall last season was the best it has ever been, those motorcross races wrecked the biking trails last season, and I dread the idea of a slope that winds through a rich neighborhood and becomes a priority for snowblowing instead of the existing trails. I think someone nailed it earlier-if they couldn't blow the drop this year I hate to think what is going to happen when they have to blow another trail- a real estate run which will surely be a priority.

I'd like to see-more trails cut on the off the wall side of the mountain(maybe some glades), all the tress cleared in between dew drop and lightning(trails that take advantage of snow gun blow over), a better terrain park opened at the begggining of the year(that one is for my kids-my daughter loves to jump), and bigger whales on off the wall! Oh yeah why we are at it how about opening the mountain around thanksgiving-with the weather up in the valley I know they could pull that off, and I'd be there skiing and not at snowshoe-for sure!!!

Well that's my two cents and now I'm going biking.
May 9, 2005
Well I was just up this past weekend and Timberline Rd has been completely paved from Route 32 all the way to TLine!!!! Now, this didn't cost Tline a dime, but atleast something is getting done!!!!
May 9, 2005
That was the department of highways that got something done; Timberline had nothing to do with it. I'm certainly glad it was done though; That was the worst condition I've ever seen that rode!!! I was up this past weekend too and it looked like the DOH fixed a bunch of the roads up there. If you drive up to Timberline you'll notice the repairs stop as soon as you get to the timberline parking lot.
May 10, 2005
I was up there too!Nice road...nice ribs at the T-line bar & grill.Fun to walk on the left over snow.29 degrees sun morn with frost!!
Ski Bums wife
May 13, 2005
Ok .. so, my husband and our friends are total ski bums/experts! They love the wall. Me ?? Well .. I'm an intermediate skier and when I first saw the wall I about died .. but .. I tried it and now I LOVE IT!! I don't go down the HUGE "bumps" .. I go down the side and have a ton of fun! This way, I can stay with the group - and we can all enjoy the wall - just different sections of it! My vote - leave the wall as is - no grooming!! And that's coming from a "non-expert"!!
Rob Miller
May 13, 2005
I tell you what, I'd like to show the people complaining how to properly ski the trail! If they don't like it stay off of it! Who can I call to say how AWESOME the trail is, as is?

Should I start a save the WALL campain?

timberline employee
May 15, 2005
Well I thought I would check back after I made a few comments and see if anyone else liked off the wall as it was last season-wild, crazy, and fun! And yep seems like there are quite a few folks who enjoyed off the wall as it is. According to these comments foks of all skiing levels. It's not 50 comments John, but I'd say about a dozen comments after the season is over on a ski web site(which probably gets most use during ski season and least during nonski season) is equivalent to or better than fifty during the season. And I'm just counting the comments here and not the fifty or sixty people I know in the valley who loved off the wall last season. I support the "save the wall campaign".
May 15, 2005
May 18, 2005
May 19, 2005
May 27, 2005
In the configuration last season the closest trai that I could compar OTW to was extrovert at BK. However its not as steep and the whales are totally excessive. I dislike the fact that so many of the whales have an actual up hill section to them. Its jsut a little too much. I did like skiing lines on both sides of the whales however actually going over the whales (usualyl the funt hing to do) was nuts IMO. And the whales the selves were pure ice and it was difficult err... impossible to get an edge on any of it. And my skis fishers and volkls are not exactly wet noodles. IMO the wales are good but they need to be re-tooled a bit to alow for a more direct line down the mountain.
May 30, 2005
"DCSki: A lot of experts complained about Off The Wall last season. Mounds of snow created by the snow guns were never groomed, making the trail awkward to ski, even for experts. Will Timberline groom this trail once next season and allow moguls to form more naturally?"

This statement and question contains what is really the issue or perceived problem with OTW.

True experts can ski darn near any run in any condition presented. They do not "complain" about a run or think of it as being "awkward to ski". They enjoy the challenge the mountain presents itself on any given day and do not want or expect every trail to be a homogenized groomed or bump run.

There are not many trails that I know of on the East Coast that true experts, PSIA upper level 8's and above, would or could not ski on any given day. Even advnced level skiers, strong 7's and 8's, are more than capable of handling the typical conditions presented on OTW. It appears to me that these so-called "experts" that are having trouble negotiating the obstacles on OTW are really intermediates or low level 7's and below.

OTW is not the only run in the Mid-Atlantic that has huge whales or rollers. The entire mountain of Wolf Laurel, NC is covered with them including green areas. Also, Ski Roundtop's Gunbarrel, arguably one of the most challenging runs on the East Coast, obtains much of its steepness at the top due to these huge snowmaking mounds. Leave OTW alone and those who can't handle it should ski those homogenized groomers and bump runs until they become true experts.
baggage claim
June 6, 2005
timberline should not spend money on new trails they should spend some money on their lifts. Between them and canaan they need a lot of work. WV does not have a state lift inspection, they use insurance inspectors that are looking at operations not the mechanics of the lifts. One day at a race I saw a person from a skilift company walking up the mountain for a race. I will not say why. or at what area. Also timberline should cut any tree they need to and not worry about the tree huggers. Too many in canaan. They should also run more motor bike races. Brings in good money for the county.
June 9, 2005
I don't want to see those trees cut because i don't want to see silver streak disappear. I ain't a tree hugger, i eat salamander stew for lunch.
June 14, 2005
Adding a new quad lift has to be the number one priority or this place will wither away....
June 27, 2005
Fred if your'e out there in the ether I see it appears there are several more of us who hope TL will continue the moguls-on-steroids look indefinitely on OTW.

If I can just survive this cursed heat a few more months......
June 28, 2005
Amen, Brother !
August 30, 2005
You said it yourself my boy..."no resort that I know of makes huge artificial snow mounds and then fails to groom them..." You are certainly right about that! If you can't handle it, DON'T SKI IT! AND FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T WHINE ABOUT IT! TAKE A LESSON.
August 30, 2005
Hey Canaanboy! In case you ever want to get your facts straight, Cherry Bowl was "ruined" by mother nature's ice storm. Why don't you get back in there with a chainsaw and help out the folks that make runs like 'the boundary' and 'spinal tap' possible. And please, please do NOT compare Timberline to Snowshoe. It is an INSULT. I'm with Timberline Employee, leave OTW (OTW is OTH!), and kindly go someplace else instead of trying to bring an expert mountain (as expert as 1000' can be) to your level. Someday when you are older and a better rider, you'll look at what you wrote and regret it.
I'll add to whoever mentioned the ribs at Timbers Pub. The food has been excellent with the new chef, and she's there to stay. A very pleasant change.
Thank you, John, for the opportunity to comment.
Nora (DOLA) T-Line
August 31, 2005
As a native of the area, I have watched both ski areas grow. T-Line is by far moving in the right direction, we need the expert slopes!!! I for one skiied OTW last year, and it was great, and also challenging,which is what skiing is about (getting better right??)., keep the trees right where they are, for those of us that are expert skiiers, this too is a challenge, how boring to have everything wide opened and perfectly groomed.
I agree w/snowdog, if you cannot handle it, don't ski it, and take a lesson from some of the best ski teachers at T-Line ski school
August 31, 2005
I love silver streak just the way it is. I do find it a challenge. You open it up and it will be boy scout heaven like most of the slopes. I for one hate looking over my shoulder and wondering which one is going to plough me over.
As for OTW, I skiied it last year. First trip down was not pretty but, with each attempt my confidence level rose.We need this challenge at T-line.I do think they need to make snow on the drop and groom that slope.
T-Line 69er
September 1, 2005
OTW - Leave the whales. If you can't ski the whales, you're not an "expert", you're a POSER, stay on Salamander. Trees and Silver Streak - Leave the trees. Besides OTW, the streak is the best trail at T-Line. It fills up nicely with the fluffy stuff on "pow, pow" days. No trees, no "pow, pow" stash. They are doing this again, why? To host more races and attract Europeans????? News flash, those races are a major inconvenience and bring in minimal $. As for Europeans, not sure what to say. New Trail - It does not surprise me that they graded it uphill. These are the same people who brought you the boiled hamburger!!!! Ever had one of those babies? Best to get one early, right after they take the foil off. There is this green slime on the top which adds to their flavor. Yummy. Detachable Quad - No, no, no, no. This would just mean more DCSki posers, I mean "experts", on the hill at one time. Trust me, these people are dangerous enough just standing in the lift line. Terrain Park - Yes. T-Line needs one and needs it open day 1 or shortly thereafter. The employees have been telling Tom this for years but he does not listen to people "in the know", he listens to DCSki posers who ski at T-Line one weekend a year.
DCSki Reader
September 15, 2005
Seems like some of the locals don't agree with the managers visions.

I agree ...

T-Line 69er
September 20, 2005
The thing that separates T-Line from the "glamour" resorts (aka Snowshoe, 7 Springs, Wisp) is not their boiled hamburgers, rather it is the difficulty of the terrain. The boiled hamburgers separate T-Line from those resorts but not in a positive way. These proposed changes take away the difficulty. If T-Line wants to enhance the quality of skiers' visits, here are my suggestions: Be committed to snowmaking, this means blowing on the Drop, even if it means not starting until the end of February. Drag the White Lightning lines through the trees early in the season and blow a small base onto Upper Thunder Draft (Hollywood Blvd.). It holds snow well and will keep the "experts" occupied and keep them off OTW. (I have seen more beginners skiing that trail than any other, I suspect that these clueless wonders actually think they are impressing people riding the lift). Besides that, when the "experts" yard sale on the Draft, it is closer for Ski Patrol to drag the carcasses off. Thin out the entire bottom half of the mountain for Glade skiing, most of it already is. This area is small in acreage and with all the trails they blow on the bottom half of the mountain, much of the overblow goes into the trees anyhow, may as well use that lovely white stuff. It would not take much work to clear stumps and underbrush from every treed area from Lower Dew Drop to Easy Does It. The goal really should be boundary to boundary skiing and riding. Last and most important suggestion, pay those Ski Patrollers more!!!! Those guys and gals are the best in the East.
T-Line 69er
September 20, 2005
Not sure what this guy is talking about (i.e., hitting the Drop with Ski Patrol after we dropped the ropes)?!?!? He is and has been persona non grata since his ridiculous expose on this website. Although tolerated, I know of no patroller who would ski or ride with this goofball. Just wanted to set the record straight.
dc ski reader
September 20, 2005
hey 69'er, sounds like you have a little inside scoop- what is up with the t-line terrain park situation? do they have any intention of building a terrain park? do they have anybody who actually knows what they are doing? why don't they build a terrain park-with some sick stuff and some tunes like every other resort? what is up???
T-Line 69er
September 23, 2005
I really don't have any inside info. about the future of the terrain park. However, to answer your other questions, they do have some very knowledgeable people, relative to park design and park maintenance. The park supervisor is one smart cookie and has a lot of great ideas. He is a hard worker and given support by management and a little bit of resources he could make a park that would rival anything in the mid-Atlantic. The mountain manager and the guys who run the groomers know what they are doing/are very experienced. It all relates back to the management. They just do not place high importance on a terrain park. I rarely hit the park preferring to ride "off-piste" when possible but I totally understand the importance of it. My thoughts would be to buy a pipe dragon and build a huge half pipe in the Bear Claw area. They might have to reconfigure it a bit (i.e., make it a bit steeper) but that area would probably work well. Light it up and mount speakers. Buy an old rope tow and run the tow down one side, it is plenty wide enough. Then you build the monster hits on Lower Dew Drop and mount your rails as they have in years past. Do the same thing there as you'd do with the half pipe (lighting and speakers). To make it more accessible, they could run a rope tow up "Good Intentions". All this could be done rather inexpensively. All this talk about high speed lifts to the top, not necessary. 50% of your snowboarders would ride the pipe or hit the park, thus, reducing pressure from the top. Oh well, those are my thoughts. Won't be long now, 2 more months.
former t-line employee
September 25, 2005
hey 69er, that is an interesting idea about the rope tow...woudn't that be killer. the ironic thing is they have one already. it has been sitting in the barn next to the terrain park rails that they have and don't put up until late february. i don't understand the managements logic behind making the terrain parks such a last priority. I think timberline is the only mountain in all of the midatlantic not to make a terrain park a top priority.
T-Line 69er
September 28, 2005
Funny you speak about the old "kiddie cruncher" there, former employee. I thought about that, too, but am not sure that the rest of it is still around. All that is at the barn is the "bullwheel". Bullwheel Riding anyone???? I was riding Big Chain Ring a few years back and thought I saw more parts to it lying back in the "bone yard" but am not sure they still have all the parts. There is a small resort that is dying outside Ligonier (Laurel Mountain). They have a pipe dragon, several refurbished rope tows and some relatively new grooming equipment that could probably be got for next to nothing, seeing as LM is in bankruptcy. 7 Springs ran the place last year but 10,000 skier visits won't cut it so I see Springs backing away from running it this year. Sorry I digressed but my point is that they could get some equipment which would help them in park design and maintenance and would not have to spend a ton of dinero. Although, at $100,000 per lot (Winterhaven), despite what Tom says about finances, they should have the bling, bling to pull off what I described. You are correct, last year T-Line was THE last resort to open a park. The employees told management this fact but there was no movement to get it open faster. Perhaps with the increased compressor power and some favorable weather, you'll see a park by mid-January this year, instead of its usual mid-February opening. Then again, all that extra snowmaking power may be used to blow Winterhaven in so they can more easily market the remaining slope-side lots. My bet, mid-February.
davis local
October 18, 2005
Timberline management,

Since this article is about to disappear off the main page I hope you have read all these comments. I have never been an employee in the ski industry, but I have been a local to a ski resort for 15 years. I live in Davis. And I frequent a lot of the midatlantic resorts as well as resorts out west.

Most all of these comments are dead on, and the last few, made by employees, are really dead on. The employees I know say they have been telling you guys in management how to make the mountain more customer friendly for years, but you don't listen. YOu should start to listen!

I do not know all of the employees at the mountain. But the employees I know in the ski school and ski patrol are educated ski industry oriented people. Management at timberline needs to start to listen and work with them. Your employees are a great asset you should use them!

Silver streak-leave it
The lifts-slow and cold, oh yeah slow
The lift attendants-rough
Off the wall-save the whales
Terrain parks-badly needed
Customer service-horrible
New Trail-good luck

P.S.-You guys and gals at dc ski really got a discussion going among employees and locals in the valley. Almost every one I know with a computer has been talking about the manager's interview, mostly because know one ever knows what is going on at the mountain. In my opinion it is a mountain with great terrain, for the east coast, but is extremely poorly managed-more or less a crap shoot. That is the general consensus around here.
March 10, 2006
From OTW


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