In a effort to be at the crowds this weekned Madeline and I decided to skip the big destinations entirely and drive north. After spending the night in Pittsburgh, we drove north to the snow belt of western NY. We had the choce of 3 resorts: Peak N Peak, Holiday valley and Cockaigne.
Holiday is probaby the only one that any of you DCSkiers have hard of. I went there MLK Weekend of 2004. IT sia largeish destination resortr about 4 hours from PITT. We had to rule it out because we were trying to avoid the crowds after all.
We settled on Cockaigne. Madeline grew up skiing there (shes from Ohio). And we decided this would be a great opportuinty to revist her skiing birth place. The resort is a mini with abotu 450 vertical. it caters almost exclusivly to families and has a very pleasing atmostphere. Unfortuantly there is nothing that I would consider to be advanced terrain. The resort has approximatly 5 wide "slopes" averagin about 200 feet wide each covering the full vertical. The also have ~15 "trails" whih are small winding and about 15' wide. We had great ocnditiosn on saturday as they had just recieved 18" of fresh snow in the past 2 days.
When we arrived that morning at ~9:30 am, we were disapointed to see that apparently all the slopes were groomed. After exploring for an hour we foud a section of ungroomed fresh powder untouched by the families and kiddies. I got a chance to practice my "patience turns in the un-tracked and after abotu 5 runs I was gettign the feel for it. I had also tracked out the section.
The trails at cockaigne are IMO the primary attraction. Narrow, rolling and full of twists and turns they are great fun and very aesteticly pleasing. There are couple of very nice glades mixe din the trails as well. The glades are ticghly spaced and have a some nice bumps. The glades were my favorite because they offere soe of the only ungroomed terrain there. There was one additional black diamon there wihch was allowed to bump up a little and skiing powder and crud covered bumps was really fun. Cockaigne is not the kind of palce I woudl ever drive for 6 hours to go to. However after 2 trips in as many years to western NY, I am convinced that the resorts in the western NY area have some of the best snow conditions on the east coast. And I have another trip planed for later in march. Over all it was a great day.
Sunday: We skied 7S on Sunday. We arrived at ten to eight A.M. After pulling into the north lot, we jumped out of the car and took our first run down through the terrain park. I was quickly impressed with both the lack of crowds on the holiday morning and the lack of snow.
The pistes were well covered however the side of trails and the large bowl area was pretty bare in the spaces not covered by snow making. The lack of trees on the north side was making it tough as the windward sides of jsut about every slope was wind scoured. The snow was good however and crowds weren't terrible. The longest wait was at the gunanr lift when we go in the "slow line" and had to wait 15 minutes. North face slope had the best snow on the north side. And was still soft and comfy even at 5:30 PM when we were making our final run of the day.
On the front side tyrol had the best conditions. Non of the glades were skiable except the alpinmedows glades and the glades next to tyrol. The blitzen slope was very fun and there was a really nice jump ~4 ft drop (next to the pond) on the uppper part of that slope. There was a second terrain feature further on as you approach the alpine meadow glades. We had a blast at 7S, and nearly skied out our tickets (which is pretty rare). However in the mid afternoon Madeline was take nout by an out of control snowplowing skier on tyrol. The guy was a total jerk and just skied off on to the lift. Apparently he didnt even say anythign to her after nkocking her down. She hurt her shoulder but was able to ski the rest of the day. We will see if she has to go to the doctor or what. But I think she is OK.