Real Time Report - Canaan Valley
March 1, 2005
The wife and I up for the weekend. Staying at Canaan Lodge.
Great skiing on the trails with a manmade base (real powder!), and on some of the natural trails. Had the best two runs of the season....just felt great...on natural covered Weiss Meadow 2 (next to the terrain park) and a couple of runs down Upper Valley Vista, Ramble and over to the lower Valley Vista Face. The skis were "singing"!!
Gravity was open but what a mess. While skiable, it was moguls of snow and ice at the top, followed by hugh (10+ feet high, 60 in length) mounds of snow/ice spaced intermitenly down the rest of the trail. I met a lot of folks who had skied it once, and that was going to be it for the day. Why the ski area does not groom the mound into a groomed skiable base and surface baffles me. Ski area was not crowded, only one upper chair running and never a line. Stayed below freezing all day with a lot of flurries. Ski report somewhat misleading. In truth there were only five full length runs with a man-made base from the top. Canaan plays the game of changing trail names numerous times if there is a dip, or whatever.
First time this year to Canaan Lodge. Many changes, all great, apparently a new general manager. One is this computer available to guests and on which I am writing this report. The shuttle service timely, rooms clean, staff better trained and really friendly. Breakfast buffet wonderful. Lots of deer as usual, especially close to rooms, both sides. And for the first time in years I enjoyed the indoor pool, it was warm. In short, a great trip so far!!! And I found I got a senior discount at the ski area, can't beat a $46 lift ticket for two days and one night. Heading for dinner. Come on up, the snow is great!
Glad to see your havin a goodun there Colonel.Deer heaven,thats what i call the place!I'll be up there next weekend with prob 2 feet of new march powder to greet me.Tell them to leave the light on for me!
I think the idea of blowing snow mounds and then not grooming them came from Timberline. Personally, I think it is a dumb idea because except under ideal conditions, these mounds are not skiable. As Adam Chase said to me recently, "the landings are too sketchy" for extreme skiers like him. Furthermore, there just aren't enough "extreme" skiers in this region to waste terrain trying to cater to such a small group.
For Gravity and OTW, I suggest that the resorts groom the manmade snow mounds once and then let moguls form naturally from skier traffic and new snow. It really won't take long and experts will then have some decent mogul runs to play on.
We have been up at Timberline all weekend too. I can second the Colonel, conditions Friday and Saturday have been outstanding - the best of the season so far. There is a ton of snow on the slopes, both White Lightening and Thunderstruck have been in great shape. White Lightening was best on Friday, but Thunderstruck was truly sweet Saturday. Silver Streak was also great and very forgiving as well as Lower Thunderdraft. Have not tried OTW, will wait till we get a decent dump.
Johnfmh- isn't that what T-line and CV used to do: groom once and let the moguls build while keeping part of the trail groomed daily? I'm thinking about driving up to CV next week instead of Snowshoe and will be interested to see these whales, but... but... moguls are what you find in abundance in ungroomed terrain, and lacking a decent mogul field in the mid-Atlantic is a serious problem.
I just left to Timberline slopes to go home. Conditions were sugar on ice, actually really good. Even got a bronze medal at Nastar. But the negatives were as they always are: really slow lifts and a disaster for a lodge. The lift situat really frustrates enough to make the ski day almost unpleasant. The lower triple chair had a fair line, while the upper triple (Silver Queen) had no line. And the slopes were mostly uncrowded, but sitll the resort runs the chairs at a snails pace...maddening. Yesterday at Canaan the quad waw really running fast, you felt it in the back of the legs when loading, but it was safe and got you up the hill much faster than the Timberline chairs did today.
Gotta run. More later! The coming snowfall should make this place a real pleasure this week and coming weekend.
RogerZ, if you are heading upto CV next week, that might coencide with my planned visit again. Care to meet up?
OTW has never been groomed, to my knowlege, in its lifespan. I seriously doubt Timberline has the grooming equipment necessary to maintain it. Which brings me to point one: if you can't groom out the whales, why make them? I think they should leave one or two big trailwide ones at the top... tends to scare-off novices that shouldn't be on it in the first place. After that... let the moguls go... instead of building two huge rollers at the bottom, push those up into a high-banked turn or quarter-pipe and let people build-up speed on the trail then bank out onto Salamander.
The Drop, in my mind, will always be the better mogul-trail. The fall-line is straight, the slope is steep until the very bottom, and there's no good gladed terrain on either side. When the moguls get big on The Drop, they are the best possibly south of New York.
IMO, OTW would be excellent as a gladed run, esp. the left side. It holds snow very well. Perhaps they should narrow it down to just the right side for a few seasons and plant some trees on the left side and turn that whole area into a nice powder-filled glade. You could still blow snow in it if you kept the trees fairly spaced and have a "sissy" run to bail-out onto on the right side. It would, in effect, be the best and longest-open glade south of the Adirondacks.
Really, they don't have to do too much grooming on OTW to prevent the whales. Just freqently reposition those highly-positionable snowguns to cover the slope evenly. Snowshoe does it.
How hard is it to set up a winch system to groom OTW occasionally? I thought most groomers had winches. It should be just a matter of putting in some type of anchor (concrete pit with a metal ring) to secure the cable. Why the heck would Timberline install snowmaking without setting up a winch system to groom the whales out. That's penny wise and pound foolish. Is there more to a winch system than meets the eye? I've seen the system in operation on steeper terrain in Europe many times. The key issue is to get people off the slopes when winching is taking place because those cables can be dangerous.
PS I don't want OTW to be groomed. I just want moguls to form naturally on top of the manmade snow and that requires at least one good groom per season.
Bawalker- yeah, we should talk. I'm thinking of staying at Blackwater in one of their cabins for two nights. But being a college bum, I'll be skiing on Monday and Tuesday (spring break!)
The main reason that snow whales are made is because they're endemic to snowmaking. When you blow snow, it lands in a big fat pile in the middle of a trail. Groomers usually groom the thing flat resulting in a nice smooth surface across the run, but in the case of OTW and others, what you do is you only partially-push the snow around, leaving the majority of the whale in place. It's also an ungood method for preserving base on a trail during a warm spell, because the areas in between the whales will thin out quicker.
OTW has, in fact, been groomed before. I think it was soon after they first made snow on it either last year or the season before. I rememeber hearing that they had to pust it out from the top down, as the downhill sides of the whales were too steep to work on. When it was groomed it was scary fast. I think they then blew more whales on it later in the season. My memory is kind of foggy on the sequence of events there. I believe the whales were left ungroomed this season because they were well recieved the season before by most of the experts skiing the trail. However this season, they are a bit bigger, steeper, icier and not as much fun as last season. I agree it would be nice to see it groomed out and allowed to bump up naturally. Especially since it doesn't look like the Drop is going to open this year. When the Drop is open and bumped up I think the whale treatment on OTW adds a nice challenging terrain feature to the mountain.
Roger Z. and Canaanman are spot on about how not repositioning the snowguns will cause the whales. Extrovert at Blue Knob, Lower Wildcat at Laurel Mtn and Bold Decision at Whitetail are trails which have had some whales on them in the past. These features have enhanced the trails.
I haven't skied OTW this year, but the whales were a total blast last year. (I skied them when they were very icy and still had a lot of fun.) Without the whales and/or sufficient bumps (or a foot of freshies), OTW is a pretty lame trail. Not something any area wants it's most advanced trail to be.
Sounds like they may have overdone the whales this year. I can't yet speak from personal experience on this one.
I don't see the attraction of The Drop. Even by Mid-Atlantic standards it is not steep. There is little terrain variation. It is just a wide straight cut down the mountain. Boring! Double fall lines are not bad, they add challenge.
As long as they are not overdone, snowmaking whales can take a basic vanilla "advanced" trail and make it a lot more interesting and challenging. One of the reasons why many of us can talk for hours about trails at Mad River Glen, Stowe or Castlerock @ the Bush, it that you can ski a single trail all day long and find different terrain features and lines each trip down. It is a lot more difficult to acheive this affect in the Mid-Atlantic since it requires a lot of snow to cover over the tree stumps, rocks, ledges, drainages, etc. that give those New England trails much of their character. In the Mid-Atlantic, the combination of snowmaking and grooming can to a degree simulate some of the interesting variation found in New England trails.
As to the "extreme" skier finding the landings too sketchy too huck. ????????????? Why not just use the interesting terrain variation and ski on the downface of the whales? Or catch less air? There are plenty of interesting sections on Rumble, Liftline, Goat, Paradise et al that are not huckable unless there's a lot of fresh snow to cushion the landing. Should we dynamite them and groom the trails?
I've seen a fair amount of advanced skiers at areas in the Mid-Atlantic, particularly at Timberline. I've also seen a lot of skiers struggling down the toughest slopes at local areas. Should we make the toughest slopes easier because we can't feed their egos?
Seems like the topic has changed to whales! Warren said he had a good time on Gravity's whales when they were fresh, now they're icy and not so much fun? Gravity is probably the steepest at CV?...maybe those whales are wearing out their welcome.
The challenge to OTW is finding your own way down bcause there isn't really a best way down, in fact, as short as I am, I usually can't see down. I can ski bumps, but I'm definitly not a bump skier. The Drop has always been fun for me but it's maybe not a big deal to a bump skier....now if Doc would dig into his pocket and put snowmaking on The Drop, what would whales do for it? Would OTW be better as a Lower Wildcat type bump run?
Until then, I say save the whales!!
I say save the whales!!
Now that's a good slogan!
How many of you have ridden OTW on a true powder day?
MLK weekend two seasons ago OTW was the best it has EVER been. There were no whales, the bumps were still small, and over a foot of fresh covered the trail left to right. You could drop HUGE powder carves across the whole trail, play in the glades, and ride the bumps later when they were skied-out. OTW used to be THE trail for powder. It still could be... if they ditched those lame whales.
To me it seems as if Timberline is trying to control their expert skiers. They are making them slow-down and work bumps, instead of having a trail with a perfect and long set of moguls that also doubles as the best powder run in the Mid-Atlantic when the snow falls.
Now, if they're trying to force people into Cherry Bowl...
Give me a foot of powder on the whales that OTW had last year and I'll take it, no questions asked.
Why should whales make you slow down?
C-bowl is C-bowl, regardless of what happens on OTW. And you know a lot more about C-bowl than I do. Not that I'm pulling a Sgt. Schultz.
Edited to correct rank.
I agree with the fun and challenge that whales add to a trail. If upper gunbarrel were groomed you could straight line the first 100ft and it woudl be way too easy. With the big crusty swale that has been cut up and iced over it has a real challenge to it. Moguls, swales, etc... we have to take extra steps to make local trails more interesting and to keep the noobs off 'em.
I will be skiing T-Line for the first time this weekend so I will have a more informed opinion then. I am not sure how whales make a person slow down. You can absorb on the flats and extend down the steep side to carve all the way down. That will get you going pretty fast. If you skid down the steep back side then you might go a bit slower. That will also screw you in the pow since pow + skiddin' don't mix.
I agree with the fun and challenge that whales add to a trail....... I am not sure how whales make a person slow down.
tromano, Look forward to your impressions of TL. The whales on OTW aren't just regular whales. These are battle scarred whales, barnacles (bumps) and big gouges from propellers (2-3' deep troughs) on their flanks. Some of them are 90 degrees to the others so where you think you'll find a hard head (steep face) you'll find another flank . Maybe you all can get together this weekend and give the Whales names, sort of like Chip did with the snowflakes earlier this year . Wish I could join you, have fun.
Save the Whales
These are not ordinary bumps. Many are 7+ feet tall. They have moguls carved on their sides. The moguls that do exist are VERY irregular. The first two runs down I kept getting tripped up at the same point where after the exit from one mogul, there was a tall spline vs another valley
Anyway, let us know what you think after you ski T-Line!
To correct on misconception...OTW was groomed the first two years it had snow on it. However after a fatality
they went to letting it bump up naturally. They didn't have snowmaking on OTW until last season, and had to pull hoses and electric from the drop, the ceiling, and salamander. I remember the bump contest being held on OTW in March one year when the drop was a groomed cruiser. Then, the management went to letting the drop bump up. It would be this year too if the weather would have cooperated earlier. OTW was left in whales after the installation of the "snow sticks". This past weekend, the bumps were either soft snow on the flats and bullet proof on the steeps.
All this will be different after the recent snowfall. I imagine even the drop will be open with the 20"
they have had since Sunday night. Got that info first hand from my son who has taken up residence in my condo at Timberline. He says it's gonna make white for another couple of days so.... if you ever had a reason to take a day or week, do it now! I just left too early. Something called work and the need to pay bills to support my skiing habit.
The moguls that do exist are VERY irregular.
That is a very common problem in the Mid-Atlantic, not just on OTW. Blame your fellow skiers and snowboarders for that.