From Chesapeake, the most accessible areas to the West for you are 1) Wintergreen, 2) Massanutten, and 3) Snowshoe. Wintergreen is "old money" (has its own Per Diem rate for the Government), nicely groomed slopes, and the best part: The blues, blacks and greens are more or less distinctly separated. As far as the steepness, I will tell you that their Black Runs are probably good Blues. It is not, not does it intend to be, Bridger Bowl or even Stowe. However, you can certainly have a very good time at Wintergreen.
Massanutten: I found the slopes a bit steeper and challenging than Wingergreen... if you can put up with overcrowding and rude people. Both in terms of development of the land and the clientele, it loses. As Intrawest has artificially "upscaled" Snowshoe by jacking up the price of lift tickets and lodging, Massanutten has been the recipient of some of the crowd and my last time in Massanutten, I swore it would be my last. Even their slopes are named for remnants of the Confederacy, giving it a redneck flavor throughout...
Snowshoe (almost 6 hours) has the most terrain and if you look at Lower Shay's, it is definitely a double black, although the front side of Snowshoe is comprised of amiable blues.
An hour North of Snowshoe you can also find Canaan and Timberline, both quite nice and in the case of Timberline, has more challenging terrain than much of Snowshoe although a little bit on the vertical side.
If you can stomach the 7-hour haul, I found that Blue Knob near Altoona PA has some tree-filled double blacks that will impress anyone. The entire resort is only Blues and Blacks, so if you come with friends that expect the greenies, you will bore them. The Extrovert Trail is a Sony Bono in the making with trees all over the place and a scary steep. IF they have a good snow cover, you can have a blast. Blue Knob is an undiscovered paradise although the infrastructure is not as well developed.
If slope difficulty and snow quality is what you are after, definitely you'll need to hack the 6-7 hour drive to Snowshoe or Canaan Valley. As others have explained on this forum, you really need to get to the west side of the Alleghenies to get reliably good snow and occasional powder. And look at it this way: compared to Sierra Cement, the (occasional) powder here could seem dry!
P.S. My skis were right next to me through the whole storm! It was pretty tough, a lot worst then expected. On the bright side, it's almost to rip!!!
I make a few weekend trips per year to southern Vermont which is a 7-8 hour drive, and worth the drive.
I checked out the resorts trailmaps that were mentioned and Blue Knob and Timberline both have glades So I guess that will be cool...At this point I will settle for what I can get....
But I think that this site is great and it seems like the members here are really cool and helpful..Thanks!
The toughest in-bounds terrain I've seen in recent years in the East was the Castlerock area of Sugarbush, VT. Many resorts in New England have some decent challenging terrain, even for cliff jumpers.
A lot of people think this, but take a look at Topozone: For the record, WT's slopes go from approx. NE-facing (the neverever slopes) through ENE (the main green slope) to approx SE (most of the blues and blacks). Only the very bottoms of the blue and black slopes to the right (looking up the mtn) of their respective lifts actually curve all the way around to S-facing.
While WT's orientation certainly could be better, its not as if the average orientation for the entire trail system was due south and slopes ranged from SE all the way around to SW-facing.
Tom / PM
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 09-30-2003).]
The photographer at my wedding born and raised in CO. Moved here. Became buddies. I tooking him to Whitetail. He (deservedly) bashed it when he saw it. On his third run he hit some ice, went down, broke his collar bone.
Oh well - I snapped mine the next year at Killington.