Firsthand Report: Epic Conditions at Whitetail, March 7, 2007 11
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

The trip was a last-minute decision, but wow, what a great decision it was. On Wednesday morning my sister, brother-in-law, and I decided to meet at noon at Whitetail Resort for an afternoon of skiing. It had snowed a bit overnight and snow was in the forecast throughout the day - 2-4 inches were forecast. We decided the roads would be in good enough shape to get to the slopes, so the decision was made.

I left the Baltimore area around 10 a.m. Snow continued to fall during the drive, picking up a bit as I passed west of Frederick. I-70 was clear until Hagerstown, when a thin layer of slick snow began to cover the interstate. At this point traffic slowed, but the Whitetail Clear Spring exit wasn’t far away. The back roads leading to Whitetail were covered with several inches of snow, and slick: a sedan was stuck on the side of the road, but switching to four-wheel drive and driving cautiously, I didn’t have any trouble reaching the ski area. As I reached the parking lot, dry, fluffy snow was falling heavily, and there was already a good 4 inches of fresh snow on the ground. And the snow was still falling.

6-7 inches of fresh powder at Whitetail Resort. Photo provided by M. Scott Smith.

It was clear this was going to be a great day.

I caught up with my sister and brother-in-law, and we all remarked how conditions were unmistakably “western” - we weren’t used to seeing fresh powder on Whitetail’s slopes. Even better, very few people were at Whitetail during the day - several hundred perhaps, but never a lift line, and often an entire slope all to ourselves.

After skiing a slope or two (and adjusting our boots), a big smile came across our faces: conditions were epic - among the finest I have ever seen at Whitetail. The snow continued to fall for another hour or so, ultimately leaving 6-7 inches of fresh, ungroomed powder. Absolutely delightful snow to ski in. Underneath this powder, we occasionally noted that there was a layer of hardpack - making us very thankful for the snowstorm. Without the snow, conditions would not have been nearly as good.

DCSki’s Editor makes some turns on Fanciful.

After dumping welcome snow, the clouds began to dissipate and the sun even poked out in the late afternoon. Our timing was perfect. The temperature hovered in the upper teens throughout the day, but there was no wind.

We enjoyed one run after another, starting with the beginners and quickly graduating to Whitetail’s expert terrain. Collectively, our favorite trails were Fanciful (the left-most intermediate trail served off of Whitetail’s high-speed quad), Bold Decision (Whitetail’s double-black diamond), and Far Side (the rightmost expert slope). In addition to the half-foot of snow, Whitetail had made snow on many of these trails overnight. Exhibition, which was sporting enormous moguls on my last trip to Whitetail nine days prior, had been groomed recently - we didn’t detect any moguls under the fresh snow. That was fine with me (especially with my still-tentative bad knee), but I expect by this weekend, the moguls will be back.

Fluffy powder that could go head-to-head with any western resort. Photo provided by M. Scott Smith.

There really wasn’t a bad slope. Angel Drop attracted the most crowds, as usual, and we mostly avoided that slope. It was rare to share slopes such as Far Side or Fanciful with any other skiers or boarders. “Why would anyone ski on a weekend?” we wondered, although we knew that for many people, it is the only time they can. Bold Decision had great conditions - the fluffy powder made the steepest parts much more forgiving than usual. Far Side, as usual, had the best conditions on all of the mountain. I love that trail. We were also able to make some tracks into the trees, although just barely. Fallmount, which connects Whitetail’s expert terrain with the top of Angel Drop, had plenty of excursions into the trees on the right. We happily followed those excursions, although one left its mark on my skis by scratching away some of the wax. Oh well - that’s what tune-ups are for.

Pretty good conditions for March! Photo provided by M. Scott Smith.

Employees at the resort were friendly and in good spirits - from the ticket window to the cashiers in the cafeteria. I once again took advantage of two insider tips that I hesitate to share, but here goes. When I arrived, only one ticket window was open, with a long line. I went to the right of the line inside Whitetail’s warm guest services office, which was completely empty. I purchased a lift ticket there. When it was time to eat dinner, we purchased food in the cafeteria and then headed upstairs. It was loud downstairs, with lots of skiers and boarders eating. Few people know that there are tables upstairs, offering a good view of the slopes and a quieter dining experience. A bonus: there is a warm fireplace on the top level.

The clouds clear on Wednesday afternoon, leaving behind great snow and great views. Photo provided by M. Scott Smith.

All in all, we agreed that Wednesday was the best day each of us had had in a long time. Perfect conditions, perfect company, and a lack of crowds made for a memorable day. I had been dismayed that I had only made it skiing once so far this season, but this second ski day more than compensated for that. By the time we left, the roads had been cleared. In the evening, Whitetail became more crowded, perhaps due to a college night special. But “crowded” on a weekday night means there might be one group of people in the lift line ahead of you.

DCSki’s Editor rests before making another run.

Wednesday’s trip proved that the mid-Atlantic ski season is far from over. There is a ton of snow at Whitetail and other resorts, and that snow will last a long time. If skiers and boarders keep showing up, resorts will keep the lifts running.

Tamara, left, and Sean, right, enjoy their first ski trip of the season. Photo provided by M. Scott Smith.
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About M. Scott Smith

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.

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Reader Comments

JimK
March 8, 2007
I'm stoked!
Connie Lawn
March 8, 2007
Nice going boss. Keep nursing that knee. Wish I were there today (Thursday). Yours, Connie
Tamara
March 8, 2007
Phenomenal conditions and skiing with a phenomenal skier---I couldn't have asked for a better day--thanks Scott!
The Colonel
March 8, 2007
I notice that all correspondents and others in the message forums are all using the term "epic" to describe condition last weekend and up through mid this week. John and I experienced similar conditions at Canaan and Timberline on Sunday and Monday...EPIC.
Re your backpack, when I was at Seven Springs several weeks ago I had my small backpack on versus my usual fanny pack. The lift attendants made me take it completely off whenever I took a chair. I was told that a lot of resorts are doing this now, especially out west, to preclude the rider having the pack get caught in the chair at the off ramp and hanging the wearer. So beware, Scott, and anyone else that wears a backpack while skiing, it might be a good idea to check with customer service before hitting the slopes to avoid the aggravation of having to remove the pack multiple times.
Again, wonderful article. How did the knee hold up this trip, better than your earlier trip?
The Colonel
Craig
March 8, 2007
Thanks for posting this. I'm heading to Whitetail this Friday after hitting Blue Knob today and I'm excited to see conditions should be good there too.
Scott
March 8, 2007
When I ski with a backpack, I've always taken the backpack off before I board the chairlift -- I just swing it around in front of me and hold it in my lap or looped around one arm as I ride the lift. This has become second nature so it doesn't bother me. The one time I didn't do it, I had a very uncomfortable lift ride because the backpack pushed me forward towards the edge of the chair, and there was no bar -- no thanks! I felt like I was about to slide off the chair at any moment. In fact, I think I was about ready to. So the backpack always comes off.

I'd rather not ski with a backpack, but they're convenient for holding camera gear, wallet, glasses, car keys, snacks, etc.
Scott
March 8, 2007
My knee is doing much better, although there's still a steady, mild pain. The knee doctor had advised against skiing, but each of the two times I've skied, the knee has felt better the next day than it had the day before. So much for that advice! I've been doing a lot of leg exercises too, so I think that's been helping. I am still very cautious making sudden movements (such as standing up quickly, running up stairs, etc.) as that seems to bring the sharp pain back. I am so thankful that I've seen steady improvement, and the skiing I did yesterday was pretty aggressive (4 hours of run after run). Of course, the rest of my body is pretty sore today after all that skiing!
Sean
March 9, 2007
Wednesday at Whitetail WAS epic, and only made me look forward to more. Too bad life's been too busy to hit the slopes until March this year! Anyway, it was enough to get Tamara and Scott back to Whitetail today (Friday) but now I'm feeling left out, having to work instead. I'm still sore from 2 days ago, but it's such a good hurt!
John Sherwood
March 9, 2007
I really detest skiing with a backpack but I have been known to do it in Europe to save money on food and water.
Andy(Fishnski)
March 11, 2007
Man..You Are CUTE!!!..Luv ya Boss!
Jim
March 12, 2007
Funny - I've never had a problem with resorts out west and backpacks. Mine is a camelback/small pack format essential for staying hydrated in the Rockies. I just got back from Keystone and none of the lifties said a word. Back home, I regularly ski with a fanny pack and several of my fellow patrollers carry gear in a back pack versus fanny pack. The only significant downside I've seen is making sure your weight is still kept forward despite the extra weight holding you back. Guess I've gotten used to the pushed forward feeling on the chair after so many years always wearing something to carry gear!

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