Cold temperatures have finally returned to the poconos, renewing my hopes of a snowy and extended mid-Atlantic ski season. Being the avid snowboarder that I am, I tailored my schedule so that I would finish classes every day early enough to make it a potential day at the mountain. After finishing class at 12, I headed to my room, suited up, and hopped in my Jeep for the 45-minute drive up to Camelback Mountain in Tannersville, PA. For those of you in DC, it is about a 4 hour and 15 minute drive. I arrived at the mountain, due to some road work, at about 2:00, grabbed my board, and hit the slopes for the first time since the return of the cold weather.
I was pleasantly surprised by the condition that the snow was in. I had been at the mountain the previous Friday for some epic spring skiing, but there were some obvious bare spots. Camelback did well to weather the warm weather, and only had to close one trail for which there were some gaping bare spots. The temperature hovered at just about 30 degrees, and the guns were cranking on the east side of the mountain. The east side contains roughly 7 trails and 2 lifts, one of which is a high speed quad, one of the two that they have. The rest of the mountain, 26 of the 33 trails, was open and in decent condition. There were definitely some icy spots, as can be expected, but there was plentiful man-made snow in many spots, causing the snow sport enthusiast to be greatly slowed. As of Thursday, 29 of the 33 trails were open for operation including a good majority of the previously closed east side.
For those of you who are into the park like myself, Camelback offers two parks, Laurel Glade and Rhododendron Glen. Camelback’s parks are definitely tailored for beginners, but Rhodo does offer some advanced features such as a C-Bow box, a sharkfin rail, a rollercoaster box, a wall ride, and a 25-foot tabletop. Unfortunately, this was not open yesterday, but Laurel was in great condition. The pipe was icy and barely rideable, but the park was great. Other than 6 inches of snow on the landings of the jumps, the jumps allowed for ample air and the rails were all set up wonderfully. It was a bright sunny day with some clouds and it could not have been better.
My ownership of a season pass allows me to come and go as I please, so I only stayed about 2 hours. I definitely received a workout during these two hours and was ready to go. Camelback advertises by saying “big mountain skiing minutes away,” and it is definitely an accurate statement. Although the mountain only boasts an 800’ vertical, it has 139 skiable acres spread out over a large amount of terrain. In addition to this, the majority of the 33 trails are legit trails. The resort is commercialized and incredibly busy on weekends. If you decide to make the trip on a weekend, choose a weekend after President’s Day. The crowds tend to thin out, and the first couple weeks in March yield minimal lift lines and impressive snow.
For the feel of Vermont in PA, I also suggest hitting Elk Mountain. Its relative secludedness in Northeastern Pennsylvania yields minimal crowds, even on weekends, and amazing snow. It has been voted the best for ski conditions in Pennsylvania two years running. Its lack of commercialization and slow lifts give it a big mountain feel. Lastly, its black diamonds are phenomenal and will challenge even those who have conquered Pennsylvania’s other expert terrain.
Brenton Archut lives in the tourist town of Bethany Beach, Delaware. He spends his summers working at Fisher's Popcorn. He enjoys bodyboarding and snowboarding and snowboards mostly in the Poconos, but loves to explore new places. Brenton is currently attending school at Lehigh University, where he is pursuing a business degree.