Cupp or Shay's?
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Roger Z
February 13, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
I've finally skied Snowshoe. I know everyone on the board was waiting with baited breath for the day and here it is (just kidding).

Anyway, a couple of quick observations. The snow at Silver Creek holds FAR BETTER than the snow at Snowshoe; there's just so many fewer snowboarders there to ruin it. JUST KIDDING AGAIN! There are fewer people there to scrape of the snow- skiing or riding- period. Also it faces due north, and overlooks the spectacularly beautiful Shaver's Fork which, although it's not an officially designated wilderness area, is as wild looking as any wilderness I've seen in the Mid Atlantic. With the trees frosted with hoar frost, nine inches of snow on the ground and a high of 13, it honestly didn't look that much different than some of the forested hills outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Plus it's just wild to look out across something that remote while you're skiing; almost makes you want to throw on a pair of X-C skis and go see what's out there.

Snowshoe- I took a whopping three runs on the basin side and spent the rest of the morning on the Western Territory. Cupp and Shay's ski nothing alike- they are about as different as two runs can be. You can tell Shay's is a modern run. It goes where it wants to and just uses the mountain to add pitch. Cupp IS the mountain, in my opinion: when you ski Cupp, you can feel how the mountain was made with its rolls, twists and pitches. It's a classic in every sense of the word, as fine a trail as you're going to find on the east coast with few exceptions (Goat comes to mind, as does most of MRG, but that's beside the point).

Question this morning: which run do you prefer, Cupp or Shay's? And by Shay's I mean the whole thing, not just down to the cut-off back to Cupp. I'm of two minds on this one and would be interested to see what other folks on the board think... cheers!
JR
February 13, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003
276 posts
its Cupp all the way. mainly cause I can barely make it accross the traverse at mid Shay. Shay is fun but you can't beat the a continuous, undisturbed jaunt from top to bottom. The travers near the bottom of Cupp can still be taken fast and doesn't kill the mood like Shay's traverse does. Upper Shay to Lower Cupp is one heck of a fun run too I must say and taking the cutoff fast and dropping right into lower cupp is a blast.
JohnL
February 13, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,512 posts
Roger Z.,

I've only skied Snowshoe in the pre-Shays days. How would you compare Lower Shays to Extrovert, Lower Wildcat, Bold Decision, Upper Gunbarrel, etc.?

WRT Cupp: Cupp Run is a pretty easy trail (for it's rating), but it was very well designed. It holds up very well to any double blue in the US. Killy knows his stuff.

And by the way, QUIT KIDDING!
Roger Z
February 13, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
The two steepest stretches of terrain I know of in the Mid Atlantic are the upper 50 feet of Gunbarrel and D Trail at Blue Knob, and nothing holds a candle to either of them.

Lower Shays is comparable to the black diamonds at Steamboat in Colorado- that was the first thing that came to mind. The headwall is MUCH longer than you initially anticipate- I kept looking up thinking I was nearing the bottom only to find myself 1/3 or a half the way down.

The thing that makes it tough to compare to Extrovert is that Extrovert has that trail crossing right after the first headwall, which slows down your ability to just bop along on down it. Pitchwise they're probably similar, but Extrovert has those nasty whale swales that Shay's was lacking. On the other hand, Shay's has the long drop. It's too close to call in my book.

Bold Decision- please. That's no steeper than that drop on Lower Cupp.

Now what about Shay's versus Off the Wall? Hmmmm... it's been several years since I've been to Timberline. I want to say Shay's is a little steeper, but would have to go back to T-line to confirm. The fact that the headwall on Shay's reminded me of skiing out west was a good thing though.

Lower Wildcat? Probably a little steeper. Certainly fewer novices and intermediates trying to pick their way down it.

Anybody been to Denton lately? I can't remember Avalanche well enough to compare the two...

The thing I liked the most about the Western Territory was the big "Advanced skiing and riding only" sign at the top. To me, that sign was a big huge green light to let rip on those trails. Any novice skier out there was in the way and potential road kill. I think they should add another note to those signs: "NOVICES AND INTERMEDIATES YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. ANY ACCIDENT THAT YOU ARE IN WILL BE PRESUMED TO BE YOUR FAULT AND RESULT IN THE REVOCATION OF SKIING/RIDING PRIVILEGES. IF YOU ARE NOT ADVANCED OR EXPERT, YOU ARE IN THE WAY." Man, was it a blast catching air on the rolls in Shay's and yo-yoing Cupp.

ps- I really like the design of Cupp Run and wish more trails were built like that, but at the end of the day I enjoyed the challenge of the Lower Shay's headwall- particularly the ice-strewn mogul field- enough to give the points to Shay's. If Shay's was designed like Cupp, though, there'd be no contest between the two...
MadMonk
February 14, 2005
Member since 12/27/2004
235 posts
I voted for Cupp. One reason being the steady pitch, as mentioned above. The other is that I'm not a fan of icy-moguls. Now when the moguls on lower shays have 5 or more nches of fresh snow, are soft, or groomed then it's almost a dead heat.
kwillg6
February 15, 2005
Member since 01/18/2005
2,020 posts
One thing cupp has over shays is that it is doesn't get the boiler plate like the last headwall on shays gets. I've skied both and even with fresh on the bumps on lower shays, the snow has a hard time holding on the plate hence, there will always be ice there UNLESS it is a warm, hollywood like day. My only complaint about either is the number of skiers/boarders who shouldn't be there, but then again, they pay for their lift tickets too. By the way, if you want to really rip on cupp, try the cupp run challenge usually held the first monday in February. It's a 1 mile GS from the top to the bottom of the last steep.
Roger Z
February 15, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Well, I was just rippin' to relieve stress from school (ugh- stress in school. The exact OPPOSITE reason for why I came back. Oh well). Normally I'm a "stop and smell the roses" kind of skier. Half the reason for being able to handle double-diamonds is because the views from the top of steep drops are usually stupendous. Sometimes I'll kick my skis off after a hike back to this terrain and just take it all in for ten or fifteen minutes before having a go at it.

Which was another cool thing about Snowshoe- the views off the Western Territory and the Basin side were so different, but in such cool ways. I loved the scattering of spruces that led down to the lake, and the north view off of Silver Creek into the Shavers Fork wilderness (for lack of a better term). Then on the Western Territory there was the "usual" snow covered WV countryside... but it was surrounded by some noticeably high mountains. Plus looking back up the ridge from lower Shay's was just cool- it was like you were looking back up a MOUNTAIN, not just another WV ridge.

Glad to see most folks like Cupp... it really is a well-designed run. Have any of you ever heard of Sel Hannah? He was a legend in the ski industry who died years ago. Basically to build trails he would snowshoe through the woods and tag the route down. It'd be interesting to ski some runs up north that were specifically designed by him to see how they feel, too.
JohnL
February 15, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,512 posts
Roger Z.,

Glad to hear that Lower Shay's is not merely a myth of Snowshoe's marketing department.

Interestingly enough (and a bit surprising), you and I disagree a lot about some local trails that we've eached skied. Part of this may be due to the fact that many of the trails rely substantially on snowmaking for coverage and terrain features. Depending upon how snow was blown during a season and how the trail was groomed, the steepness and difficulty of various sections of the trails can vary tremendously.

I agree with you about Upper Gunbarrel. It has some legitimately steep sections.

During what months and years have you skied D-Trail? It's a rocking little trail, but I wouldn't call the trail as being anywhere near steep. When I skied the trail, there was some fun and challenge at the top; but that was due to some tight turns around a couple of trees and a required mild hop turn over a fallen tree.

I love Extrovert. Plently of different lines on that trail. However, the only real steepish sections are the drop-offs to both skier's left and right at the lip of the bottom traverse. The two traverses, some tricky swales from snowmaking, the shrubs peaking through in sections, and some permanent spots of icy death make the trail a challenge.

The challenge of Bold Decision varies enormously based upon grooming and how much the snowmaking swales have been built up. This year (mostly ungroomed and with no swales to speak of), BD is very tame. There have been plenty of years when Bold Decision rivaled Extrovert for lines and challenge. In those seasons some of the drop-offs were 8-10 feet, with lots of bumps at the bottom. Catch some air in those conditions, and you've earned your challenge. Skier's left has had a very tight gulley in year's past, and skier's right has a fall line that pulls you into the creek below. Plus, I've normally got a lot of speed from the flat section at the top when I hit the headwall.

I skied Off the Wall last year. Some fun swales (easier than the toughest I've seen at Whitetail), but take away the swales, and it is not a steep trail at all (even by Mid-Atlantic standards.) I think OTW is less steep than Bold Decision.

Lower Wildcat is great, but it shouldn't be groomed.
Roger Z
February 16, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
JohnL-

I skied DTrail a few years back during the big snow winter. The drop in impressed me a lot- how many other runs in the Mid-Atlantic do you have to take a mandatory jump to ski? It wasn't a huge jump or anything, but it was one nonetheless.

Apart from that, I really don't disagree with anything you wrote (see, we're not that far apart!). Except for Bold Decision. It's a good training run, when it's ungroomed it is an advanced run, but I wouldn't put it in the ranks of the best of 'em around here. If Off the Wall isn't any steeper, well, that's disappointing.

Another interesting run that doesn't get mentioned much is Devil's Drop at Wisp. It's no steeper than The Face but because it's fairly narrow and natural snow, it has what looks like some good challenge in it. I say "looks like"- I've never been to Wisp when it's been opened. I'd like to try it someday though.

ps- I did some calcs on the topo map and it looks like the steepest part of Lower Shay's has about a 53% pitch. So I guess in my books, any run that has a 53% pitch or greater qualifies as good expert skiing in these parts...
JR
February 16, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003
276 posts
Quote:

JohnL-
Another interesting run that doesn't get mentioned much is Devil's Drop at Wisp. It's no steeper than The Face but because it's fairly narrow and natural snow, it has what looks like some good challenge in it. I say "looks like"- I've never been to Wisp when it's been opened. I'd like to try it someday though.





Well now, let me brag a little. This is where going to WVU has its perks. Last year and the year before were such great snow years that me and my friends got to hit Devils Drop up after huge snows numerous times during the mid week. Now, just because you've skied it when its open doesn't mean you've experienced it since they claim its open alot due to blowover snow from the snowmaking on the Face. You have to experience it with nice deep powder though to appreciate it. Its not really that steep at all and since it was powder when I've been on it it wasn't hard at all but MAN its fun. They have some great spaced trees between it and the Face which are actually way more fun than the actual Devil's Drop trail. The best part is that it takes a long time to get tracked out since most people don't know about it. The biggest problem is that it is very short, like most things at Wisp.

Like I said, Devils Drop isn't hard by any means but if you ever get a chance to do it don't pass it up.

I've seen people ski the lift line of Chair #1 between Grouse Way and Boulder but it seemed to be more of a "look at me" thing than it was fun.

Bobcat Bowl has never been enjoyable for some reason. It looks neat but its not really that steep and is quite boring even with powder. Odins Chute right beside it has snowmaking and is much more fun. It takes forever to get tracked out too since most people take Eye Opener instead.
JohnL
February 16, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000
3,512 posts
I've never skied Wisp, but sounds like it has some interesting sections. During a good snow year, there are plenty of little hidden treasures at places like Blue Knob, Laurel Mtn, T-Line, Canaan, etc.

Roger and I will just have to disagree about Bold Decision. It was Da Bomb in Da Day. Not in the top five of Mid-Atlantic trails, but in the top ten. Note: my previous post should have indicated that BD has been mostly groomed this year; too late to edit that post.

I guess Trail X has been officially unmasked. I last skied it in January of '03. I hadn't remembered that fallen tree across the top; it may have been totally covered in snow in previous years or the tree may have recently fallen. I was even comtemplating jumping over some brush behind one section of the log, but it was a bit too risky a move to try without a spotter.

The top section will probably keep a lot of people out. That day in '03 I skied D-Trail a dozen times in a row; I had the trail all to myself. On each chairlift ride up, I jealously guarded how good it was. On one of my last runs down, I look up and see a couple of kids standing at the top. D@#$%@, secret's out. One kid says to the other, "I've never seen this trail before, let's give it a try." The other kid is quiet for several seconds, staring at the top of the trail. "Nah, let's try something else."
Roger Z
February 16, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Another great part about D Trail is the skinny little trail that leads down to it- Edgeset is it? Bounce off the moguls on that and then pick your poison- the always thin and ski gouging glades (which have neat spots in them) or D Trail- or the long runout to Stembogen. That whole section in there is great. Just wish there was better environmental management than they currently have.

JR thanks for the tip on Devils Drop. I have skied the woods beside Face before thanks to blowover snow- those are mighty fun indeed. Wisp skis bigger than it is thanks to the backside.

Ski and Tell

Speak truth to powder.

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