Visions for Timberline
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24 users
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tgd
January 26, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
Everyone who reads this forum regularly knows that the slow start to the ski season this year made a lot of folks here pretty grumpy. That manifested itself in a good deal of bashing dealt out to local resorts and their management. Timberline sure took a lion's share of criticism - just read the 60+ comments on John Sherwood's "Tale of Two Mountains" article.

Well, the weather has finally improved - and along with it the attitude of many skiers and riders who frequent this forum. So, if folks are now disposed to some positive thinking, I'd like to start this thread to collect members' thoughts on what they would do to improve Timberline if suddenly they were the owners.

I am a property owner at Timberline. Though other owners, including myself, may envy what has been done nearby to improve skiing at Wisp and Snowshoe, I really don't care for the some of the side-effects that came along with the relatively recent development and commercialization of those resorts. Beyond the obvious - install a high speed quad, more snow making, new lodge - what could be done that would significantly improve the quality of skiing and snowboarding while maintaining - or better yet building on the other qualities that make Timberline (and Canaan Valley) unique amongst Mid-Atlantic Ski areas.

This thread is now open for discussion.
myrto
January 26, 2005
Member since 10/4/2001
259 posts
UPGRADED LIFTS!!!!!!!!, and some more variety of trails. It really is for the most part a straight up dpwn trail system. I would like to see them add more options for getting down the hill. I think Canaan has really done well in this regard. I would also like to see an outdoor grill with beach chairs and a Tiki bar, but that might just be me
myrto
January 26, 2005
Member since 10/4/2001
259 posts
P.S. a twentieth if not twenty-first century snowmaking system
JohnL
January 27, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

install a high speed quad




I don't think that T-Line necessarily needs a detachable quad, but they should upgrade the chipmunks that power their current lifts.

Free beer.

Terrain park. For skiers and boarders.

They could clear some more woods for glades. The section between The Drop (right name?) and Silver Streak has a lot of potential. Finish clearing Pump House Glades lower down the mountain. Clear the section between Thunderstruck and Almost Heaven higher up the mountain.

Free beer.

Add a sign at the ticket booths indicating prices, especially for multi-day lift tickets.

Listen to employees.

Free beer.
DCSki Sponsor: Seven Springs Mountain Resort
warren
January 27, 2005
Member since 07/31/2003
485 posts
John,
Hmmm... I detect a subliminal message here For some reason, I feel the need to go get some beer

-Warren-
fred
January 27, 2005
Member since 12/23/2004
59 posts
Upgrade lifts, invest in a real snowblowing system, make a terrain park a priority, glade all the trees in between the slopes. These points were made in atleast a couple of the sixty comments (I finally finished reading them all) and I just want to reiterate the last one again.

Say you gladed all the tress in between the trails they blow snow on. When they blow snow it always blows over to the woods and makes a base in the woods. If they paid a small crew of guys during the summer to glade ALL the trees at Timberline they could offer twice as many runs with the same amount of snowblowing. They would have, no doubt, the best gladed runs south of Jay Peak!!! Small investment - HUGE RETURN.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD - BUILD A TERRAIN PARK. MAKE IT A PRIORITY!!! Timberline is the only resort in the midaltantic that is not making it a priority to open a terrain park as soon as the mountain opens.

Finally the management needs to start to listen to the folks that know the ski industry. There are a few folks in the ski school at timberline that have been in the industry for twenty to thirty years. I've ridden the lifts with them and drank beers in the bar with them. They are all saying the same things we are. If management would use them as resources, they are already paying them, then we wouldn't be having this discussion. We would all quit are jobs and be ski bumbs in the valley.

What amazing potential that place has. Everybody is praising the place now, mostly because of off the wall, and the mountain is barely even 50% open. Amazing
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 27, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,644 posts
It all starts with snowmaking, aggressive snowmaking on every trail on the mtn. That is what sets Snowshoe, Seven Springs and Wisp apart and also Snowtime, Mass, Wintergreen, even Bryce. IF THERE IS COVERAGE, THEY WILL COME. When folks can count on optimal trail openings and conditions given our geography (and T-line is relatively blessed with geography) everything else is surmountable. If chronic popularity becomes a nice problem for area managers, then new lifts will follow and all the other stuff will fall into place too.
skiTLINE
January 27, 2005
Member since 12/15/2004
230 posts
I agree with you all. I also am a Northwoods condo owner and truly love the rustic feel of the mountain. I do however think they (management) could do some upgrades which wouldnt cost millions of dollars and still keep the rustic theme going.

Lifts, yes, detachable quads are nice. But is that definately necessary? I dont think so. They have a good infrastructure in place and could improve/replace the existing "hampsters" they currently have for lugging folks up the mountain. I dont know what lifts cost to build but i would have to say that a large part of these cost would be the digging and placing of all the support post up the mountain. Those are there and I am guessing would not need to be replaced. I would say the largest cost would be leveling the lodge and then rebuilding with a more people friendly theme in mind. I am not looking for Snowshoe amenities here. Just design a lodge which makes it both good for ski breaks as well as just a place to hangout. A indoor/outdoor pool along with some jacuzzis much like up at the Canaan conference lodge would be excellent. This also woudl then allow folks in the off ski season have somethign to do. The base area is fairly large and there are many things which could be done there to make folks stays be more enjoyable while still maintining the rustic feel. I truly think many people who either own at T-Line or frequent the resort do so because it is just that. A more rustic resort.

Thanks for listening to my rambling.
SCWVA
January 27, 2005
Member since 07/13/2004
1,049 posts
The first improvement that needs to happen is to increase their snowmaking capacity. It is the end of January and they are only 57% open. A high speed quad would be nice, but once you get to the top you need open terrain to ski/board.

Increased snowmaking = increased skier visits = increased profits = $$ for improvements.

Keep the rustic feel.
SeaRide
January 27, 2005
Member since 03/11/2004
237 posts

What's the point for an increase in snowmaking capacities if there's no cold weather? So therefore, we need more cold weather earlier than normal. Simple as that.
JR
January 27, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003
276 posts
Thats why I flipped my window A/C unit around and had it running full blast 2 weeks ago.
Rickh
January 27, 2005
Member since 12/2/2004
130 posts
All it's very simple. Blow up the lodge and start over, then upgrade the snow making system. As for the lift's, well if you put a high speed quad, we'd have to many people on the moutain, then it would be like Whitetail. None of us want that, then again 8 minutes to the top ..

We all like to ski there or we wouldn't complaining about this or that. So, obviously we can agree the mountain doesn't need to go... As for the trails, arguably the best in the mid-atlantic. We just want better/more snow, and a lodge we can hang out in after hours..

Agree???
bawalker
January 29, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
There are several fundamental problems with Timberline that go down to the very core of management. I met one time last year who was introduced to me as the manager and whether I don't know if that was true or not (I can't remember his name at this point) he seemed very... lax in his attitude of responsibility that a manger should have. I think that attitude extends to everyone there in a decision making position leaving people like Doug, the patrollers and others wanting things to be different, but powerless to do so.

First and foremost the main thing that needs to change is to add more night lighting, better night lighting on as many trails as possible. This would do more than any snowmaking or quad lift could do. This would simply extend the window of main revenue from 8:30am - 4:30pm in it's current form to 8:30am to say... 9:30pm. Because in all honesty even though Timberline has some very basic lit nightime trails, if you take a beginner there at night and leave them on Woods Hole, they are stuck. Plus even the intermediates only have 2-3 trails MAX to play around on and only 1 black. That simply is uncalled for and during all the nightime visits I've been there, it's like the place is just dead after 4:30. Hardly anyone is there and even when I was there I got bored on the same runs after run.

If Timberline would simply invest in putting high quality lights on Winterset, Lower Dew Drop, OTW, The Drop, Upper Silver Streak, Upper Almost Heaven, Thunderstruck, and lights on all those small connector trails like, Hiz, Herz, Fire Road, etc. This then simply creates an expasion of terrain at night that would attract lots more people, and probably alot more regulars as well. Who here would like to try and OTW whale at 8pm under the lights? I do know that the forrestry service prevents lights from being installed, cables from being tunneled up on Salamander, but couldn't there be some sort of compromise here? Lights on poles, but externally ran cables through the trees to provide electricity? What about mobel construction light types? Things that can be removed come spring? By opening Sally up alone... would increase the attractiveness of Timberline at night.

The second issue is a change of the atmosphere. I wrote last year on the quality or lack there of of the atmosphere of the whole lodge. Honestly it feels like some cheap tossed together lego lodge with college kids in the kitchen slopping together lunch for people to eat on uncleaned, disorganized lunchroom tables. When I went to Whitetail for the first time ever yesterday, I was amazed at the shear professionalism and feel of a really great getaway mall/town. Everything down to the doors was trim, neat, clean, professional. I loved the brick designs in concrete with the street lights outside and the directional signs for everything, the spaciousness and cleanliness of the lodge. They even have a mall-like store for the clothing beside the ticket windows. The layout was great. Timberlines problem is that it was tossed together with no design, no layout planning, nothing.

You know what... if I was in charge of timberline I would go as far as to repaving the entrance from the stop sign up, put in those tiny street lights/lanterns (gotta go with the old fashioned look), have a circle that goes around infront of the lodge with a concrete unloading area and well lit area. Hrm, Rickh had a good idea of blowing up the lodge and starting over. There is nothing 'friendly' about the back side of it. It's like you are walking in someone's back yard to the back side of a messy house. I'm sorry but that doesn't cut it.

A tubing park. This is almost a MUST HAVE staple of any winter resort anymore. Wisp, Canaan, Whitetail, etc have tubing parks to attract those who love snow but don't want to ski/board. That is an entire demographic that Timberline is turning away and major revenues from that demographic by not taking intiative into getting a tubing park created and installed.

For the love of snow build a REAL TERRAIN PARK!! Three jumps and 3 simple rails in a straight line is not even the beginning of a terrain park. Look at whitetail with 11 rails and 3 boxes in one park alone. I don't see why Timberline COULDN'T have a real rail park where the old halfpipe was... or even create a REAL halfpipe where the old one was. Again, another entire demographic group they are loosing out on and the revenues it brings.

Now that all of those other things have been addressed first establishing the foundation of a resort... I'd say focus on installing the tunderdraft triple with a legit high speed quad. Once Timberline installs that new trail next year and you have ALL of the people funneling down off of Salamander and winterset on those two big trails, you are going to have one VERY CROWDED lift. I don't think the high speed quad would crowd things up at all because having Salamander, Almost Heaven, Dew Drop, and the new unnamed top to bottom trails handling the beginner and intermediate crowds then it'd take a high speed quad to keep up the demand at the bottom.

Well those are my thoughts, I could keep going on for another hour but I won't.
David
January 30, 2005
Member since 06/28/2004
2,444 posts
How bout they build a huge dome overtop of the mountain? They could maintain a winter climate all year. How could you beat skiing at Timberline 365 days a year???

Sorry...its late...would be cool though
cheechman32
January 31, 2005
Member since 09/12/2004
27 posts
The biggest reason I ski at Timberline is because of what it ISN'T. It isn't another sterile whitetail that's overcrowded with idiot weekend warriors and beginners. I make at least two trips a year up to Timberline, especially late season to enjoy the complete absence of crowds and ungainly beginners.
ski_guy_59
January 31, 2005
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
Timberline is beating SS in at least one aspect: they have a live webcam! While it doesn't always the best vantage point, it's much better than nothing at all. I think it starts with snowmaking, which in the mid-atlantic is a resort's life blood. NEW lifts would be next, not some half-a$$'d attempt to "upgrade" an existing double into a double-and-a-half. But, at least there is a mountain to ski at...so I can't complain errr... suggest improvement too much.
skiTLINE
January 31, 2005
Member since 12/15/2004
230 posts
I couldnt agree more with your thoughts Bawalker. I own at T-line and even at times get lost going through the lodge. It definately was just "thrown" together. I would say with additional lit trails for extended nite skiing, a newly more moderanized lodge, a tube park, and some damn lites just around the base woudl be key. The lodge, now this would be a big ticket item. But the lites(both at the base and on the trails) and the tube park to me would be relatively inexpensive. Another thing that I would like to see would be mid-mountain hangouts. Like say find a nice midpoint down one or 2 trails and clear a bit more room at one of the connectors and set up some lounge chairs along with a little bar. Dont need to sell alcohol but coffee, cocoa, candybars, prepared sandwiches. This would cost nothing but would add additional revenue. I really think folks would enjoy this and plus spend some money. Not that the trails are som wickedly long that you need a rest stop but people just like the feeling of being able to chill with a soda or coffee and then head back down. Right now you have to get to the lodge, take off boards/skis, then go up those damn rickety ass steps. Would anyone else like something like this?????? Just a trhought.
JR
January 31, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003
276 posts
I think the mid mountain cocoa/coffee bar is a great one. I'd definitely wind up wasting alot more money on drinks if I didn't have to lock my board and go inside. I got a board stolen my second season and I don't go inside ANY lodge without either locking it or taking it back to the car really quick so its quite a task to just go in for a drink. I do just take my board inside if I don't have a lock and its not busy but still, the convenience of just stopping on the slope and grabbing a drink and a break would be great and lucrative for them I'd think.

I've always wondered why someone with a condo along Salamander doesn't set up a drink stand. The two times I was dumb enough to board/push down it I thought I'd have to start eating snow. That thing is LOOOONG.
MadMonk
January 31, 2005
Member since 12/27/2004
235 posts
If you really want T-line to be unique you need to be bold. I'd say ban snowboards from the slopes and then market that. Let the Snowboarders play at Cannaan and market T-line as a skiers paradise.
kwillg6
January 31, 2005
Member since 01/18/2005
2,020 posts
As I have often said, the best improvement for the folks at t-line would be to reconfigure the base area...meaning have a big weinie roast of the lodge, reconfigure parking, drop off/pick up areas, look at puting in some type of pedistrian way along the roads to give a village feel, a real restaurant, cut a new trail between th edrop and silver queen, install a double lift at the bottom of that new trail to service otw, the drop, the new trail and sally. Consolidate services between the different HOAs which would eliminate problems with trash, snow removal, etc... Just a few ideas.
JR
January 31, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003
276 posts
Quote:

If you really want T-line to be unique you need to be bold. I'd say ban snowboards from the slopes and then market that. Let the Snowboarders play at Cannaan and market T-line as a skiers paradise.




That way they'll go out of business, someone with better management skills will buy it cheap, and we'll all be loving Timberline's new high speed quad, 7 springs like snowmaking, and annual pumphouse freestyle comp. in February. I like where you're going with this.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
January 31, 2005
Member since 03/15/2004
1,287 posts
No one has mentioned the limited water supply that they have for snow making. This place will never be much more than it is now until they develop a new source of water for snow making.
MadMonk
January 31, 2005
Member since 12/27/2004
235 posts
I have nothing against 99.9% of snowboarders, but it would make them unique. Developing a nice village and better snowmaking would make them like Snowshoe. If they go skier only they could bill themselves as the Alta of the East.
canaanman
January 31, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
358 posts
Sure, turn Timberline into a skier-only mountain... then we won't have to complain about you crowding any of the other resorts!

Give the snowboarders Snowshoe... how's that for fair play? Better yet... give the boarders Mount Porte Crayon. How you like dem apples now?
jimmy
January 31, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
tgd, nothing stirs some of us up more than this subject. Spent last Wed, Fri, Sat & sun there (had some fun in ski school and as always, timber pub. I'll try to report on that later). The employees are great, the skiers and riders there are a good bunch and I think the hill is as good as any in dcski land.

Terrain- That new slope expansion doesn't get it. That slope is a real estate gimmick to develop more slopeside lots to sell. Glading out the woods and developing a trail between the drop and upper silver streak as others have suggested here adds value for me.

Lifts- Replace thunderdraft lift with a FIXED GRIP quad with no mid station; move whats left of the old triple over to the winterset area to serve the terrain park, Nastar course and provide some night options for beginners.

Beer- Free

Snowmaking/trail openings- I don't know a bunch about the logistics of this but it seems to me that they only have one way to open the mountain and are reluctant to deviate from it. White Lightning was closed sat & sun for college slalom and GS. They had almost heaven pretty well blown in but made no effort to groom it to replace the terrain given up for racing. I just do not understand why if everythings not open they've got 75% of their snowguns turned off if it's as cold as it was last week.

Lighting- I like to night ski at Wisp and 7 Springs because they have GOOD LIGHTS and i can see. As mentioned above, lighting isn't an expensive upgrade, build it and they will come (maybe).

Terrain Park- Either listen to customers and employees and put in a good one or give up on it. Half an a** doesn't get it.

Lodge/skier services- Someone should start a new thread on this topic alone. I don't understand why you cannot buy a lift ticket in the ski shop, at the ski school, at a booth where the skier drop off is or in the bar. Why do you have to stand in line behind the guy who's buying lift tickets and RENTALS for his three kids and their two cousins.

I guess to respond to your question, If i became the owner of TL, I'd let my employees do their job's, make some of the improvements mentioned above and ski for free. See if I got to ski for free, we'd be the first open and last closed in dcskiland. If they don't change a thing, I'll still ski there because it's a good hill.

jimmy
fred
January 31, 2005
Member since 12/23/2004
59 posts
Thankfully - they will never turn away snowboarders- because boyscouts like to snowboard, and boyscouts are all the owners care about. What a joke of a business timberline is. The more I explore the business office and try to talk to the owners and folks in the business office who are in charge, or even find someone who is in charge the more clear it all becomes. It's a crap shoot - that place is unbelievable. Do't get me wrong the on slope employees and other employees are working hard but that place is a cluster *#@! .

Here is the bottom line. The owners of timberline don't invest any money back into the mountain, and they don't really care about our skiing experience(the employees whether it is snowmakers, ski school, or ski patrol make our experience what it is-because they are skiers or riders or more basically they care).

The owners don't care about our skiing experience. That is why none of these suggestions will be taken seriously or even listened to and nothing will chamge until there are new owners. They won't listen to suggestions or to thier employess and they certainly won't invest any money.

They market to groups and boyscouts, not skiers. It's just a coincidence that the terrain is so good and we keep giving them our money to take home in thier pockets. It's just a dumb coincidence we praise thier terrain.

But they do know what sells lots-slope side access. That is why they plan on opening a new trail-for more real estate money-to put in thier pockets. But guess what, it's just a marketing gimmick- kinda like the bear claw terrain park. They saw that freestyle was popular so they said they were opening two freestyle terrain parks. They advertise two terrain parks on the radio, on thier trail map, and in their brochures. But opening two terrain parks requires investment- therefore it never happened. There has never been two terrain parks. Infact their isn't even one this year. False advertising.

It's one thing not to invest and say "what we have is what we have, take it or leave it" but they are saying " hey we have two terrain parks" but really don't ever intend on building them. What a joke.

Be skeptical about what they claim.

Knowing thier background- I wonder what will happen next year with thier new trail. Will they not invest in any more snowblowing??? Will there really be a trail??? Who knows. But I tell you one thing - I'm glad I'm not one of those poor suckers who paid 1/3 of a million dollars for a slope side lot that might be like the bear claw terrain park-just a marketing gimmick and never even open.

Buyer beware.....free beer.
tommo
January 31, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
303 posts
Wow. Passionate about TL aren't we? Why does the topic of TL's infrastructure bring out such vitriolic comments? I remember when Timberline first opened and how great is was to have 2 (count 'em, 2) ski area's within 5 minutes of each other in beautiful Canaan Valley. Would it be nice if they upgraded the lifts and snowmaking? Absolutely. But why can't we be happy with what they DO provide - a fun, low key mountain with great runs, 1000' drop, low prices, terrific scenery, and often pretty good natural snow cover? If you don't care for that mix, then we are very fortunate to have Wisp, 7sp, and Wintergreen all within the same driving time. The owners of TL are not OBLIGATED to spend millions of $$ to further develop their property if they see greater value in their present formula. And yes, that may include catering to Boy (and Girl) Scouts, church groups, youth groups and others. Why is that bad??????
canaanman
January 31, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004
358 posts
Let's face it... the new trail is NOT happening. I can almost completely guarentee it. At least not next season.

My list for the place would run three pages long... if not longer... but it would feature:

*Restoring Cherry Bowl and marking permanently closed areas within it.
*Fixed snowmaking on Salamander similar to what is on Off-The-Wall and around the base. Perhaps even on White Lightning as well.
*Permanent closure of Flag Spruce beyond Off-The-Wall (does NOT connect into Salamander in any way, shape, or form).
*Conversion of Silver Queen into an EXPERTS ONLY lift... meaning it runs at a high speed and if it must stop for you you're warned then off it. No more little kids falling off it either because they can't follow the Responsibility Code.
*Extension of the "bunny lift" to Hiz, eliminating all those cutover trails. Leave the current station as a mid-station for beginners. This would also solve the park lift problem.
*Ditch the mid-station on Thunderdraft. Completely... the upgraded Bunny Lift now handles this.
*Restore the trail between The Drop and Silver Streak in the woods that existed before The Drop and clear those glades out!
*Actually PLYWOOD or culvert the streams on Plywood Parkway, the trail from Lower Thunderstruck through the former halfpipe area... this would be a great place for a rail garden.
*Lose Winterset completely... ditch the trail. Put in a tube park on the former trail instead... imagine the longest 3/4-lane tubing run in WV. Place a rope/tube tow just to the Winterset-side of Lower Dew Drop that takes you to the very bottom of Upper Dew Drop. This works as a park lift as well as a tube lift.
*Turn the hut at the base of Thunderdraft into a Tubing Office.
*Build a sick rail park on Good Intentions and get it open... that trail is perfect for big rails. Build the hits on Lower Dew Drop when weather permits.
*Clear out gladed areas on the lower mountain so skier/riders can progress to those on the upper mountains. Especially the area between Lower Thunderstruck and Lower Almost Heaven and Lower Thunderstruck and Lower White Lightning.
*Open a connecting trail from "Bear Claw" past the Water Tower into Lower Thunderstruck.
*Charge a few bucks for parking (and sell passes for those who have season passes, etc).
*Construct parking lots near Winterset (just expand that one) and a few along Rt. 32 to park MANY cars. Run a good shuttle service between them, Davis, Blackwater Falls, Canaan Heights, and CV State Park. You park for free here. Bus is free. This relieves traffic and ecologic strain on the area near the mountain.

...then begin expanding the trail system. Now you're a quality resort and you are allowing all of Canaan Valley and surrouding areas great business opportunities and profit. Not just Timberline and your employees. Everyone you!
fred
February 1, 2005
Member since 12/23/2004
59 posts
tommo - your absolutely right. they own the place and they can do what they want. That is thier perogative.

My problem is they are not just saying "it is what it is, take it or leave it". They are advertising on the radio, indicating on their trail map, and claiming runs and terrain parks and facts that aren't true. Apparently they never intend on building these things. Bear claw terrain park is a perfect example. It' been on the trail map, I think, for three or four years now - and they have never even made an effort to put even one rail or jump on it. But that is just one example.

It is also their perogative, if they want to, to false advertise, provide bad service, and view the skiing and boarding as an amenity and not a product. But it is our perogative as consumers to comment on it and have opinions - i think that is why we are seeing so many comments.

Us land, condo, and homeowners have a little more at steak here. As does timberline if you consider all the buzz about thier future neigbors -ALMOST HEAVEN.... bring it on
Roger Z
February 1, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Wish I had seen this thread earlier... I think the reason we're all passionate about Timberline is because we think it is either the best or one of the best skiing mountains in the Mid-Atlantic. In my opinion it's the best we have. Timberline owns or leases a significant area of mountainside in Canaan Valley and visually you can see they have developed more of it into real estate than skiing by far.

Snowmaking is a must, but there is some disagreement as to how limited the supply of water can be in the Valley. I've heard previously comments that the water supply is limited and near tapped-out in the Valley, Johnfmh says otherwise and subsequent conversations I've had over e-mail with some locals would lend support to John's position, so there probably is room for more snowmaking at T-line. Add to that the fact that CV has upgraded their system, so there must be water around somewhere.

More fundamentally though is a reanalysis of the real estate market. Let's face it: ski areas don't make money. I've said this story before but it's worth repeating: when I was skiing in Utah last winter the real estate director at Solitude told me that no ski area in Utah has ever made a profit, at least since the 1960s. The only reason the ski areas are running in the black is because of real estate.

If that's true in Utah, where all their snow is made by God, how much more true must it be here in the Mid-Atlantic! We've got serious investment issues in terms of grooming, snowmaking, grading, lift capacity, and the like. So we should all admit that no ski area around here is going to make any money unless they have a substantial real estate base. Which brings us to the point of contention: real estate design.

The fact that no one in the Mid-Atlantic has changed design concepts from traditional suburban large-lot form to a more compact, village ambiance is a bit surprising. Particularly when you consider that Intrawest has done just that at Snowshoe and it's hands down regarded as the best base area in the region. Why aren't other people developing models like that?

So T-line's model is traditional large lots gobbling up prime ski terrain. I would suggest a fundamental revision to this. They've already eaten up a lot of mountainside but I'm optimistic that the west facing portion of their mountain- where they're putting in the new run next year- is still undeveloped. If so, then there are four suggestions I would make:

1) Restructuring of the base area with new, high-density slopeside lodging in the current base village. Buffet this with a couple of restaurants and an ice skating rink as well as some other design elements that would make it feel like an alpine village when you came in. Concentrate a significant percentage of new real estate units in and around this reconfigured base area. Not only does this make for a great feel to a resort, but it also stamps home the point: "we are here to sell real estate to outdoor minded people, so we are preserving key outdoor properties for recreation activities- golf, skiing, etc. We will not compromise your outdoor experience here and therefore this is the place to buy, because we will be the best four season real estate opportunity in the Mid-Atlantic.";

2) immediate upgrade of the snowmaking capacity to get more terrain open quicker;

3) a high speed detachable quad to the summit. T-line has some of the least crowded slopes in the Mid-Atlantic but a high speed lift does not have to make them more densely packed. You simply space the high speed quads at greater distances so that you reduce the lift capacity. On peak days, you can then put the lifts closer together and add more chairs to accomodate the larger crowds (though I don't envision this happening more than MLK and Presidents Weekened each year). A lot of ski resorts use this approach- Brighton in Utah, for one- and I don't see why you can't apply it here. It would lower the number of stoppages, increase the speed getting back on the mountain and all without compromising the rather uncrowded nature of the ski slopes;

4) Finally, reserve the west side of Timberline for a future trail expansion. It would probably consist ultimately of another four or five runs, most likely intermediate in nature. But, hell, most skiers around here are intermediate so I don't see anything wrong with that. For us steep freaks, they really should work at reopening Cherry Bowl and adding some more gladed terrain on the front side, but frankly I think we're well served now and the expansion of advanced and expert terrain should not be a primary focus for the next several years (except to reopen Cherry Bowl! ).

If T-line doesn't want to do this, I'm sure Bill Bright could school them on the matter if he chose to (which is a HUGE question mark)...
JohnL
February 1, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

a high speed detachable quad to the summit. T-line has some of the least crowded slopes in the Mid-Atlantic but a high speed lift does not have to make them more densely packed. You simply space the high speed quads at greater distances so that you reduce the lift capacity. On peak days, you can then put the lifts closer together and add more chairs to accomodate the larger crowds (though I don't envision this happening more than MLK and Presidents Weekened each year). A lot of ski resorts use this approach- Brighton in Utah, for one- and I don't see why you can't apply it here. It would lower the number of stoppages, increase the speed getting back on the mountain and all without compromising the rather uncrowded nature of the ski slopes;





Excellent point. This solution solves many problems without causing others. You modestly increase uphill capacity without overburdening the slopes, prevent irritating (and unpredictable) lift stoppages that occur when inexperienced sliders ride a fixed-grip lift, and when the place is empty, sliders get a quick ride up to the top. It is frustrating to have to take a painfully slow lift to the top when T-Line is a ghost town.

This solution would require a lot of $$, and I don't see it happening. Increased snowmaking usage/capacity would be a lot less expensive.

This is fun speculation, but I don't anticipate many (or any) of the suggestions on this thread to be implemented. So, I'll continue to ski T-Line 1-2 times a year when there is snow in the woods. Though I can appreciate the frustration that property owners must feel. At least the recent price appreciation has been solid, but I wonder how long it can last.
kwillg6
February 1, 2005
Member since 01/18/2005
2,020 posts
Wow, everyone is so stoked up on t-line. Why? It's obvious that we all love this mountain. It's a skier's mountain, no doubt about it. Although we all have our pipe dreams and frustrations about our perceptions of what should be vrs what is, the bottom line is that we ski/board there because it's the best mountain south of Elk in Pa. You can have your intrawest glitz at the shoe. They have succeeded in pricing the regulars off that mountain. Springs is much of the same. The list goes on and on but when it comes down to a great skiing experience in the mid atlantic, timberline can't be beat (especially on a powder day).
JohnL
February 1, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

when I was skiing in Utah last winter the real estate director at Solitude told me that no ski area in Utah has ever made a profit, at least since the 1960s. The only reason the ski areas are running in the black is because of real estate.




Roger Z.,
Do you really believe this to be true for the areas in Utah? I have a hard time believing it. I'm always a bit sceptical about P/L claims of private enterprises.
ndskier
February 1, 2005
Member since 12/11/2003
56 posts
I agree that timberline is a great mountain that needs some work, but why are people on this forum continuously bashing the amazing job intrawest has done with snowshoe. Has it been commercialized, yes, is that really as bad as we make it out to be, i don't think so. Intrawest has converted a resort on the brink of bankruptcy into one of the best 4 seasons playgrounds in the country. With plans to someday exceed 100 trails, Snowshoe could become one of the premiere destination resorts in the East. Yes it is expensive if you don't look for deals, but people can still ski Snowshoe for quite a bargain if you look behind the scenes a little. Students and military get huge discounts and if you go midweek they practically give it away with the 99 dollar deal. Plus, midweek is the time to be there anyway to beat the crowds. SO i say keep bringing it Intrawest, i can't wait to see whats next for snowshoe. Clearly, the company who operates the number one resort in north america knows what its doing.
tgd
February 1, 2005
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
I was pretty sure this would be a popular thread when I started it. It has been really cool to read everyone's ideas about how to improve this resort. The obvious ones have been mentioned over and over in this thread and elsewhere in the forum:

1) Greatly improved snow making
2) New Lodge - I would forego the outdoor spa/pool. The thought of sharing this with hundreds of boy scouts is as disgusting as it is frightening.
3) More glades/open Cherry bowl: I like this idea, it plays into building Timberline's reputation as a skier's mountain.
4) Terrain Park: reading everyone's take on this has really opened my eyes. There really is no excuse for not having a couple awesome terrain parks open and prominently placed where people in the lodge and on the lifts can take in all the action. With all the great skiers and boarders that frequent the valley - Timberline should strive to have the best park in the Mid-Atlantic.
5) Hi-speed/hi capacity lift: Surprisingly it seems the forum is slightly divided on this idea. A number of folks see this as not adding a lot to the experience (I for one would love to get more than 3 runs in an hour).

The ideas I like the best though are the less obvious ones:
1) Mid Mountain cafe - this is a great idea! Add a warming hut with beer and sundecks up top!
2) Closing Flag Spruce - another good idea. That will take all of the beginners off of the Silver Queen, making it a true experts lift.
3) Lights - I had not thought of this at all. I've gotten out of night skiing over the last few years; however, if Timberline really went all out, opened more slopes and catered to night skiing I easily could see returning to the slopes after dinner for some more turns.

Other good ideas are the tubing park and ice skating. These were not my favorites, simply because decent facilities are available 5 minutes away at Canaan Valley State Park. Part of what I like about Canaan Valley, is that my recreation and entertainment needs are serviced by a number of independent business etablishments - Timberline, Whitegrass, CVSP, Blackwater Falls SP, etc.... The existence of a healthy and diverse business community in the Valley is what really makes the place unique IMHO over a big corporate place like Snowshoe. Timberline should chart a path that fosters small business and jobs growth in the Valley vs. competing with the businesses (both state and private) already in place.

A lot of people have finished their posts with "whatever, no one will ever do anything about this blah, blah, blah... . That may be true with the current owners; however, change is inevitable. The current owners may have many faults, immortaility is not one of them. Eventually Timberline will have new management. This mountain could go a lot of different ways - massive redevelopment a la Snowshoe/Wisp or slow degradation to bankruptcy only to reemerge as a funky skier's coop a la Whitegrass. Who knows. I really did not start this thread thinking that someone at Timberline management would read it and jot down all these wonderful ideas for their 10 year plan. I really just like thinking, dreaming, speculating on what the ideal outcome would be. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts!
MadMonk
February 1, 2005
Member since 12/27/2004
235 posts
Just for the record, I was joking w/ the skiers only idea. I thought the Alta of the East thing was a clear giveaway, but perhaps not.

The roots for any success will come via more water for snowmaking. That's really the key as good, dependable, conditions is what really attracts skiers in this area. After you get the volume, then you can revamp the lodge and add cafes and what not.

As to the comment about resorts in Utah not making a profit sans real estate, consider the source and the potential conflicts of interest.
Roger Z
February 1, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Do I really believe that they only make a profit because of real estate? It strikes me as a bit of an overstatement, but from what I've seen in annual reports from Intrawest and other resort owners, while a ski facility might generate profits, the $$ are to be had in real estate. Casually surveying the property a resort holds suggests that real estate is the money earner. This always raises an interesting question: are ski resorts in the business of skiing, or real estate? Similarly, most car companies make the vast majority of their profits from financing, so are car companies in the business of making cars or financing car acquisitions? And copier firms make their money off copy repairs (the margins on selling new copy machines is close to zero), so what's their true business line? Ah, the zen of business...

I also know that Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts has no real estate at all and yet they are in the black almost every year, so a non real estate business plan is conceivable. Wachusett Mountain is also the fifth most visited ski area on the east coast, surpassing 400,000 visits a year. Plus they are a day trip from Boston, Hartford, Providence, Worcester, and Springfield, which amounts to a population of something like three million people within 90 minutes of the ski slopes. The only place remotely close to that around here is Whitetail, and they've gone bankrupt twice.

So, anecdotally and from annual reports I'd say ski areas are in a much, much, much better financial position if they have real estate to sell. The only question is how you structure your real estate sales. On the whole, while I think it's too late for T-line to substantially change it's business model, I'm holding out hope that should there be an Almost Heaven, Bill Bright might exploit real estate opportunities more like Intrawest does and less like Deep Creek Lake, Timberline, Seven Springs, etc, where you're as likely to be skiing by or looking at a subdivision as you are a forest or farm field. Most people- from beginners to experts alike- consider the scenery of skiing to be an extremely important element to why they ski. I want to see a business model in the Mid-Atlantic that incorporates that element. It's difficult because we have smaller hills here, but I think it can be done.
fred
February 1, 2005
Member since 12/23/2004
59 posts
Hey I didn't catch that you were joking, and just for the record, since I thought you were serious, I was restraining myself. I enjoy both skiing and boarding.

But get this story- I was boarding last weekend at timberline. RIding the singles line and got paired up with this lady skier probably in her 40's. Anyway the first thing she said was " I don't think you boarders should be allowed on the same mountain". To say the least I was a little surprised. But instead of pushing her off the lift, I looked down and noticed she was skiing shaped skis. (Actually I noticed the shape skiis as I was looking at how far she would fall). I said well mam if it wasn't for snowboarders you might still be skiing on straight, long skis and throwing your hips around to make turns. She said "what do you mean". I said "well shaped ski technology came from the snowboard industry, and ski's are even starting to encorporate inserts for bindings like snowboards". She said "your lying and besides the shape in the ski's doesn't have anything to do with turning". At that point I knew that was going to be the end of the conversation. We were only at the water tower and more then ever did I wish that timberline had a high speed quad. I pulled out my headphones and asked her if she liked PANTERA. she said "if that is loud music then no" - so I cranked it up real loud so she could even hear it.

Timberline -- BUILD A TERRAIN PARK!!!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 1, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Quote:

Wow, everyone is so stoked up on t-line. Why?




Because if you go there often enough, you will score a REAL powder day. It will not be a UT powder day, but it will be a powder day and that counts a lot in this region. Some of my best ski experiences EVER have occurred at Timberline. Getting face shots in April in the ski industry's "banana belt" ought to speak VOLUMES about Timberline. I can complain until Sunday about its problems but the resort often delivers where it counts--in the untracked out, natural snow dept. And that's why it rocks.
bawalker
February 1, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
John ... or any others reading - If someone was to approach Timberline to purchase it, would the current owners sell if the price was right? Who are the owners anyway?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 2, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Quote:

John ... or any others reading - If someone was to approach Timberline to purchase it, would the current owners sell if the price was right? Who are the owners anyway?




People have approached the owners, Fred Herz and Dr. Reichle (SP?), several times in the past. They don't seem interested in selling--the main reason I suspect is because they are making $ on land sales. When the land lots run out, they may re-consider but then the resort will be much less attractive to any buyer. Still, I think the place is getting too big to fail. In the worst case scenario, I suspect property owners there would ban together and run it as a cooperative like MRG if the current owners ever went bankrupt, which is unlikely as long as there are lots to sell. Land is the resort's salvation as well as its achilles heal.
fred
February 2, 2005
Member since 12/23/2004
59 posts
Hey if you have never tried to talk to Fred, The Doc, or the GM Banzy (sp?), I highly recommend it. It will bring some clarity if your wondering if anything there will change or they will sell. I found them in the business office the one time I tried to approach them and have seen them working the cafeteria line and cleaning up around the cafeteria mostly. If you try to talk to them I think you will understand what is or what isn't going on and where there interest are and where they are not. In my opinion they will never sell - no matter how sweet the deal is.

Ski and Tell

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