It is an unfortunate and depressing time for anyone that is a lover of snow here on the East Coast. It is March 25, 2006, and the ski season is finally coming to an end. I understand that most of the visitors to DCSki frequent resorts in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, and South-Central Pennsylvania, but there are some Eastern Pennsylvania resorts that are still clinging to life.
The large majority of the smaller resorts here and around the Poconos have stopped turning the lifts for the season. In fact, some of the larger resorts have as well. Last weekend, March 19, 2006, Camelback closed its doors. I hold a season pass to Camelback and must say that I am greatly depressed that they closed so early. This doesn’t account for the fact that they were also closed during midweek the week before they closed. The new management at Camelback has not changed their stance on snowmaking, and they ended it in early March, hoping as usual, that natural snow would help with slope coverage. This season has been low on snow here in Eastern Pennsylvania, and although the slopes are still entirely covered at Camelback, the season is over.
Other notable resorts that have closed this past week for the season are Bear Creek, Montage, and Big Boulder. All three resorts are at a lower elevation than other areas and post temperatures well below the average of Pocono resorts. These resorts are largely without advertisements, and the fact that spring ticket sales have dropped off significantly means that snowsport enthusiasts will head to larger areas closer to the cities.
In addition to those already closed, are those that are partially open. These resorts include Shawnee Mountain, Jack Frost, and Mountain Creek in New Jersey. All three resorts were closed this past week but have determined that their base will hold for one more weekend. Mountain Creek was originally closed for the season, but spurred by the cold temperatures of this past week, Mountain Creek fired the guns up and decided to open one of their three peaks this weekend. Be careful there, I have no doubt that the city crowds will be horrendous and there will be little skiing for any individual. The crowds at Shawnee and Jack Frost should resemble that of a weekend early in the season. Most snowsport enthusiasts have ended their weekend trips for the year and will not crowd the slopes.
Finally, there are the resorts that continue to be fully open. The most notable of these are Elk Mountain and Blue Mountain. Blue Mountain, like Camelback, will hold its first annual pond skimming event on its last day of operation, which they have declared will be this Sunday, March 26. Blue Mountain has 29 of 30 trails open. The only trail that is not open is the halfpipe. If you decide to make the drive to ski at Blue, I doubt you will be disappointed. They made snow until Wednesday morning, and coverage is fantastic. Blue is still open until 10 p.m. nightly and will remain so through Saturday. Blue will close Sunday at 5 p.m. It has been reported that icy spots only exist at night, and even then the ice is minimal. Elk Mountain, a personal favorite of mine, is also still open. As of now Elk has 23 trails open for day skiing only. With 3 inches of fresh lake effect snow 2 days ago, and their lower than average temperatures, their snow is sure to be some of the best in Pennsylvania. Elk has stated that it hopes to remain open until the first weekend in April, and I have no doubt that their excellent grooming and base will allow them to do so.
The trip to Elk Mountain is about 5 hours from DC, so I doubt many of you will make the trek. Luckily, Wisp, Seven Springs, and Snowshoe are all within a relatively short drive of DC. All of those resorts will most likely be open through the first weekend of April, and with Snowshoe having the possibility of up to a foot of snow in the next two days, conditions should be epic this weekend. [Editor’s note: on Saturday, March 25, Snowshoe was reporting two inches of fresh snow, with more on the way.] I would expect Snowshoe, with their elevation of 4,848-feet, to stay open through the second weekend of April. Hopefully I will get a day in at Blue today, Friday, for my last runs of the season. Although I could not get out on the slopes as much as I wanted, it was a great season as usual. So, if you are looking for a change, take the drive up here to Eastern PA for your last runs of the season. You shouldn’t be disappointed.
Next year I plead that everyone make at least one trip to Blue Mountain. Blue is making some impressive improvements. They will be replacing their double lift at the base with a high-speed six-person lift, cutting a new trail, and expanding the existing base lodge from two to five floors, with the top three containing condos. Blue continues to expand and improve existing facilities. Hopefully I will shortly let you know how my last trip of the year went.
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.