A. Install a high-speed quad
B. Open up the lower half of the mountain
C. Put in a racing trail (because lower thunderstruck is always closed)
D. Get the expert terrain open and have more available (which would be tough)
E. Build a good terrain park on Lower Dew Drop and a jib park/snowskate park on Good Intentions
My thoughts on the above:
A: They need to get some speed chairlift-wise. The triple crawls along and constantly stops in the afternoons because the beginners cannot load easily on the fixed grip. A high-speed chair would take care of this.
B: The lower third of the mountain is chaotic on a normal, high traffic, day. I think they need to slice some narrow, short connecting trails starting just below mid-station on the Salamander side of the mountain to attempt to releive some of that congestion.
C: One of my favorite trails, Thunderstruck is usually half open in the afternoons due to NASTAR on lower thunderstruck. I think they need to just clear out the mess theyve made on Cherry Bowl Glades and put the NASTAR trail in there.
D: On the subject of expert terrain on the mountain, there isn't a whole lot of potential for it. I think they need to make the Drop and the Wall into a large, steep, double-black bowl. It could funnel down to the trail that the Drop ends on, therefore providing a heck of a lot more challenging terrain.
E: Terrain parks at Timberline, oh wait thats almost as big of an oxymoron as Microsoft Works. They need to close down Winterset. Not totally closed, but where you can't access it from the mountain's marked ski runs. Then they need to build up a large terrain park starting at the bottom of Upper Dew Drop (Just above Lower Dew Drop) and ending at the base. Another good suggestion might be to make Dew Drop a full time terrain park. You could easily build a quarterpipe up there and it would have soft snow because of its facing, and you dont need it open too early. A jib park on Good Intentions might work out nicely as well, of course only if your gonna do the lower dew drop park.
Now they just need to get their act together, the way I see it they've got about 3-5 years before Corridor H is finished. If they can do this at a reasonable rate they could detract a large amount of the DC crowd from Snowshoe and maybe run a profitable resort. But what are the odds of them listening to me... even though I've been skiing and riding there for about 10 years? 1: 10,000 probably.
Those are all good ideas, but many are also expensive ideas. Isn't this a bit of a "chicken and egg" problem? A high-speed chairlift normally costs at least $2 million to install, and opening up more of the mountain will require additional snowmaking and put a further strain on limited water supplies.
There are enormous startup costs for resorts, and every resort must look at capital improvements as long-term investments. (Indeed, a high-speed lift is amortized over a period of many years.) But there also must be access to capital to fund the improvements, and in this economic environment, that could be difficult to get. I don't know whether skier vists have been going up or down on average at Timberline, but I believe they've been edging down as a whole for the Mid-Atlantic region, particularly due to a recent string of warm winters. Can a compelling argument be made that an investment of $2 million in a high-speed chairlift would really attract enough new skiers to justify its cost? (Bearing in mind that skiers like us might not be the ones that have to answer that question, but no-nonsense financiers who can choose to put their money in any investment they want.)
It's a risky proposition: Corridor H might be the thing that helps drive visits up, but taking on additional debt in shaky times can also be a very dangerous thing to do, making a bad situation worse. Especially in the Mid-Atlantic, where warm temperatures can sometimes obliterate a ski season.
From what everyone has said on DCSki, Timberline is a fantastic resort with great, untapped potential. This winter looks like it's off to a great start, and one highly profitable season would give all of the resorts in this area a lot more breathing room in focusing on necessary improvements. (Now, we just have to do our parts and get out and ski!
IMHO I think that Timberline is quite possibly the 2nd best resort in the state and maybe even with Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia combined. They have many pros where snowshoe has cons, such as afforadable lodging practically onslope and much more to offer than just a big ski hill. Maybe they should capitialize on these things, such as the natural beauty of the area, i.e. Dolly Sods and such and obtain money by running tours and the like out into the "wild blue yonder" that is Canaan Valley. I hope that they do invest more into their future as a ski resort, but they offer so much more.
I guess I just enjoy the skiing more often than the summer activities.
You might consider purchasing Downhill Slide by Hal Clifford. It will give you a whole new appreciation for Timberline and the issues it confronts. Given the declining demographics of this sport (something Scott alluded to in his message) and the poor weather we often experience, we should all feel, very fortunate indeed that we even have smaller resorts like T-line.
Let me throw out one sobering statistic from the book. Depending on how elaborate it is, a high-speed detachable lift would cost anywhere from $2 to $4 million to purchase and install. It would cost another $250,000 a year to operate the lift. A small resort like Timberline simply cannot sustain those costs given its current skier visits. Instead of purchasing new lifts, which are beyond its modest reach, the resort is focusing on improving snowmaking-a positive step forward.
Currently, the resort is lean and mean. Last year, despite all the bad weather, it ended the season in the black. According to author Hal Clifford, lean and mean is the only way smaller, non-corporate resorts can survive. However, these resorts are vital to the industry writ large because they offer affordable skiing to middle class Americans and draw in new users to the sport. You only need to witness the busloads of kids who come to T-line midweek to appreciate the resort's value in introducing newbees to the sport. With its first-rate ski/snowboard school, confidence building slopes, and reasonable lift tickets and lodging, T-line is a wonderful choice for those interested in taking off a week to learn how to ski.
Here are some other things to love about Timberline:
It receives impressive amounts of natural snow.
It offers a first class junior racing program with world class coaching.
The grooming is fantastic.
Most Timberline employees enjoy working at the resort and their friendly enthusiasm rubs off on guests.
T-line still feels rustic, and underdeveloped.
The mountain has impressive vertical and terrain.
You mentioned Dolly Sods as another draw, but there are many other amenities in the Canaan Valley worth pointing out. Canaan State park has one of the best golf courses in the state. There's epic fishing and hunting around the valley. The Blackwater River offers some of the best white water kayaking within 4 hours of DC, and Davis has an impressive network of mountain biking trails. Lastly, Whitegrass has the best cross country and back country skiing in the Mid-Atlantic. I could go on and on.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-01-2002).]
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-01-2002).]