50 deg on Gunbarrel @ Roundtop PA???
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PhysicsMan
April 27, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
I just was in a ski store to have some base repairs done and picked up a copy of an advertising brochure for Ski Roundtop (PA). I was pretty surprised to find a claim (in a figure caption) that "Gunbarrel" was 50 degrees.

I haven't been to RT in at least a decade, but I sure don't remember any pitch that steep. That's hugely steep!!! For example, I seem to remember High Russler at Alta as "only" being around 38 deg.

What's the story here? Did they mean 50 percent, or did they mean 50 degrees (but only for a 12 foot drop) - grin?

As they say, "inquiring minds ...", truth in advertising, and all that.

Tom / PM

[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited 04-27-2002).]

danwxman
April 27, 2002
Member since 03/7/2004
58 posts
Nope, that is not false at all. Upper Gunbarrel is one of the steepest slopes in Pennsylvania (I actually thought it was more like 60 degrees, oh well). Roundtop mountain is quite small but it has quite a steep headwall on the northeast side where Ramrod and Gunbarrel are. You may not have noticed Upper Gunbarrel because it used to be a natural-snow only trail, this year they added snowmaking but they didn't turn them on the whole year. I guess they figured the snow would blow right off, but then why would they even put snowmaking on it then. Anyway, try Roundtop again when Upper Gunbarrel is open, and make sure it's not just lower (this year they had lower open much of the season but not upper part which is 50 degrees) The lower part is more of a blue run but Roundtop labels it as black.
PhysicsMan
April 28, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
Wow! A real 50 deg, not a mistake, eh? That's impressive. How much vert do you think is actually at that pitch? Is it similar to Upper Strata (or is it Upper Ultra) at Liberty?

I do remember seeing Gunbarrel in the old days, but exactly as you suggested, I never was there when it was open (ie, in the days b4 snowmaking on it).

I keep meaning to go back to RT, but being down here in Silver Spring, I invariably head up I-270 and wind up going to Whitetail (or rarely, Liberty) if I am going locally.

Thanks for the info.

Tom / PM


[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited 04-29-2002).]

danwxman
April 28, 2002
Member since 03/7/2004
58 posts
The steepest pitch is about 1/4th of the slope...I would say it's about 200'. I really hope we have some good snows next year so I can ski it. I never have, I've always been too affraid. hehe
JimK - DCSki Columnist
April 29, 2002
Member since 01/14/2004
2,646 posts
Good story on the subject of ski slope steepness at
http://www.skimag.com/article/skilife.cfm?alias_id=9087
Title:
How Steep Is Steep?
by Jay Cowan
An excerpt:
Most serious steep-hounds don't really get interested until the pitch goes over 45 degrees. The limit? Top alpinists these days are working pitches in the low to mid-60 degrees, but on anything much steeper, it becomes very difficult to maintain your ski's contact with the snow. In fact, snow's "angle of repose," the greatest tilt at which snow can stick to the slope, is, at most, 75 or so degrees.

A 45-degree pitch is equivalent to a 100-percent grade, and both mean that a run descends one vertical foot for each horizontal foot. (Steepness can be presented in percent or degrees, with ski professionals using degrees.) "In perspective, a very steep highway-pass road is approximately 7 percent or about 4 degrees," according to the Highlands Extreme Guide trail map. My carpenter friends who also teach skiing like to tell their students that the incline of a standard house stairs is 30-35 degrees, which seems mild enough on the way to breakfast-but not when you're looking down the Nose of the Headwall at Squaw.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
By the way, having been to both places, my impression is that the real steep part of Gunbarrel at Roundtop is shorter than the real steep part of Strata at Liberty and I wouldn't rate one much different than the other.
Editor Scott: if you see this...I hope I didn't break any copyright laws using excerpt above??
Jim K.

PhysicsMan
April 29, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
> ... having been to both places, my
> impression is that the real steep part of
> Gunbarrel at Roundtop is shorter than the
> real steep part of Strata at Liberty and I
> wouldn't rate one much different than the
> other.

Interesting. In the first few years after they first opened the back side of Liberty, I used to ski that steep section quite a bit on old straight skis. I remember it being so frustratingly short that it took only a couple of hop turns b4 you were on the runout.

In recent years, I've only been back to Liberty a couple of times (ie, in favor of skiing almost entirely at Whitetail), and surprised myself by shying away from doing it. I guess that getting 15 years older, 20 lbs heavier, having a kid, and endless hours on green slopes with said kid will change one's perspective - grin. Next season ...


Tom / PM

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 29, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
For next season, I'm really thinking about buying a $17.95 slopemeter to put an end to all these endless debates (often started by me, grin) about slope angles.....

The Lifelink Slopemeter is used by back country freeriders who are trying to determine avalanche risk for slopes. I think they might also be fun for measuring local Mid-Atlantic slopes. I'm curious to see if claims like the one made by Roundtop are true...

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/boulderoutdoor/4120.html

PS Ortovox also makes a handy pocket slopemeter, but I have yet to find a US vender that sells them.

PhysicsMan
April 29, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
Somewhere around home I have a device that I bought in a hardware store for under $10 that does the same thing. Its looks to be a bit fancier than the outdoor one since it has an internal plumb bob weight on a pivot so there is no question about getting a true vertical reference.

Its probably still being marketed, but it probably now costs as much as the one for outdoor use. Then again, with some care, wouldn't a $2 protractor from CVS work just as well?

Tom / PM

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
April 30, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Whatever device works. I just think it is about time that someone other than the resorts measures these slope angles.

John

PS Perhaps if Gunbarrel really is 50 degrees, we can convince Warren Miller to use it as a location for one of his future films. :-)

PhysicsMan
April 30, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
> Perhaps if Gunbarrel really is 50 degrees,
> we can convince Warren Miller to use it as
> a location for one of his future films. :-)

Maybe it will help if we come up with some good titles. You know, something that will really draw in the skiing crowds ... perhaps:

1) Maryland Steeps & Deeps

2) Warm and humid fusion

3) Tornado of Ahhh's

4) The South Face of Whitetail

... you get the idea.

Tom / PM

PhysicsMan
April 30, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
johnfmh - All I can say is that should you want it, you could have a new career ahead of you

Tom / PM

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
May 1, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Miller's film script would look something like this:

Narrator (Miller): "When the weather dips down to a chilly 50 degrees, skiers in our nation's capital shift their attention away from the world's problems and instead focus on more important things, like the 4 inches of manmade powder that appeared overnight on the steep slopes of Whitetail mountain. Whitetail is just an hour from the beltway, but a world apart. Here, freeriders from around the globe congregate to access to 935 vertical feet of some of central Pennsylvania's finest terrain. Our film crew caught up the two-time Mid-Atlantic freeride champion, Scott Smith, on Angel Drop.

Miller: "Scott, what makes Whitetail so special?"
Smith: "Whitetail offers all the amenities of Deer Valley but with backcountry access that rivals Jackson Hole. Unquestionably, it is the best freeriding experience in the country."
Miller: "What's your favorite run."
Smith: "First tracks on Limelight is an experience of its own. Sometimes I take it real slow and just soak in all the views, but on powder days I put my body into some of the most deadly, gnarly positions, imagineable. I'll catch big air off the upper headwall or power down the trail's 60 degree couloir. It's just awesome. I feel so privilege to be able to ski this terrain year after year."

Narrator: "Today is special, though. The Warren Miller film crew is chartering a helicopter to do some backcountry skiing on nearby South Mountain, a mountain that often receives 20 feet of snow a year. There's 6 feet of fresh powder on the peak right now and our helicopter tests the snowpack for avalanche hazards with its skid before finally dropping Smith off. Scott has waited 4 weeks for the snow to settle enough to make a descent down South Mountain."

Cut to cool music and images of Smith jumping off a helicopter skid into 75 degree couloir on South Mountain.

Narrator: "Whitetail and the Mid-Atlantic backcountry: If you don't ski this year, you'll be one year older when you do."

Scott - DCSki Editor
May 1, 2002
Member since 10/10/1999
1,096 posts
Ok, I laughed out loud at that script. Thanks for the chuckle.

- Scott (freeride champion)

ski_guy_59
May 5, 2002
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
Can I fly the helicopter?
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