Wisp Impressions and Pictures (long)
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shearer519
March 14, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004
149 posts
Well I took my first trip to wisp this past Friday (3-11-05) and was met with perfect conditions. I was taking advantage of the reduced 25 dollar lift ticket. Here are my impressions of the resort

Pros:
Nice modern lodge that was easy to move around
Parking right next to the slopes
Good snow coverage
Short lift rides to most slopes

Cons:
Slope layout
Long flat stretches on trails
Lack of intermediate terrain
Not many ways down the mountain consider the amount of trails they clam to have

Overall Wisp did not live up to my expectations. I'm sure it is a nice resort for a lot of other activities but the skiing there just seamed sub par to me. This is not because the conditions were bad they were actual the best I have skied since early Jan. But the trail layout really could use some more thought. the one thing that bothered me the most was the trails that went down to chair #5 basically to ski most of the runs that went down there you had to take two lifts to get back up. That is ridiculous for a resort with only 600 ft vert. Also there is too many flat areas on the mountain. They didn't really bother me when I was skiing but later that day when i switch to snowboarding it got very annoying very fast. If I took chair 3 to the mid station I would have to strap in to go about 100 yards then unstrap once I got to the flat area above Square Cage and The Face then skate over to the headwall and strap back in. Taking chair 1 would give me the option of walking basically to the midstation of chair 3 and repeating what I described above strait lining Muskrat so I could make it over a flat section to Boulder. Or heading down toward chair 5 where I would get stuck going through the tunnel. Basically wisp is a horrible place to go snowboarding. In conclusion Wisp looks like a great resort overall but not a very good place for a good skiing experience.

I took some pictures of the resort while I was there including my first tracks down the lower part of The Devil's Drop. (first time I ever got first tracks and I got them at 2pm no less) I posted these pictures on the Ski Shots website where you can check them out.
Wisp Ski Shots
JimK - DCSki Columnist
March 14, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,644 posts
Fair enough shearer. As a skier I'll agree that there are definitely some undesirable flats on that mtn and I'm sure I've failed to appreciate how bad they are for boarders. the thing wisp has going for it over some of the areas closer to DC (but maybe not closer to you) is superior snow conditions, smaller crowds, and pretty decent variety albeit in a somewhat awkward layout.
Good quality photos. Funny, your Mainstreet photo made it look super steep, your Devils drop photo made it look super easy.
Thanks for the report and Happy Trails.
RobertW
March 14, 2005
Member since 10/14/2004
199 posts
I agree with most of your list Shearer...just a few comments. I was at Wisp for a long weekend (my third in 3 years) on March 3-6. I had planned to do most of my skiing Thursday and Friday and for once the weather cooperated....Kaiser's Ridge was like the Tundra and we woke to 12"+ on Thursday. Conditions were, needless to say, terrific. Was practically alone on Thursday and still skiing untracked stuff well into Friday.

- I agree on the lack of intermediate terrain. The trail map lists 11 intermediate runs but Muskrat/Boulder to the lodge or Muskrat/Down Under to the Mainstreet chair (#5) are the only top-bottom runs. Boulder is flat to start and not very wide and can be a bowling alley even during the week. And if you take Down Under, you have to ride 2 chairs (#5 and #4) to get to the top.

- The top of this hill is flatter than Kansas and there are many flat areas scattered around. Being on a board here must be hell and the 2 board set has to do a lot of walking/skating as well. However, there are some nice runs to be found. Possum and Wisp Trail are 2 very pleasant beginner runs; winding, somewhat long and no flats. Main Street starts as a lower intermediate but turns into a nice sustained pitch with bumps on one side. I also found the unmarked (and closed :-)) cut under Chair #1, Devil's Drop and The Face fun, but with lots of flat to negotiate before dropping in. The wide, groomed Squirrel Cage made for some nice end-of-day runs.

- The new carpeted lodge is a big improvement over the old space but I just don't understand why they did not put in an entrance/exit closer to the tandem triple chairs (#2 and #3). The walk or skate from the entrance up a short incline and over to the lifts was hard on the older (and younger) members of my family.

The developers have not left themselves much room for expansion (or glades) as most of the hill on the Mainstreet side is crammed full of Condos and very expensive homes. (Near the bottom of Down Under, I found a short, steep powdered hillside that led into a condo parking lot :-)) The new trails on the Possum side of the mountain have been cut (seen from the top of Possum)and look interesting but short. The area itself is very well run and there is a lot to do. There are hundreds of beautiful homes that you can get for a great price in the winter (My parents, brother and our families have stayed in 3 wonderful homes these last 3 years ). However, the skiing here is part of the experience, not the sole reason to visit.
tromano
March 14, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
I grew up skiing wisp. The flat approaching squirrel cage is the only major flat on the hill (where you have to go up hill). All other traverses are at least on a minor down slope. The midstation used to be at the top of squirrel cage. This was a much better lay out as it provided people the opportunity to bypass the flats. Since wisp is soo small and short they are somewhat limited. They offer a lot of terrain considering the 600ft vertical (the same as roundtop). Considering the back side of the mountain is a self contained area and has atleast 2 slopes down it isn't that bad to have to take an additional lift to the top from that back side. There is no wait for that lift generally. Consider other areas like snow shoe expect you to walk form the basin to back sides... That said, I am surprised they haven't cut a trail down from highline pass. At least then they could save the cost of running that additional lift. Did wisp still have the T-Bar on the frontside for the terrian park?

I am not sure what you mean about lack of intermed terrain... It is strange to say the mountin is both too flat and too challenging. Nearly the whole mountain is intermediate terrain. Boulder run, down under, deer run, and all the upper mountain trails are intermediate trails. The only legit black diamons are the blacks on the front side and odin's chute. Main street, eye opener and the others are basicly blues. I assume that the coming expansion will add some interesting features to the hill's lay out and probbably more intermediate terrain.
RobertW
March 14, 2005
Member since 10/14/2004
199 posts
No T-Bar....It's a handle tow.

Is there a line from the Highline Pass trail? It seemed to me that the whole area between there and the front side is packed with Condos. The (new) expensive homes at the top account for why there is no trail from the top of Lift #1 to the top (or middle) of Mainstreet. I guess the lot sales paid a lot of bills though.

Those slightly inclined areas seem flatter with 12" of snow I guess
shearer519
March 14, 2005
Member since 07/12/2004
149 posts
Quote:

I also found the unmarked (and closed :-)) cut under Chair #1




I saw that run myself and thought about skiing it but then fear of getting my ticket clipped and unseen obstacles under the snow scared me away. When I first saw that run on Friday it was untracked but around 4-5 I saw that someone had gone down through it. That didn't happen to be you Robert

Quote:

I am not sure what you mean about lack of intermediate terrain... It is strange to say the mounting is both too flat and too challenging.




It is indeed an odd statement to make but in wisp's case i believe it to be true. if you look at the trail map you can see that there are really 2-3 decent blues. Beaver/Muskrat/Boulder, Down Under, Deer Run. I never got to Deer Run due to a nasty looking uphill at the end so I can't really comment on it. Everything else was either just a short pitch to a green trail or a green trail labeled a blue because that's all it led to. Muskrat could also be considered part of the later too. Hopefully the new trails they have planned will fix this problem.
Roger Z
March 15, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
I don't know if anyone here remembers, but when Wisp first built the Main Street trail, the ski maps for that area showed no less than two or three additional runs there, mostly on the lefthand side (if you're looking up the mountain), and Main Street was supposed to be extended futher up the hill. The first time I went there after Main Street was opened- in high school- I kept looking to see where exactly the runs would go. Even at that time it was difficult to figure out how to wedge a run inbetween all those condos.

Either Wisp figured that condos and new homes were more profitable and decided to go with those instead of the ski runs, or they never really intended to build those ski runs in the first place. It leaves me a little suspicious as to what we're actually going to get with the new terrain.

My most vivid memory of Wisp came a couple winters ago, when unloading at the top of the mountain there was a HUGE poster advertising... their terrain? No. Skiers safety code? No. A new real estate purchase opportunity? YES. That got me thinking that Wisp- and probably other mid-Atlantic resorts- value skiing as just one amenity to attract people to what is more or less a planned development. Most resorts at least have the decency to pretend otherwise... not here!
tromano
March 15, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
Roger, Most other resorts don't have the summer get away mecca that is deep creek lake. I am convinced that you are correct and that skiing is just one more part of their bag of tricks rather than the whole bag. Still, I guess I have a nostalgic link with wisp (like yours with cannnan) and I usually go one weekend a season. I am curious about what this expansion is goign to be as well. It looks pretty small on their trail map.
JR
March 15, 2005
Member since 01/1/2003
276 posts
Wisp was the first place I actually boarded a ski area. I learned one day at 7 springs but wasn't really good enough to move around the mountain. I guess I just kind of overlooked all of the flat areas. Since that was my first experience I guess I accepted it as the norm.

Here are some of the flats I've noticed but always just accepted there.

1. All of the trails that lead from the top to Boulder basically have a long flat before the sharp left hand turn back down the mountain. I've pushed many times here.

2. At the bottom of Boulder, if Chair 1 isn't open you have to find a way to make it all the way back over to the squirel cage chairs. I think I may have actually made it all the way over once without unstrapping but it was through a maze of beginners and involved alot of praying, leaning, and some parachuting using my coat.

3. Down Under has that wonderful traverse through the tunnel that every rental board user has to push through.

4. Possum is basically a short Salamander. You can make it pretty easy through here but when a beginner falls at the right spot they're pushin it.

5. Top of Squirel cage and Face.

The new mid stations being both set up at the top of all of the blues is great in my opinion. The old setup left them running only the riders left chair that let you off at the top of Face during the mid week. In order to get to the blue runs at the current mid stations you had to push forever from the peak down every weekday. Now, unless there is a ton of powder you can usually fly down Randals Run and either make it to the headwall or come really close to the headwall of Face/Squirel. The old station let you off a good ways from the headwall and you still had to push all the way to the headwall.

The chair 5 and 4 combo necessary to get from Main Street back to the summit is a necessary evil I guess. I wish you didn't have to push so far to get from the top of 5 to the entrance to 4. Thats another anoying traverse. I wonder why there is never a turn in a chirlift. For instance, why don't they have a midstation at the top of main street and then have the lift do a 90 degree turn and continue on over to the summit. They could eliminate one drive motor, 1 loading station with employees, and that terrible traverse. It'd also make it more reasonable to make Odin's Chute, Eye Opener, and Down Under laps. Now its just too annoying to do regularly. Me and my friends actually used to use a cutoff from Odins Chute to Boulder so we could run that run (which is quite nice, and just catch one lift back to the top of Odin. then again, if Chair 1 isn't open you have to traverse, lada lada lada.

The bottom line is, this place is a blast for its size and price. The traverses are quite annoying but just wax up that board and keep the speed for the traverses and you'll probably be fine, unless theres 12" everywhere. Then you'll have to work hard but you'll still be grinning ear to ear when you finally get to Devils Drop
RobertW
March 15, 2005
Member since 10/14/2004
199 posts
Quote:

I saw that run myself and thought about skiing it but then fear of getting my ticket clipped and unseen obstacles under the snow scared me away. When I first saw that run on Friday it was untracked but around 4-5 I saw that someone had gone down through it. That didn't happen to be you Robert




Unfortunately no. I was there the week before. I skied it Thursday the 3rd after the 3 days of snow. It was later in the afternoon, nobody was around or on the lift and I don't have a season pass there so what the hell and I didn't even find any unseen obstacles
RobertW
March 15, 2005
Member since 10/14/2004
199 posts
Quote:

I am curious about what this expansion is goign to be as well. It looks pretty small on their trail map.




You can see some of the new trails from the top of Possum. They are rough cut and look interesting. Not sure of the length though as I could not see them (or did not notice them) from any other vantage point.
tommo
March 15, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
303 posts
Quote:

Basically wisp is a horrible place to go snowboarding. In conclusion Wisp looks like a great resort overall but not a very good place for a good skiing experience.




While Wisp has it's shortcomings (most notably the small vertical), I believe your overall conclusion is way harsh. To review, you had **feet** of fresh snow on a deep, deep base. You paid $25 for a lift ticket, parked by the lodge, enjoyed new, top quality lifts, saw no lift lines, and experienced excellent all around service. And the scenery is pretty good. That doesn't sound too bad to me!

Being critical of the "flats" when there is a foot of new snow is unreasonable. The only areas that cannot be easily glided over in most conditions are the tunnel at Down Under and, arguably, the small incline to the crest of Devil's Drop and Face. With deep new snow, you would have the same problem (or worse) at the top of Seven Springs, numerous places at Snowshoe, several spots at TLine, the top of Liberty, etc... Point is, the local terrain is just not tall enough to limit some flat areas.

As to some of the trail complaints, they do lack for blue runs to the base. Most lower intermediates are intimidated by Squirrel Cage and tend to go to Boulder, which, as mentioned can become a bowling alley. The connector lift from the base of Main Street is no problem - ski down either Down Under or Eye Opener, and then yo yo on lift 5 skiing Main Street and Highline/Eye Opener until you tire of the east side. Then ride the connector lift back to the top. Plus, even if you unload and go to the connector, since there is never a line there, is the 100 Ft between the two lifts really that big a deal?

As to the trail layout not supporting a link from, say, the turn at Boulder straight down to the base of Mainstreet, yes there are condos there, but you couldn't have much of a ski trail there anyway - its almost a direct south face and the sun quickly eats away at the snow and, with snow making, would create an ice highway.

Wisp may not be the tallest ski hill around, but I would argue that they provide a consistently excellent experience for most visitors. I know we have taken at least 50 people there over the years and I think they have all had a great time. Heck, your (very good, by the way) pictures look pretty darn good! Saying it is horrible for boarding and not a very good place for skiing is just wrong.
tommo
March 15, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004
303 posts
My wife just read this and says I should just let the post stand so that maybe it'll keep people away ...especially all those blasted snowboarders
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