Would someone please buy blue knob?
68 posts
24 users
6k+ views
Grumpy dad
5 months ago
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
144 posts

Their snow report shows only 3 slopes open, and only the upper portion of the hill. How the heck does one get to the bottom to get to the lift?  
Nothing else open? Jan 8th, they've had many many opportunities to make snow. But they fell far far behind in the tech and will NEVER catch up.

Would someone please buy this place, update it, and then put a dent onto the LH resorts?


danimals
5 months ago
Member since 03/19/2019 🔗
18 posts
Agreed. A ski area with that elevation in the mid Atlantic should be able to at least get one route down with a couple days of snowmaking. 

I don’t think the owners are looking to sell, or anyone is looking to buy. Any buyer would have to contend with vails pricing, not to mention most people heading to the knob would have to drive past multiple vail resorts to get there. 

I heard they did an engineering study on their snowmaking system recently, maybe they will move on that next season.

if I win the lottery, I promise you all I will make an offer on the place. I would simplify the lift fleet, and at least have one too to bottom trail that can have snow made on its entire length. You know, the bare minimum.
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
I always loved BK. Like most businesses you can’t sit during the golden years, got to keep on improving. Too many years of band aid improvements. Whitetail and TL and now Massanutten has taking the lions share of skier traffic. Canaan would be in there too but they also need big investments in snow making. It will be hard for BK to get back to the glory days without a huge influx of money. Even then they have to draw skiers away from WhiteTail, TL and Massanutten with its new trails. The only silver lining which is not a good future for local skiing is the warm weather. BK with a modern system would be totally open by now. The question is would you go to BK or TL almost the same drive time. 
teleman
5 months ago
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
186 posts

While I have never skied at blue knob, it appears to have similar attributes as Timberline.

Interstate access, close to large population centers, elevation, 1000 vertical, expert terrain, and the same distance from Northern Virginia as Canaan Valley.  

It seems to need a similar $15 million investment as Timberline experienced a few years ago.  A top to bottom, high-speed lift, and a few other smaller fixed grip lifts with enhanced snowmaking could make that place shine.

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SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Spot on, plus I would put in there some advanced trails if that is possible? And look into front side potential trails like cupp run and Shay’s. 
HVdad
5 months ago
Member since 01/9/2018 🔗
95 posts

If someone is able to buy the place, that might give us all the opportunity to "get in on the ground floor." :-) Apoloiges in advance, but this one's worth watching over and over... yurasko.net (credit to William F. Yurasko)

teleman
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
186 posts

Great question.  With all things being equal, I would probably favor Timberline being northern Virginia based.  It is a much easier drive from Fairfax and a lot less traffic.  And the Canaan Valley area has some other features such as white grass that are appealing plus they get a little more snow.   

If I lived in suburban Maryland, I would probably favor blue knob.  I suspect you could get to BK from Rockville in 2 1/2 hours.  

And there are lots of people that would be willing to drive past the Vail resorts for something much better.  I spent 15+ years with Whitetail as my home mountain.  Canaan and Timberline have been my home for the past 10 seasons. 

SeniorSki wrote:

The question is would you go to BK or TL almost the same drive time. 

 

SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
BK’s Trails are a lot more fun and challenging then WhiteTail. WhiteTail trails are basically all the same with grade differences. BK has winding trails, glades and really nice steeps. However only when fully open, they need a lot of natural snow. Whitetail blacks are blues at BK, and BK has a double black where Whitetail has zero. So to drive past WhiteTail would definitely be an option if they put in the 15 million. With further enticement with front side trails. As for TL, I haven’t skied there. I plan on skiing at TL and Canaan(if they get fully open.) 
Brook
5 months ago
Member since 09/28/2010 🔗
58 posts
Side note.  Check out their FB update for today 1/09  100% open 12 inches of fresh  un groomed
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Wow! I just checked it out, 34 trails open. Now is your chance area skiers. I’m going to try and make it this week, not sure what will happen there with all this local rain today and this week. Good for BK they need a shot in the arm. 
oddballstocks
5 months ago
Member since 02/11/2017 🔗
123 posts

I joke with my wife constantly that I'm going to take the success from my business and waste it by purchasing Blue Knob.  I'm only half joking, and it scares her..

The purchase price from the investor group was cheap, it's reasonable to purchase.  It's the $15m in capex that'd be an issue.  They own a lot of parcels that could easily be expanded into.

What they need in my mind:
1) Better snow making
2) Better lifts
3) Expand terrain and add a lift
4) Revamp the hotel area, add ski-in and ski-out (related to #2 and #3)
5) Increase marketing spend to bring visibility.

This is all very solvable.  Even bringing in new customers is pretty straight forward.  I don't think Vail is that big of a competitor either.  Vail doesn't advertise locally, their social media presence is horrible, and they're riding on the past success of the resorts.  You could easily outspend them and drive numbers to a new report.

danimals
5 months ago
Member since 03/19/2019 🔗
18 posts
You could probably get some money for snowmaking by selling off one of the double lifts. Not like they get much use anyway.  
JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts


 Season pass holder at BK in the 70s and 80s.  Love the place.  I've seen BK at it's best and it's better than TL.  However, those days are gone without big investment. CV/TL has better lodging, better apres ski at Davis-Thomas (BK is more isolated), Whitegrass for nordic, and higher elevation, which this year has given it a big advantage for cold temps & snowmaking over BK and all the other places east of WV.

teleman wrote:

Great question.  With all things being equal, I would probably favor Timberline being northern Virginia based.  It is a much easier drive from Fairfax and a lot less traffic.  And the Canaan Valley area has some other features such as white grass that are appealing plus they get a little more snow.   

If I lived in suburban Maryland, I would probably favor blue knob.  I suspect you could get to BK from Rockville in 2 1/2 hours.  

And there are lots of people that would be willing to drive past the Vail resorts for something much better.  I spent 15+ years with Whitetail as my home mountain.  Canaan and Timberline have been my home for the past 10 seasons. 

SeniorSki wrote:

The question is would you go to BK or TL almost the same drive time. 

 

Grumpy dad
5 months ago
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
144 posts
I think we all know who needs to buy BK. 
He has had great success improving the highlands resorts.
Yes, it's Bob Nutting.  

The real estate opportunities and expanding terrain opportunities at BK are immense.  Someone will realize this someday, and BK will be great.  
I honestly believe that snowmaking investments alone would drive revenue enough to warrant expansion and further investments in hotels onsite.
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
BK is getting snow now, looks like they may escape all this rain and add to their base. I have skied there many times in the 70’s. They have the upside down format, lodge at the top, ski down to the lift. Entering into the park there was always a huge difference in the amount of snow that fell in the valley and what falls on top of the mountain. Let’s hope this stays the case for the next couple sf storms. All those thinking about going to whitetail go to BK if everything stays open you will have a blast, just be patient with the lifts. Probably only another 1.15 to 1.30 hrs drive more, and a good price lift ticket not full price at WhiteTail for 2 blue trails. 
Laurel Highlands
5 months ago
Member since 10/29/2013 🔗
54 posts

While it is great to see Timberline make investments, time will tell how well that will work out financially for them.   If the weather patterns we have seen over that past few years continue,  believe it will be tough going for most of the resorts and not a great business proposition.    The season has become so short, and labor has become scarce and costly.  Imagine having to maintain things all year and hire and train all those staff, and then not even be able to fully open.  

There is  an oppportunity for true 4 seasons resort to augment with property sales and off season activities.   Massanuttten is a good example of this with their time shares, real estate, golf,  water park, etc.   There has been a big increase in the # of retirees and virtual workers out there to tap into.  But that takes even more investment to make a sucessful resort environment beyond skiiing 

SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Agree I’m not sure how these resorts can make money. I would never invest in any resort below New England and East of the Rockies. Just too risky especially if these weather patterns continue. 
teleman
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
186 posts

Actually, the Timberline seasons are longer now than ever before.

last season they opened on Thanksgiving weekend and closed the last weekend of March.  And this year they opened the first weekend in December.

The snowmaking capability is better than ever

The perfect family knows exactly what they are doing and you can be assured the ski business is profitable.

Laurel Highlands wrote:

While it is great to see Timberline make investments, time will tell how well that will work out financially for them.   If the weather patterns we have seen over that past few years continue,  believe it will be tough going for most of the resorts and not a great business proposition.    The season has become so short,

 

danimals
5 months ago
Member since 03/19/2019 🔗
18 posts
Resorts can make money, but they have to be 4 seasons and have efficient operations. The knob doesnt need all of those lifts. With some reconfiguration, and better snowmaking, they could in theory have the beginner lift and a top to bottom lift. The potential for lift served mountain biking would be huge for the area. raystown lake is a MTB mecca and isnt too far. Blue mountain in eastern PA and Mountain Creek in jersey make a killing off of their mountain bike parks.
Scott - DCSki Editor
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,251 posts

At the end of the day, you can only make snow when conditions permit.  And I think it's becoming pretty clear those windows are on a trendline of narrowing in the Mid-Atlantic, and really most places.  The ski industry has known this for some time -- it's been a big topic of discussion at industry conferences going back decades now.  There will be blips in individual years, but zooming out and looking at the averages is where the trends become clearer.  I've been working on a story that examines how the # of potential snowmaking days in the Mid-Atlantic has changed since the 1990s.  It's taking awhile to gather and analyze enough granular data, but I'm anxious to go beyond anecdotes and see what the data really reveals.

Not all resorts are equal; the local weather patterns and elevations in the Mid-Atlantic vary greatly, along with the effectiveness of each resort's snowmaking systems.  The Perfect family is doing great as Timberline has one of the most favorable climates in the Mid-Atlantic, has essentially an entirely new infrastructure, and is staffed by a crew that has years of experience making snow at Perfect North Slopes just outside Cincinnati -- a place not exactly known for its frigid temperatures or hearty natural snow.  It's hard to imagine a better operator.  I think it's still too early to tell how profitable that investment will be, as it typically takes a resort many years to pay off a new lift, for example.  (Whitetail looked like a great investment to its original underwriters the first several years.  But they obviously had nowhere near the depth of experience as the Perfect family, nor the ability to ride out some warm winters.)  I expect we'll see Timberline exploring ways to bring in revenue year-round.

Of course, other resorts like Snowshoe are also doing great in this challenging winter.  Bryce has been doing great, really impressing everyone this season despite unfavorable conditions.  But Bryce has much less acreage to cover than, say, Whitetail.  (25 vs. 117 skiable acres.)  They can quickly open some trails with minimal staffing and minimal expense, and their trails aren't as steep, so they require less snow to open and can hold onto that snow better.  So it's hard to compare/contrast resorts too much as each one has unique characteristics and challenges/strengths.

I think Laurel Highlands (referring to the DCSki user, not the geographic area) hits the nail on the head -- it would be risky to invest in a ski-only (or ski-primarily) operation in the Mid-Atlantic given current trendlines.  A four-season resort, where skiing is an "extra," lowers the risk, but of course is much more expensive to develop, and faces stiff competition in the area.

Years ago, I had a discussion with an executive at Intrawest, which had recently purchased Snowshoe.  In a candid moment, he explained that Intrawest wasn't interested in making money from lift tickets, but rather from getting a percentage cut of "butts in beds" (his words) from every lodging property they managed.  And that was on top of the rich profit they made building and selling the lodging properties to individual owners in the first place, before those owners turned the property over to Intrawest to then be managed -- it was the gift that kept on giving.

It's easy for us to look at individual resorts and imagine how they could do better.

But it's really hard to run a ski resort in the Mid-Atlantic region, and I think we owe credit to those who are making a go of it.

Blue Don 1982 - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago
Member since 01/13/2008 🔗
1,581 posts
I kind of forgot about BK until this thread popped up. I used to go 1or 2 times a year. With the lousy winters we've had, I can't justify going there with so little open. 

Maybe we'll get a stretch of "real winter" and I can put them back on my radar. 
Shotmaker
5 months ago
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
180 posts
I found a weather report some years ago that indicated the all time high temperature at Snowshoe was 83 degrees. Having lived in California climates and at Snowshoe where many summer days top out in the 60's and 70's I would rather be on top of a mountain than the unhealthy populated lowlands. If it is our misfortune to live in a changing climate that impacts our favorite winter pastime even a few months of skiable weather is better than none.
Grumpy dad
5 months ago
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
144 posts


 Well, I will be interested in reading your article for sure.  Ive owned a place near 7S for about 10 years now (oh geesh!) and I can tell you that the moment I bought that place, it feels like it snowed really good for us the next year then after that it stopped.  When there is precip it's rain.  The same applied to a truck I bought in 2005, we had a drought of opportunities to drive in the snow, then suddenly it wouldnt stop snowing.  So while Im still holding out that this is just a cyclical trend, Im starting to buy into the idea that our weather will just be a tad bit too warm to sustain a ski industry while Im still around sadly.  

When I look at Pittsburgh trending snowfall totals dating back to the 1800's, then I look at the recent 5, 10, 20 years, the only thing I notice is that we've had a few times when snowfall was way below normal. And in fact there are times back in the 60,70s, 80s that snowfall was even lower, then suddenly a boom and it all seems to average out.  But that doesnt translate to areas where the resorts are.  

There are many other things to consider like, when it does snow does it then rain immediately afterwards and warm up to 70 degrees.  Or it gets cold enough but it doesnt snow.   Or maybe how many days do we have optimal snowmaking/snowfall temperatures now vs 20 years ago on avg.  Stuff like that is what matters.  
We could get 12" every week, but if it warms up to 60 degrees and rains 2 inches then what good is 200+ inches of snowfall?

Scott wrote:

At the end of the day, you can only make snow when conditions permit.  And I think it's becoming pretty clear those windows are on a trendline of narrowing in the Mid-Atlantic, and really most places.  The ski industry has known this for some time -- it's been a big topic of discussion at industry conferences going back decades now.  There will be blips in individual years, but zooming out and looking at the averages is where the trends become clearer.  I've been working on a story that examines how the # of potential snowmaking days in the Mid-Atlantic has changed since the 1990s.  It's taking awhile to gather and analyze enough granular data, but I'm anxious to go beyond anecdotes and see what the data really reveals.

Not all resorts are equal; the local weather patterns and elevations in the Mid-Atlantic vary greatly, along with the effectiveness of each resort's snowmaking systems.  The Perfect family is doing great as Timberline has one of the most favorable climates in the Mid-Atlantic, has essentially an entirely new infrastructure, and is staffed by a crew that has years of experience making snow at Perfect North Slopes just outside Cincinnati -- a place not exactly known for its frigid temperatures or hearty natural snow.  It's hard to imagine a better operator.  I think it's still too early to tell how profitable that investment will be, as it typically takes a resort many years to pay off a new lift, for example.  (Whitetail looked like a great investment to its original underwriters the first several years.  But they obviously had nowhere near the depth of experience as the Perfect family, nor the ability to ride out some warm winters.)  I expect we'll see Timberline exploring ways to bring in revenue year-round.

Of course, other resorts like Snowshoe are also doing great in this challenging winter.  Bryce has been doing great, really impressing everyone this season despite unfavorable conditions.  But Bryce has much less acreage to cover than, say, Whitetail.  (25 vs. 117 skiable acres.)  They can quickly open some trails with minimal staffing and minimal expense, and their trails aren't as steep, so they require less snow to open and can hold onto that snow better.  So it's hard to compare/contrast resorts too much as each one has unique characteristics and challenges/strengths.

I think Laurel Highlands (referring to the DCSki user, not the geographic area) hits the nail on the head -- it would be risky to invest in a ski-only (or ski-primarily) operation in the Mid-Atlantic given current trendlines.  A four-season resort, where skiing is an "extra," lowers the risk, but of course is much more expensive to develop, and faces stiff competition in the area.

Years ago, I had a discussion with an executive at Intrawest, which had recently purchased Snowshoe.  In a candid moment, he explained that Intrawest wasn't interested in making money from lift tickets, but rather from getting a percentage cut of "butts in beds" (his words) from every lodging property they managed.  And that was on top of the rich profit they made building and selling the lodging properties to individual owners in the first place, before those owners turned the property over to Intrawest to then be managed -- it was the gift that kept on giving.

It's easy for us to look at individual resorts and imagine how they could do better.

But it's really hard to run a ski resort in the Mid-Atlantic region, and I think we owe credit to those who are making a go of it.

chaga
5 months ago
Member since 11/24/2009 🔗
646 posts
LOL.. here comes another "Sell Tline" like scenario!  Although, that one worked out better than anyones wildest dreams! :) Couldn't be more "Perfect"! 
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camp
5 months ago
Member since 01/30/2005 🔗
660 posts

The 100% open was a today only opportunity. Maybe some will get groomed and blown on and still be around this weekend.

A BK resident is circulating a Change.org petition to "encourage" the owners to sell. Homeowners and HOA are pissed and trying to get meetings with owners. Many owners have selling according to the Change description.

Laurel Highlands
5 months ago
Member since 10/29/2013 🔗
54 posts

Wow, have got quite a reaction here on DCSKI on this thread. In many ways the situation at Blue Knob is a reflection of the local resort business in general.  I have been a local skier for 35+ yars and a Laurel Highlands Property owner for about 20 years, and I can say that I have seen a noticable shorteneing of the season and deterioration of conditions over that time.  Certainly there are differences year to year, but overall that is clearly the trend.  

I fully respect all those who work there and do their best, but it just does not look good for the likes of Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail.  Laurel Highlands and WISP could fare better, and the WVA resorts perhaps better still from a skiing perspective due to elevation, but they ALL are impacted.  The biggest advantage of the higher elevation resorts could be that they are better positined as 4 season getaways than the lowland resorts;  Nothing against Gettysburg and the Harrisburg area, but it just isnt going to be a mountain getaway in the same way.  

Beyond the changing weather, I can see that the purchase of so many of our local ski resorts by the national players has created some additional factors.  From reading through VRI's annual report and looking at their business model, they are is clearly focused on selling season passes where they can pass the weather risk along to you the customer.  Can't say I blame them if it works for them, and arguments can be made that perhaps it will keep some ski hills alive that otherwise could be wiped out in a single bad season.  But have to wonder if based on such a model they have a bit less incentive than  "do-or-die" traditional resorts in opening as eary or as fully as possible.  One has also got to wonder if at some point instead of spending the $ to open the underperforming resorts, that the bean counters conclude that it wouldnt impact their subscriptions too much to close a few resorts and suggest you go to another one instead.    

They also do not seem focued on selling real estate or enhancing 4 season capabilities.  Example can be seen at 7S and HV where Vail did not  buy the golf courses, developable land, or really most anything that could be separated from the skiing operations.   Keep in mind that some of the more sucessful resorts were built on this 4 season model so their eggs were not all in just one basket. To change that model re- introduces risk.

As an example, some time ago Massanutten was offering free mid-week ski passes for anyone who would come to the resort and sit through a time share presentation.  I never would have thought to go to Massanutten, but I went to take advantage of the offer and found the resort to be nice.  I never bought a timeshare, but I spent $ at the resturaunt and  returned several times on paid ski trips based on my experience.  It demonstrated how they were able to combine the skiing and real estate activities together to leverage both and get net additional business. They likely did the same thing in the summer with golf,  and they no doubt sold quite a few time shares and vcation property this way.   The minimal cost to them was that took up space on what otherwise would be an empty midweek chairlift, so basically no real cost to them.  The lesson of the story is that cross-pollination in a local resort can be done well, .....but if resort is divided into multiple ownerships and intrests, then this sort of thing becomes more difficult to do since it is no longer a cohesive 4 season resort.   

The market for retirees and remote workers in many ways has never been bigger.  A few hours east over at Bethay Beach there seems to be no end to the construction going on for those groups.   Go to Asheville NC and see the same thing in the mountains.   A well marketed first class 4 season Vail Mountain Resort within a few hour drive of the major mid-atlantic metro areas could be huge; But what I have seen so far is missed opportunity and a cow milking exercise which won't last once the cow does not produce.    

   

     


BTW according to news reports, Blue Knob sold in 2017 to a group of Pittsburg investors for $1.3M. One one hand it blows my mind to think that an entire Ski Resort sold for the same price they are asking down the street from me here in the DC suburbs for a new 4BR single family on 1/8 acre.  However, it puts things in perspective in the context that it is a business, and the value of a business is based on its profit, while  otherwise it is a liability that will cost money to own.  Any investmentment in noticable improvement would easily surpass the initial investment. 

 

  



Grumpy dad wrote:


 Well, I will be interested in reading your article for sure.  Ive owned a place near 7S for about 10 years now (oh geesh!) and I can tell you that the moment I bought that place, it feels like it snowed really good for us the next year then after that it stopped.  When there is precip it's rain.  The same applied to a truck I bought in 2005, we had a drought of opportunities to drive in the snow, then suddenly it wouldnt stop snowing.  So while Im still holding out that this is just a cyclical trend, Im starting to buy into the idea that our weather will just be a tad bit too warm to sustain a ski industry while Im still around sadly.  

When I look at Pittsburgh trending snowfall totals dating back to the 1800's, then I look at the recent 5, 10, 20 years, the only thing I notice is that we've had a few times when snowfall was way below normal. And in fact there are times back in the 60,70s, 80s that snowfall was even lower, then suddenly a boom and it all seems to average out.  But that doesnt translate to areas where the resorts are.  

There are many other things to consider like, when it does snow does it then rain immediately afterwards and warm up to 70 degrees.  Or it gets cold enough but it doesnt snow.   Or maybe how many days do we have optimal snowmaking/snowfall temperatures now vs 20 years ago on avg.  Stuff like that is what matters.  
We could get 12" every week, but if it warms up to 60 degrees and rains 2 inches then what good is 200+ inches of snowfall?

Scott wrote:

At the end of the day, you can only make snow when conditions permit.  And I think it's becoming pretty clear those windows are on a trendline of narrowing in the Mid-Atlantic, and really most places.  The ski industry has known this for some time -- it's been a big topic of discussion at industry conferences going back decades now.  There will be blips in individual years, but zooming out and looking at the averages is where the trends become clearer.  I've been working on a story that examines how the # of potential snowmaking days in the Mid-Atlantic has changed since the 1990s.  It's taking awhile to gather and analyze enough granular data, but I'm anxious to go beyond anecdotes and see what the data really reveals.

Not all resorts are equal; the local weather patterns and elevations in the Mid-Atlantic vary greatly, along with the effectiveness of each resort's snowmaking systems.  The Perfect family is doing great as Timberline has one of the most favorable climates in the Mid-Atlantic, has essentially an entirely new infrastructure, and is staffed by a crew that has years of experience making snow at Perfect North Slopes just outside Cincinnati -- a place not exactly known for its frigid temperatures or hearty natural snow.  It's hard to imagine a better operator.  I think it's still too early to tell how profitable that investment will be, as it typically takes a resort many years to pay off a new lift, for example.  (Whitetail looked like a great investment to its original underwriters the first several years.  But they obviously had nowhere near the depth of experience as the Perfect family, nor the ability to ride out some warm winters.)  I expect we'll see Timberline exploring ways to bring in revenue year-round.

Of course, other resorts like Snowshoe are also doing great in this challenging winter.  Bryce has been doing great, really impressing everyone this season despite unfavorable conditions.  But Bryce has much less acreage to cover than, say, Whitetail.  (25 vs. 117 skiable acres.)  They can quickly open some trails with minimal staffing and minimal expense, and their trails aren't as steep, so they require less snow to open and can hold onto that snow better.  So it's hard to compare/contrast resorts too much as each one has unique characteristics and challenges/strengths.

I think Laurel Highlands (referring to the DCSki user, not the geographic area) hits the nail on the head -- it would be risky to invest in a ski-only (or ski-primarily) operation in the Mid-Atlantic given current trendlines.  A four-season resort, where skiing is an "extra," lowers the risk, but of course is much more expensive to develop, and faces stiff competition in the area.

Years ago, I had a discussion with an executive at Intrawest, which had recently purchased Snowshoe.  In a candid moment, he explained that Intrawest wasn't interested in making money from lift tickets, but rather from getting a percentage cut of "butts in beds" (his words) from every lodging property they managed.  And that was on top of the rich profit they made building and selling the lodging properties to individual owners in the first place, before those owners turned the property over to Intrawest to then be managed -- it was the gift that kept on giving.

It's easy for us to look at individual resorts and imagine how they could do better.

But it's really hard to run a ski resort in the Mid-Atlantic region, and I think we owe credit to those who are making a go of it.

snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,578 posts

I couldn't resist. We need to bring back Peter Graves and the 'Resort Investment Corporation' with their hokey design to turn BK into the Aspen of the east. What they were proposing may have been more Mission Impossible that Peter Grave's TV show. For those of you that have not seen this 'infomercial' from 1982, its not to be missed. Enjoy;

Blue Knob Resort US Capital Corp 1982.avi (youtube.com)

Note you have to get past the commercial at the beginning to get to the Blue Knob infomercial.

Grumpy dad
5 months ago
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
144 posts

I cant say for certain there is a trend toward warmer temps, only that Im paying attention to it.  
It feels like that is happening, but more so what I am really noticing is two things.  1. We dont get the snow that we used to, nor the big snowfalls like we did before.   2. Once it snows, it then quickly soon after drenches us with rain.  But again, I only care because every weekend Im hoping for fresh snow to ski on and never get it anymore.  

So there are bigger changes I think happening to weather patterns overall, and maybe that has something to do with 3rd world countries industrializing more, or maybe whatever might be leading to oceans rising a bit and/or warming.  Not sure.

However when I look at the historical temps dating back from 1871, I see no change from today.  At least not for Pittsburgh. Sure there are times when it's noticeably more colder, and those times were in the 50s/60s/70s according to the PDF I pulled down from the weather.gov just glancing through each year line by line, but overall we are averaging out right the way things were over 150 years ago!  So maybe the decisions made in the 50s/60s/70s were just poor decisions to put resorts where they are at in the mid atlantic, and it's not as gloomy as we would make it out to be although in reality, we are victims of poor decision making ultimately.  



Laurel Highlands wrote:

Wow, have got quite a reaction here on DCSKI on this thread. In many ways the situation at Blue Knob is a reflection of the local resort business in general.  I have been a local skier for 35+ yars and a Laurel Highlands Property owner for about 20 years, and I can say that I have seen a noticable shorteneing of the season and deterioration of conditions over that time.  Certainly there are differences year to year, but overall that is clearly the trend.  

I fully respect all those who work there and do their best, but it just does not look good for the likes of Liberty, Roundtop, and Whitetail.  Laurel Highlands and WISP could fare better, and the WVA resorts perhaps better still from a skiing perspective due to elevation, but they ALL are impacted.  The biggest advantage of the higher elevation resorts could be that they are better positined as 4 season getaways than the lowland resorts;  Nothing against Gettysburg and the Harrisburg area, but it just isnt going to be a mountain getaway in the same way.  

Beyond the changing weather, I can see that the purchase of so many of our local ski resorts by the national players has created some additional factors.  From reading through VRI's annual report and looking at their business model, they are is clearly focused on selling season passes where they can pass the weather risk along to you the customer.  Can't say I blame them if it works for them, and arguments can be made that perhaps it will keep some ski hills alive that otherwise could be wiped out in a single bad season.  But have to wonder if based on such a model they have a bit less incentive than  "do-or-die" traditional resorts in opening as eary or as fully as possible.  One has also got to wonder if at some point instead of spending the $ to open the underperforming resorts, that the bean counters conclude that it wouldnt impact their subscriptions too much to close a few resorts and suggest you go to another one instead.    

They also do not seem focued on selling real estate or enhancing 4 season capabilities.  Example can be seen at 7S and HV where Vail did not  buy the golf courses, developable land, or really most anything that could be separated from the skiing operations.   Keep in mind that some of the more sucessful resorts were built on this 4 season model so their eggs were not all in just one basket. To change that model re- introduces risk.

As an example, some time ago Massanutten was offering free mid-week ski passes for anyone who would come to the resort and sit through a time share presentation.  I never would have thought to go to Massanutten, but I went to take advantage of the offer and found the resort to be nice.  I never bought a timeshare, but I spent $ at the resturaunt and  returned several times on paid ski trips based on my experience.  It demonstrated how they were able to combine the skiing and real estate activities together to leverage both and get net additional business. They likely did the same thing in the summer with golf,  and they no doubt sold quite a few time shares and vcation property this way.   The minimal cost to them was that took up space on what otherwise would be an empty midweek chairlift, so basically no real cost to them.  The lesson of the story is that cross-pollination in a local resort can be done well, .....but if resort is divided into multiple ownerships and intrests, then this sort of thing becomes more difficult to do since it is no longer a cohesive 4 season resort.   

The market for retirees and remote workers in many ways has never been bigger.  A few hours east over at Bethay Beach there seems to be no end to the construction going on for those groups.   Go to Asheville NC and see the same thing in the mountains.   A well marketed first class 4 season Vail Mountain Resort within a few hour drive of the major mid-atlantic metro areas could be huge; But what I have seen so far is missed opportunity and a cow milking exercise which won't last once the cow does not produce.    

   

     


BTW according to news reports, Blue Knob sold in 2017 to a group of Pittsburg investors for $1.3M. One one hand it blows my mind to think that an entire Ski Resort sold for the same price they are asking down the street from me here in the DC suburbs for a new 4BR single family on 1/8 acre.  However, it puts things in perspective in the context that it is a business, and the value of a business is based on its profit, while  otherwise it is a liability that will cost money to own.  Any investmentment in noticable improvement would easily surpass the initial investment. 

 

  



Grumpy dad wrote:


 Well, I will be interested in reading your article for sure.  Ive owned a place near 7S for about 10 years now (oh geesh!) and I can tell you that the moment I bought that place, it feels like it snowed really good for us the next year then after that it stopped.  When there is precip it's rain.  The same applied to a truck I bought in 2005, we had a drought of opportunities to drive in the snow, then suddenly it wouldnt stop snowing.  So while Im still holding out that this is just a cyclical trend, Im starting to buy into the idea that our weather will just be a tad bit too warm to sustain a ski industry while Im still around sadly.  

When I look at Pittsburgh trending snowfall totals dating back to the 1800's, then I look at the recent 5, 10, 20 years, the only thing I notice is that we've had a few times when snowfall was way below normal. And in fact there are times back in the 60,70s, 80s that snowfall was even lower, then suddenly a boom and it all seems to average out.  But that doesnt translate to areas where the resorts are.  

There are many other things to consider like, when it does snow does it then rain immediately afterwards and warm up to 70 degrees.  Or it gets cold enough but it doesnt snow.   Or maybe how many days do we have optimal snowmaking/snowfall temperatures now vs 20 years ago on avg.  Stuff like that is what matters.  
We could get 12" every week, but if it warms up to 60 degrees and rains 2 inches then what good is 200+ inches of snowfall?

Scott wrote:

At the end of the day, you can only make snow when conditions permit.  And I think it's becoming pretty clear those windows are on a trendline of narrowing in the Mid-Atlantic, and really most places.  The ski industry has known this for some time -- it's been a big topic of discussion at industry conferences going back decades now.  There will be blips in individual years, but zooming out and looking at the averages is where the trends become clearer.  I've been working on a story that examines how the # of potential snowmaking days in the Mid-Atlantic has changed since the 1990s.  It's taking awhile to gather and analyze enough granular data, but I'm anxious to go beyond anecdotes and see what the data really reveals.

Not all resorts are equal; the local weather patterns and elevations in the Mid-Atlantic vary greatly, along with the effectiveness of each resort's snowmaking systems.  The Perfect family is doing great as Timberline has one of the most favorable climates in the Mid-Atlantic, has essentially an entirely new infrastructure, and is staffed by a crew that has years of experience making snow at Perfect North Slopes just outside Cincinnati -- a place not exactly known for its frigid temperatures or hearty natural snow.  It's hard to imagine a better operator.  I think it's still too early to tell how profitable that investment will be, as it typically takes a resort many years to pay off a new lift, for example.  (Whitetail looked like a great investment to its original underwriters the first several years.  But they obviously had nowhere near the depth of experience as the Perfect family, nor the ability to ride out some warm winters.)  I expect we'll see Timberline exploring ways to bring in revenue year-round.

Of course, other resorts like Snowshoe are also doing great in this challenging winter.  Bryce has been doing great, really impressing everyone this season despite unfavorable conditions.  But Bryce has much less acreage to cover than, say, Whitetail.  (25 vs. 117 skiable acres.)  They can quickly open some trails with minimal staffing and minimal expense, and their trails aren't as steep, so they require less snow to open and can hold onto that snow better.  So it's hard to compare/contrast resorts too much as each one has unique characteristics and challenges/strengths.

I think Laurel Highlands (referring to the DCSki user, not the geographic area) hits the nail on the head -- it would be risky to invest in a ski-only (or ski-primarily) operation in the Mid-Atlantic given current trendlines.  A four-season resort, where skiing is an "extra," lowers the risk, but of course is much more expensive to develop, and faces stiff competition in the area.

Years ago, I had a discussion with an executive at Intrawest, which had recently purchased Snowshoe.  In a candid moment, he explained that Intrawest wasn't interested in making money from lift tickets, but rather from getting a percentage cut of "butts in beds" (his words) from every lodging property they managed.  And that was on top of the rich profit they made building and selling the lodging properties to individual owners in the first place, before those owners turned the property over to Intrawest to then be managed -- it was the gift that kept on giving.

It's easy for us to look at individual resorts and imagine how they could do better.

But it's really hard to run a ski resort in the Mid-Atlantic region, and I think we owe credit to those who are making a go of it.

SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
I’m not a scientist or analyst but it seems to me from experience living in this area since 1967, the winters have changed to extremes and not consistency. Would be curious to see the average highs and average lows over the last 40 years in 5 to 10 year blocks. Yes the temps probably have averaged the same over the winter months for the last 40 years. The key here is the drastic changes from one day to the next. I remember winter setting in with daytime temps settling in between 30 and 40 degrees. Now we get one day in the 30’s and 40’s followed by a day or two in the 40’s and 50’s sometimes even in the 60’s and 70’s. Then at some point we get nights near zero, and when you average it out the temp average is the same as when the winter was consistently in the 30 to 40 range daytime. Resorts could count on consistent winters. Can’t remember the name of the ski area in Va not far from DC that tried to take advantage but soon was a bust when everything changed. We have another week of 50’s coming with another rain storm that is going to play havoc with our local resorts. After Sunday there looks to be a long stretch of winter coming the way it use to be. Let’s hope this happens. I just fear that resorts will just keep getting slapped in the face and will pass along operational costs to the skier. Day tickets will quickly go into the 100 plus range. I really wouldn’t mind paying top dollar but I’m not paying top dollar for one or two trails open. Not sure passes are the answer either at least not around here. Do you really want to take the risk and buy a pass with no guarantee? 
teleman
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
186 posts
Most season passes to local independent resorts are near $400 per season.  There are many ways you can slide cost-effectively without the costly walk up rate.  

I will ski 20+ days on my Timberline pass.  That will average out to a little more than $20 per day.  

Massanutten, Bryce and canaan Valley also have cheap season passes.  

If you are paying the walk-up rate….. I hope you are skiing less than three or four days a year


SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Yes I’m in at the most 1/2 dozen times per year. I mostly only ski at a resort when the majority of the blue and black runs are open. Also in the half day camp, bones can’t take a full day. In addition I get senior rates where applicable. I can ski TL for 45 and Canaan at 33. 
teleman
5 months ago
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
186 posts

Sadly, I’m headed towards that half-day status as well.  That new lift at Timberline is wearing me out :)

SeniorSki wrote:

Yes I’m in at the most 1/2 dozen times per year. I mostly only ski at a resort when the majority of the blue and black runs are open. Also in the half day camp, bones can’t take a full day. In addition I get senior rates where applicable. I can ski TL for 45 and Canaan at 33. 

 

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
353 posts

HVdad wrote:

If someone is able to buy the place, that might give us all the opportunity to "get in on the ground floor." :-) Apoloiges in advance, but this one's worth watching over and over... yurasko.net (credit to William F. Yurasko)

 I actually emailed that link to somebody yesterday with the "if only we had listened to Peter Graves 40 years ago..."

I went there once and have wanted to go back ever since. I liked the terrain, especially Stemboggin Bowl, and vibes. I loved the little lodge with the real fireplace.

In under 48 hours, there have been over 30 posts and 1000+ views on this thread. I hope somebody with $20 million burning a hole in their pocket is paying attention.

I haven't been to new Timberline yet, but between the two, I'd probably choose Blue Knob if the snow was equal. It's the only bowl skiing I've done, so that unique experience wins out. It's also more convenient for my ski buddy, who lives near Hershey/Harrisburg. I just started a new thread on Blue Mountain vs. Seven Springs because my ski buddy and I want go somewhere different.

Grumpy dad
5 months ago
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
144 posts


 What's wrong with cruising a nice long green?
I find east coast terrain very subjective. Some of my most painful, downright near deadly and terrifying moments have been on the greens in the east coast as the steeper parts are usually SO icy but sometimes hidden, while also being narrow and heavily congested at times with seriously dangerous hazards lurking RIGHT off the trail. 
People that ski the east after living out west will all attest to the same, that east coast skiing is just so small in stature while also not offering a really reliable safe product to their customers.  Skiing the east reminds me of living in the city, whereas being elbow to elbow with people is just the norm.  Dining with your table 12" from your neighbor table is just fine.  

SeniorSki wrote:

Yes I’m in at the most 1/2 dozen times per year. I mostly only ski at a resort when the majority of the blue and black runs are open. Also in the half day camp, bones can’t take a full day. In addition I get senior rates where applicable. I can ski TL for 45 and Canaan at 33. 
RodneyBD - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago
Member since 12/21/2004 🔗
259 posts

IMHO the only viable outcome for BK is the Magic Mountain or Plattekill model.  A commited onsite owner/operator who is in it for the long term.

Current ownership are approx. six partners in Pittsburgh who bought the resort for fun/as a side gig.  To my knowledge none of them are involved in daily operations.  They aren't going to inject any more capital for cap-ex and the debt market is largely closed to them.  At one point they applied for a grant(s) from the state, I don't know the outcome but clearly wasn't a windfall if they got anything.   

teleman
5 months ago
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
186 posts

This east vs. west thing is nonsense.

The best place to ski is wherever there’s fresh snow, end of story end of discussion.  There are plenty ski areas that aren’t crowded.

If the snow conditions are equal, I would rather ski Saddleback Maine than a crowded Steamboat.

People that ski the east after living out west will all attest to the same, that east coast skiing is just so small in stature while also not offering a really reliable safe product to their customers.  Skiing the east reminds me of living in the city, whereas being elbow to elbow with people is just the norm.  Dining with your table 12" from your neighbor table is just fine. 

 

The19thHole
5 months ago
Member since 06/29/2015 🔗
86 posts

Agreed. Skied Park City for a day last weekend, and the sheer number of people on the slopes made it equivalent to driving I-81. It sucked. Just too many people all over the mountain. PowMow, like a weekday at TLine, is far more my style, and they are both good on good days.

teleman wrote:

This east vs. west thing is nonsense.

The best place to ski is wherever there’s fresh snow, end of story end of discussion.  There are plenty ski areas that aren’t crowded.

If the snow conditions are equal, I would rather ski Saddleback Maine than a crowded Steamboat.

People that ski the east after living out west will all attest to the same, that east coast skiing is just so small in stature while also not offering a really reliable safe product to their customers.  Skiing the east reminds me of living in the city, whereas being elbow to elbow with people is just the norm.  Dining with your table 12" from your neighbor table is just fine. 

 

 

SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Absolutely correct on any given day a big dump of snow is great skiing at any resort with a good base. For me it is variety, grade changes and challenges. That is why BK was so much fun. A small mountain with a big punch. You get it all. Long cruisers-mombo alley, steep and narrow-high hopes and shortway, really steep Extrovert, arguably the steepest around, bowl skiing - stemboggen, multiple glade skiing opportunities. There used to be a halfway up off ramp to access the blacks so you could cut your ride time in half on the lift and kill your legs. The only negative aspect is the long run out that is fairly flat towards the bottom. We use to race from the top of mombo alley all the way to the bottom lift, 3 or 4 switchbacks, fun! I just feel BK is too late in the game. Sat on there butts for too long. Now the competition is taking all the potential skiers away. The only thing that can save them is bad years for the immediate local resorts close to DC. Not trying to be negative here. I do really feel for the close in resorts. They do try and give skiers a product to ski on. If these weather patterns continue I just don’t know how they can survive. I wouldn’t be surprised if several close this weekend again. MLK is a big money maker and it looks like a no go for several resorts. If they ever fail, they could sell all there equipment to BK. But then what do you do with all that land. Got to be a vicious cycle for these local resorts. I hope they can stay around and keep the ski industry going. The future doesn't look great. Yeah I know I sound like Chicken little. Read the lastest world weather report, we are rapidly approaching the dreaded tipping point argued by scientists, increased global temperature average. 
Until then I’m going to get some turns in at the resort that has the best varied terrain available, multiple grades, and at a fair price. 

Thank you ski industry for all you do and try to do. 
Grumpy dad
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
144 posts


Ive been skiing and boarding a long time.  The worst conditions in the west are better than the best conditions in the east, sans a rain storm which just such no matter what you do. 
-If Im going to stand in line for 10 minutes, I would much rather prefer skiing down 1500-2000 vert vs 400-700 (which 50% is usually a run out)  
-My chances of powder are far far greater out west where it snows 300-500 inches a season, vs a highly exaggerated 90 inches per year.
-Ice in the west is packed powder that has been compressed a good bit.  Ice in the east is stronger than steel and is literally impossible to ski on.
-Busy out west means that I will have someone near me on a popular groomer, but not for long.  And likely 30' away.  Busy in the east literally means if someone in front of you goes down then about 10 others behind that person go down too. 
-Variety out west means 3000 acres. Variety in the east means 50 of 300 acres open.

There just isnt an argument to be had here.   There literally is no one that enjoys the sport that would prefer to ski east coast over west coast.  

Edit: that's not to say that one cannot enjoy the east with the right conditions. Park goers can absolutely experience the same experiences from time to time for example, but I'll tell you right now that it is SO much easier to do boxes, rails, and especially jumps when you arent landing on concrete all around the feature. 

teleman wrote:

This east vs. west thing is nonsense.

danimals
5 months ago
Member since 03/19/2019 🔗
18 posts

Someone is running a facebook/instagram account under the handle "blueknobconcerns". They are reporting that the compressor is fried which is why they only make snow using the mobile fan guns. who knows how true that is.

I think a lot of people dont know this place exists. I talk to skiers and riders from out that way and they usually respond with "blue mountain in the poconos?" a little advertising will go a long way. "drive a little further for a place much taller where the snow is much deeper" or something along those lines would get people going, they would just have to make snow to keep that promise.

Hopefully they can go the plattekill model instead of the magic. Magic has been trying to get their second summit lift running for five years now, and just announced it needs more engineering work. not to mention they have zero top to bottom trails open for the MLK weekend...In vermont. I have zero faith in that place.

teleman
5 months ago
Member since 07/8/2005 🔗
186 posts

The worst snow I have ever skied on was at Alta Utah.  It was a very warm spring week, followed by a cold front. The Mountain was locked up tighter than anything I have skied on the East Coast.  

There’s no argument that the conditions out west are consistently better than the East Coast.   

If you want to stick your nose up at the East Coast, that’s fine by me; that leaves more powder for me to track up when the storms arrive.

By the way, there’s plenty of vertical on the East Coast if you know where to go. And I’m not talking about the mid Atlantic.

I just prefer the smaller areas like Bridger bowl, red Lodge, Montana, and many others over the large destination resorts.  

Grumpy dad wrote:


Ive been skiing and boarding a long time.  The worst conditions in the west are better than the best conditions in the east, sans a rain storm which just such no matter what you do. 
-If Im going to stand in line for 10 minutes, I would much rather prefer skiing down 1500-2000 vert vs 400-700 (which 50% is usually a run out)  
-My chances of powder are far far greater out west where it snows 300-500 inches a season, vs a highly exaggerated 90 inches per year.
-Ice in the west is packed powder that has been compressed a good bit.  Ice in the east is stronger than steel and is literally impossible to ski on.
-Busy out west means that I will have someone near me on a popular groomer, but not for long.  And likely 30' away.  Busy in the east literally means if someone in front of you goes down then about 10 others behind that person go down too. 
-Variety out west means 3000 acres. Variety in the east means 50 of 300 acres open.

There just isnt an argument to be had here.   There literally is no one that enjoys the sport that would prefer to ski east coast over west coast.  

Edit: that's not to say that one cannot enjoy the east with the right conditions. Park goers can absolutely experience the same experiences from time to time for example, but I'll tell you right now that it is SO much easier to do boxes, rails, and especially jumps when you arent landing on concrete all around the feature. 

teleman wrote:

This east vs. west thing is nonsense.

 

The19thHole
5 months ago
Member since 06/29/2015 🔗
86 posts

That's probably true for the mid-Atlantic, but not the far north.

Living for years in northern Vermont, I've had some truly epic experiences at places like Jay, Smuggs, Mad River, Whitetail, Le Massif, etc. that are equal to the best of anything I've skied out west. It's just different.

Spend a few powdery days at Le Massif. It's an eye-opener and addicting.

I've also had some awful conditions out west that made me question why I didn't pay more attention to current conditions and hit Quebec rather than fly out west.

But sure, I agree -- Camelback still sucks even on its best day.


Grumpy dad wrote:


Ive been skiing and boarding a long time.  The worst conditions in the west are better than the best conditions in the east, sans a rain storm which just such no matter what you do. 

There just isnt an argument to be had here.   There literally is no one that enjoys the sport that would prefer to ski east coast over west coast.  

ZARDOG
5 months ago
Member since 10/25/2020 🔗
177 posts

Ah it is what it is,  With my weather knowledge and Workplace flexibility helps.

I know what I want for the afterlife.  Ski resort next to the beach with a door portal and no airports.

My goals are based on time and money now.

I have skied around mud and rocks. Racing on ice, in the rain.

I only need a place 1 hr away. Get my 4 hrs of play and 6 hrs of work in the same 12 hour time slot.

midweek, great snow and no crowd. And lots of  fun people. 

Bank is happy, Bosses are happy, and I am happy.

Be happy ZARDOG  

SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Just checked BK, all trails still open, just 2 closed and these are basically 2 glade runs, very short. 33 trails to choose, plenty of variety and challenge, you won’t get bored. Has been awhile since they have had the mountain for the most part all open. Go get some turns in and spend your dollars here, great value for exciting terrain. 
wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
353 posts
ADHski went to Blue Knob this past weekend "The UnGroomed Capital of Pennsylvania"
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,578 posts


Nice film. Looked like the death cookie capital of PA, maybe the world :-).

wfyurasko wrote:

ADHski went to Blue Knob this past weekend "The UnGroomed Capital of Pennsylvania"
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Yes BK is not the place to go when conditions are marginal. We would always wait until at least 80% of the mountain was open. It relies so much on natural snow and they got by for many years. Too many years without advancements and then the competition started. 

It still has the best variety of trails and challenges in the area. It just takes multiple snow events to get BK skiable. I imagine this weekend should be great if they get a solid snow on their base 🤞
wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
353 posts
The one time I went the conditions were marginal, but it started snowing and that inch or two of powder made a huge difference.

If I can could go to any Mid-A ski area tomorrow or Saturday, it'd be Blue Knob, because this is probably their 2024 peak.

As it is, I'll be CV on Sunday with my sons for half a day.
Argent - DCSki Supporter 
5 months ago
Member since 12/20/2018 🔗
19 posts
I’ll be at Blue Knob on Sunday! I’ve been wanting to go for years, but it’s never seemed to be able to open its interesting runs. I love Timberline, but it can get old repeating so many similar runs. 
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts

BK and CV should be some of the best skiing in years after today’s snowfall. Checked both sites and both have over 30 trails open and probably all trails open by Saturday/Sunday. I can’t make it to either one until the following week 🙁 With the rain and big warmup coming I’m going to miss my chance. Get it while you can. The good news is long range forecasts is calling for very cold and multiple snow chances after the dreaded winter thaw that always seems to happen lately in this area, after Tuesday around 5 days of crappy weather then back to building those bases, hopefully not too much damage will be done 🤞

SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
Now is your chance to ski the underdogs that have the best terrain and fun around. It has been a long time since these 2 resorts have been all open. I can’t make it 😭 so disappointed. Oh well that is the way it goes. Going to have to clear my calendar for the first week in February after this havoc causing thaw runs through 😡 I’m giving a shout out to BK and Canaan, you won’t be disappointed unless you are a bells and whistle skier. Who wants to stand in line and basically ski the same terrain all day and always look upslope to see what is coming. It will take you most of the day to ski all the trails at BK and CV and more then likely never stand in line. Yeah the lifts are slow but it far outweighs standing in line for 30 minutes plus. The only drawback is that is is crazy cold, don’t get caught of guard. 

Go get it, this will probably only last through Tuesday. 

😄
abeski
5 months ago
Member since 12/8/2021 🔗
32 posts
Will be at the knob tomorrow.  Very excited to ski the lower Mountain.  Conditions looking excellent
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts
You are going to have a blast, send back a report on extrovert I think it is around 35% - 40% vertical, the top will be very cold. So jealous. 
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts

abeski wrote:

Will be at the knob tomorrow.  Very excited to ski the lower Mountain.  Conditions looking excellent

 I’m old school and not certain of current parking and lodge policy. Get there early, and you can park (use too) right across from the main entrance. Unload skis enter building short walk, 20 yards, to the outside doors to the first run, deposit skis outside building then change in locker room. lifts are at the bottom upside down mountain. It might say no skis in building but you are not leaving skis in building, just passing through. This resort is laid back and they are cool with most things. However things might be different now, this was back in the 70’s. I haven’t been there since. 

wgo
5 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,667 posts

Looking forward to a report! I really liked Blue Knob back in the day but I confess it has sorta fallen of my radar the last couple of years with the challenging weather. Hopefully we'll just have a brief warm up next week before getting back to Winter!

abeski
5 months ago
Member since 12/8/2021 🔗
32 posts

Holy moly that was the best ski day I've had in probably two years.  I'll post a fuller report later
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JimK - DCSki Columnist
5 months ago
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,982 posts
Thanks for the pics Abe.  They really take me back.  I have hundreds of days at BK, but most in the '70s and 80s.  Good to see it reclaim some old glory!
abeski
5 months ago
Member since 12/8/2021 🔗
32 posts

Blue Knob solidified as my favorite ski area in the state and they inarguably have PA's best terrain when there is snow for the whole mountain to be open.

The place was way less crowded today than it deserved to be, which everyone I rode the lifts with was commenting on, I don't know if it was too cold or just a Sunday thing or what.  The pictures I have seen of days when the lower mountain was open often show lift lines longer than a handful of people.  The snow was excellent and the lower mountain is amazingly fun.  3rd time the charm - first time I was there, 2 years ago, Route 66 was on wind hold, last year they never really got enough snow for anything except runout on the lower mountain, finally got to ski Stembogan, Extrovert, the glades, and everything else this time!

Things Blue Knob did well today:

-All three lift routes staffed and running reliably all day.  Lifts seemed to be maintained well enough

-Blowing snow all night and day while they are able to in preparation for less favorable weather.  Fixed and portable guns blowing all over the mountain so the compressor is evidently working

-All trails and glades on the map have been, for at minimum most of their width, mowed/cleared so that a minimum of snow makes them skiable

-Ropes were dropped on all slopes even though less fun places probably wouldn't have opened several of them

-Upper mountain had a solid base of man made snow on top of which the natural snow was excellent and had been groomed appropriately

-Access road in good condition

-Food and bar fully staffed, clean, and very reasonably priced

-Zee lights came on when da moon came out, even on Stembogan

Many of these things even the Epic/Ikon big boys fail to deliver when the snow does come down

We had atrocious weather before MLK, and, as they say in PA, anything before MLK is bonus.  And I personally have no problem with the lifts, they are plenty capable of handling the traffic that they need to, have a good layout, and get you elevated in about the time you need to rest your legs anyway.  That being said they definitely need to continue to invest in their snowmaking system to be able to get and stay open in a meaningful way.

Good job today Blue Knob it was a blast

wgo
5 months ago
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,667 posts
Great report! I think I was last there in 2015. Lower rt 66 was a favorite of mine.
SeniorSki
5 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts

abeski wrote:

Blue Knob solidified as my favorite ski area in the state and they inarguably have PA's best terrain when there is snow for the whole mountain to be open.

The place was way less crowded today than it deserved to be, which everyone I rode the lifts with was commenting on, I don't know if it was too cold or just a Sunday thing or what.  The pictures I have seen of days when the lower mountain was open often show lift lines longer than a handful of people.  The snow was excellent and the lower mountain is amazingly fun.  3rd time the charm - first time I was there, 2 years ago, Route 66 was on wind hold, last year they never really got enough snow for anything except runout on the lower mountain, finally got to ski Stembogan, Extrovert, the glades, and everything else this time!

Things Blue Knob did well today:

-All three lift routes staffed and running reliably all day.  Lifts seemed to be maintained well enough

-Blowing snow all night and day while they are able to in preparation for less favorable weather.  Fixed and portable guns blowing all over the mountain so the compressor is evidently working

-All trails and glades on the map have been, for at minimum most of their width, mowed/cleared so that a minimum of snow makes them skiable

-Ropes were dropped on all slopes even though less fun places probably wouldn't have opened several of them

-Upper mountain had a solid base of man made snow on top of which the natural snow was excellent and had been groomed appropriately

-Access road in good condition

-Food and bar fully staffed, clean, and very reasonably priced

-Zee lights came on when da moon came out, even on Stembogan

Many of these things even the Epic/Ikon big boys fail to deliver when the snow does come down

We had atrocious weather before MLK, and, as they say in PA, anything before MLK is bonus.  And I personally have no problem with the lifts, they are plenty capable of handling the traffic that they need to, have a good layout, and get you elevated in about the time you need to rest your legs anyway.  That being said they definitely need to continue to invest in their snowmaking system to be able to get and stay open in a meaningful way.

Good job today Blue Knob it was a blast

 So glad to hear this report. I hope others in the business are reading. Yes agreed BK has the most exciting trails around. You will never get bored there. A skiers mountain. And to be perfectly honest you don’t need all the creature comforts just good snow conditions and with that you need snow making infrastructure. BK is only great when fully open. That requires a good amount of natural snow. Let’s hope they can hang on to their trails through this warm spell. I’m definitely going there if they do. 

How was extrovert? Was it bumped up, like 5 footers? 

Was edge set open? 

Lastly looks like the mid station was open? 

Great read! 

superguy
5 months ago
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
518 posts

Heh, that's what I say too. If I win the lottery, that place will be what it should be. 

Personally, at a minimum, I think it should at least be what Laurel is. It can at least function well and doesn't feel like you're skiing a hill that just had a forest fire.

I sent an email to Boyne for the heck of it a couple years ago saying they should take a look at BK.  I never heard back from them (shocker :D), but I figured it couldn't hurt.

I'd love to see them, Alterra, or maybe the Perfects come in and polish that gem up.  Of course, it would have to be someone that really believes in the place and is in it for the long haul as it would take a lot of money to even be acceptable, and probably several years until it made a profit.  But if someone can ride it out - look out.

danimals wrote:

Agreed. A ski area with that elevation in the mid Atlantic should be able to at least get one route down with a couple days of snowmaking. 

I don’t think the owners are looking to sell, or anyone is looking to buy. Any buyer would have to contend with vails pricing, not to mention most people heading to the knob would have to drive past multiple vail resorts to get there. 

I heard they did an engineering study on their snowmaking system recently, maybe they will move on that next season.

if I win the lottery, I promise you all I will make an offer on the place. I would simplify the lift fleet, and at least have one too to bottom trail that can have snow made on its entire length. You know, the bare minimum.
superguy
5 months ago
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
518 posts

Doubt you'd get much for 60 year old lifts.  Probably more money being sold as scrap. 

danimals wrote:

You could probably get some money for snowmaking by selling off one of the double lifts. Not like they get much use anyway.  
superguy
5 months ago
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
518 posts

The group members probably thru in 100k-200k each to get it and is largely pocket change to them.  If they lose it, not a huge deal - write it off.  It also means that no single person is likely very vested in the success of the resort because of so little skin in the game.

Scary thing is it's probably almost better for them to let it gradually fall into bankruptcy as they could just walk away rather than having to deal with the mess.

The state doesn't own much of the resort - just the top of the hill where the lodge, upper lift terminals, and the parking lots are.  The rest is private - word is they're sitting on about 1200 acres total. I can't see the state really wanting to invest much in the resort where they'd get so little in taxes or a cut of the "profits" back.  The money is better invested into the park itself.

While the resort itself might be a hard sell to anyone to actually buy it due to the investment - perhaps they'd have some luck just giving it someone or some company who knows what they're doing and at the very least, knows how to run a business.

RodneyBD wrote:

IMHO the only viable outcome for BK is the Magic Mountain or Plattekill model.  A commited onsite owner/operator who is in it for the long term.

Current ownership are approx. six partners in Pittsburgh who bought the resort for fun/as a side gig.  To my knowledge none of them are involved in daily operations.  They aren't going to inject any more capital for cap-ex and the debt market is largely closed to them.  At one point they applied for a grant(s) from the state, I don't know the outcome but clearly wasn't a windfall if they got anything.   

abeski
5 months ago
Member since 12/8/2021 🔗
32 posts

SeniorSki wrote:


 So glad to hear this report. I hope others in the business are reading. Yes agreed BK has the most exciting trails around. You will never get bored there. A skiers mountain. And to be perfectly honest you don’t need all the creature comforts just good snow conditions and with that you need snow making infrastructure. BK is only great when fully open. That requires a good amount of natural snow. Let’s hope they can hang on to their trails through this warm spell. I’m definitely going there if they do. 

How was extrovert? Was it bumped up, like 5 footers? 

Was edge set open? 

Lastly looks like the mid station was open? 

Great read! 

 Extrovert was beginning to bump up but nothing huge.  Some brambles poking through on the left side but had been cleared on the other side.  That really is a fun and steep trail, seemed to me steeper in spots than White Lightning and Wildcat though the profile is more rolling than straight down like those two.

Edge set was open, nice narrow trail under the trees, I really enjoyed it.  Glades cleared and easily skiable from edge set to the bottom.  Kind of forced into D trail if you did not drop into East wall glades due to a recently fallen tree.

Mid station open for unloading and loading.  Friend who is a beginner appreciated the ability to get on at halfway without having to commit to skiing Mambo to the bottom every time and really enjoyed the place better than Roundtop and especially Tussey.  I appreciated the ability to lap the lower Mountain without having to ride to the top.

I would be skeptical that the naturally covered lower Mountain will weather the week and remain skiable although the upper mountain had a pretty thick base and they had some large whales they were blowing all along runout and deer run.

Stembogan is super fun, nothing else like it around.  Drop right in and let er rip

Short way had the best snow on the mountain, had to take short cut due to very bottom being overgeown.  Mine shaft and Bone yard glades signed but not on map, overgrown in vines.

High Hopes had good bumps and snow, 66 was a bit icy.

East Wall glades, skiable from Edgeset, definitely more open and cleared path down after lower entrance from Stembogan.  Untracked areas still

The ditch glades, basically a natural half pipe through the woods, incredibly fun

Mambo alley, snow drop, upper shortwave, knee bend had excellent snow surface.  Expressway and Jack Rabbit were bulletproof per norm.  Deer Run decent surface if slick in spots, thick base and beginning to bump up.  All the narrow crossover trails all had pretty good surace.

The glades for the most part have an obvious path of least resistance thay has been kept clear with plenty of room to turn, and there is plenty of opportunity to slalom around the trees on other side as well.

You have the best conversations with people on the lifts here too.  A friendly place

abeski
5 months ago (edited 5 months ago)
Member since 12/8/2021 🔗
32 posts

Spent just $20 on a pretty thick burger with all the fixings, a rather large soft pretzel with cheese, brownie, and a moutain dew... not bad at all

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Be careful what you wish for, those wishing it would it would get snatched up by a major corporation.  I am of the opinion if they could just get their snowmaking upgraded to the point where Stembogan and Mambo+Runout, plus several blues, could stay open most of the time MLK-President's day, that would be in huge improvement in the viability and reputation of the area.

SeniorSki
4 months ago
Member since 01/31/2022 🔗
139 posts

What a great report! BK should post this on their comments page. 

Agree, not sure how well they will hold up with the rain etc…The mountain is only fun when entirely open and for that to happen they need a good amount of natural snow. It can quickly go away from a warm spell. 

Potential good news the forecast has changed for maybe some snow Sunday into Monday? The long range has mid February through March being way below normal temp wise. If we can get a couple of Nor’easters in the mix, the end of the season can be far better than the beginning. 

Grumpy dad
4 months ago
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
144 posts

I dont really ski / board locally in the highlands that much until towards the end of Jan.  I dont really get out there until after presidents day. That's when the best snow usually lands, and yet the crowds diminish each weekend after presidents day.  It's great.

 

abeski wrote:

Be careful what you wish for, those wishing it would it would get snatched up by a major corporation.  I am of the opinion if they could just get their snowmaking upgraded to the point where Stembogan and Mambo+Runout, plus several blues, could stay open most of the time MLK-President's day, that would be in huge improvement in the viability and reputation of the area.

snapdragon
4 months ago
Member since 01/27/2015 🔗
347 posts
i ride from opening day until the last chair rises to the top...at least 3-4 days a week...that's the difference between a recreational skier and a self-sponsored semi-pro...send it boys and girls...yew!

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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