Wisp Report
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Roger Z
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Just got back from a two day skiing trip to Wisp with my girlfriend, who had never skied before. In all, I'd have to rate Wisp as one of my favorite Mid-Atlantic ski resorts.

First day- two inches of new lake effect snow on top of a solid 1-1 1/2 feet of natural snow and, of course, mountains of manmade everywhere. Devil's Drop was absolutely delectable. Me and one other guy were carving it up all morning. Devil's Drop really is a classic east coast ski run- narrow, hidden entrance in the woods that opens up onto a relatively steep slope that has multiple fall lines and options for skiing. It's as good as advanced skiing gets in the Mid-Atlantic, maybe not the steepest run around but it has character, options, and is testy.

Next door, the glade trail was in great shape, too. I've nicknamed it "Devil's Sidekick." It's not officially on the map but the fact that there were "caution" signs and it was obviously cleared of underbrush says that Wisp acknowledges it as a trail.

Now, as far as the North Camp goes- I have to disagree with every post I've seen so far on this board and say that North Camp ROCKS. The two intermediate runs are solid, lower-middle intermediate runs with nice rolls in it and fill a desperate void at Wisp. Prior to the installation of these two runs, Wisp had NO fall line intermediate skiing. I was GSing those two runs on my new shaped skis and having an absolute blast. My biggest complaint is that they should be twice as long- but obviously they can't be, God just didn't make the mountain that large. The beginner and novice skiing back there turned out to be perfect for my girlfriend. It was her first good trip off the beginners slope and having over a mile to cruise gradually down the hill was just what she needed to get her confidence up. I think North Camp is an outstanding addition to Wisp and am looking forward to the next phase of their expansion as well.

The second day, The Face was by far the best skiing on the mountain. They had been blowing snow on it all night and skiing down it was "east coast freshies" : lots of very, very nice manmade powder that was easy to carve into. Obviously it wasn't the same as out west but boy was it soft and forgiving.

I also figured out how Devil's Drop and Devil's Sidekick manage to get open with so little natural snow (a foot or so isn't much, after all): a lot of snow blows right in from The Face. I knew that about the glade, but there was a few inches of new snowmaking on Devil's Drop too. So although the two runs don't technically have snowmaking, they obviously benefit from being right next door to Wisp's high powered snowguns (that's probably a decent idea for other ski resorts- MPC perhaps- to think about for establishing glades).

My chief complaint with Wisp is the lifts. They should really think about upgrading a couple lifts to high speed quads. It's not because it takes a while to get up the mountain, but rather because there's so many beginners using the lifts that they are constantly slowing down and stopping. If they had some detachable lifts in place, they could take care of almost all their slowdowns and stoppages and keep their lifts running more efficiently. Also, the most harrowing off-ramp on the whole mountain is the new novice quad chair on the North Camp. Who's idea was it to put the steepest off-ramp on the novice lift??? By comparison, the less used, more advanced chairs have virtually no off-ramp at all.

Also, I don't like all the sprawl around the Main Street lift, but these things happen I suppose. Hopefully they won't repeat that mistake on North Camp, but nothing in their master plan suggests they will.

All in all, I think Wisp is a great place. They have enough terrain now that you can make a solid weekend out of the place, and when they get their next phase completed I could imagine a three day trip there pretty easily. I like the North Camp area a lot, it has a great mix of terrain, and a lot of different sides to explore. Overall, it was a great trip!
KevR
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I've enjoyed the moguls that have formed in the past off of main street, skier's right...

And then in the middle, that short run through the ungroomed 'canyon' area... (whatever it is called) can be fun with enough snow, in addition to the DD area, and da'Face, etc...

I think really, Wisp gets a huge boost from their natural snow fall, it really makes a noticable difference...
jimmy
December 21, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Hey RogerZ, You've been on quite a tour lately. Good report and did you get to enjoy any apres activities while at wisp, u know me, first things first . I agree the lift situation is still the weak link at Wisp, but when i was there i they were still working the bugs out i think.

So u hokies still gonna make it up to tline to collect on our bet Jan 6?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 21, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,923 posts
Roger:

Thanks for the report. I really need to make it up to Wisp, but I just can't seem to get away from the LINE. Once I am there, I am happy and don't want to drive anywhere.
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Roger Z
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Jimmy- gotta git while the gittin' is good here in the Mid-Atl. Plus, since I'm going to Flori-DUH for Christmas, a little time in the snow is a must. And no, I'm not going for the football game. And yes, I need to talk with my hokie compatriot (I know you're reading this Murph) to see on Jan 6th- depends on the weather and how badly I've broken the bank this Christmas and things like that.

John- T-line is the better of the two hills because of the terrain, but checking Wisp out once would be good.

Criminy, I've got to go pack for this trip down to the sub-tropics. Anyone wanna go spend Christmas with my family for me? I'd rather be skiing... first things first ya know...
JohnL
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Quote:

Now, as far as the North Camp goes- I have to disagree with every post I've seen so far on this board and say that North Camp ROCKS.




In addition to Jim K's article, there have been numerous posts on these boards stating that North Camp is a very nice addition for intermediates and is some fun cruising terrain.

Quote:

Next door, the glade trail was in great shape, too. I've nicknamed it "Devil's Sidekick." It's not officially on the map but the fact that there were "caution" signs and it was obviously cleared of underbrush says that Wisp acknowledges it as a trail.




That is a very nice section of the mountain. But the trees are so thinned out, it's almost stretching it to call it glades. (Similar to several runs at Jay Peak among other places.) But the lack of trees certainly increases the amount of man-made snow that is blown onto that section and Devil's Drop, as you've stated. In this case, I'll take the better coverage.
Roger Z
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Quote:

But the trees are so thinned out, it's almost stretching it to call it glades.




I think we're gonna have to agree to disagree about what constitutes a glade then, John. Certainly you can have thicker woods and still have a glade, but apart from one open hole at the bottom (which you can ski around and stay in the trees), I think the amount of thinning that they did is just about right for a tree skiing run. Apart from aspen groves, that's pretty much the spacing you find on a lot of forested runs on the east and the west, including the new glades at T-line.
JohnL
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Quote:

Apart from aspen groves, that's pretty much the spacing you find on a lot of forested runs on the east and the west, including the new glades at T-line.




If you can safely do GS turns through it, it's tough to call it glades. Most of my loops through there were spent trying to find the tighest line possible to make if feel more wooded.

Still, a very fun face, and sure beats an open slope.
Murphy
December 21, 2005
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
Quote:

Jimmy- gotta git while the gittin' is good here in the Mid-Atl. Plus, since I'm going to Flori-DUH for Christmas, a little time in the snow is a must. And no, I'm not going for the football game. And yes, I need to talk with my hokie compatriot (I know you're reading this Murph) to see on Jan 6th- depends on the weather and how badly I've broken the bank this Christmas and things like that.

John- T-line is the better of the two hills because of the terrain, but checking Wisp out once would be good.

Criminy, I've got to go pack for this trip down to the sub-tropics. Anyone wanna go spend Christmas with my family for me? I'd rather be skiing... first things first ya know...




Despite all my groveling I can't go that weekend. I even tried to play the sympathy card being as I spent my only ski day so far this year in bed sick . But the wife has to work that weekend and I'll be home with the kids.

However, I have permission to go the following weekend. You free that weekend Jimmy? Roger?
Roger Z
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Quote:

If you can safely do GS turns through it, it's tough to call it glades.




Are you and I talking about the same terrain? If you can safely do GS turns through the area I'm thinking of, you've got some seriously mad skilz.

Just to make sure we're on the same page: the trees that sit in-between The Face and Devil's Drop is the area I'm referring to. The chairlift sits to the skiers right of this whole area: that is, the line under the chairlift is *not* Devil's Drop. Devil's Drop is an open area to the left of the chair and, if there weren't moguls on it, you could clearly do GS turns on it. I'd estimate that the trees in-between Devil's Drop and Face have 8-10 foot breaks in-between them with many narrower areas (some of which were significantly narrower than my 168 cm skis) and are pretty randomly distributed. There's an opening toward the bottom but even that's about 20-25 feet wide, and there's tree lines on either side that you can ski if you want to avoid it, plus there's a sapling or two in that open area.

A GS turn, in my book, would have at minimum a 20-25 foot radius, so linking two GS turns would require a diameter of 40-50 feet- at a minimum.

Is this the same area you are referring to and do you have the same idea about GS turns in mind?
Reisen
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/25/2005 🔗
364 posts
Just got back from Wisp after spending the day there. It was my first time at Wisp, and only my third East Coast resort (the other two being Whitetail and Snowshoe. Overall, I'd give it a C-, being pulled up from a D by very friendly staff.

Specifically, you are spot on about the lifts. My first impression was that everything just looked...old. Rusty lights, slow lifts, rusty signs, actually, small signs (runs were not clearly marked at all). In 7 hours of skiing, not once did I ever ride a lift that didn't stop at a minimum of three times. Considering how short some of those lifts are, that's almost hard to do. Doubly hard considering there were only two or three times the lift had a line beyond one or two chair-fulls. I was amazed that even on the lift above Main Street, the lift still stopped multiple times every ride. That lift serves nothing but blacks, and I'm sorry, but if you're skiing a black slope, you should be able to board and get off a lift properly. This was compounded by the slow speed of the lifts (no high speeds detachables), and the cold wind blowing on you while you're waiting. I also agree that many of the off-ramps were out of whack.

As for North Camp, I ventured over there, but really didn't get anything out of it. All I can say is flat, flat, flat. Not the vertical, but the runs. No undulation, I could have just as well been ice skating. The black is too short to be of use. Add to that the wind is much worse over there, and the lifts just as slow.

All in all, I just felt the mountain had little to offer an advanced skier. Devil's Drop was closed (despite being listed as open on the snow report), so I didn't get to experience the one trail that looked challenging. No bumps to speak of anywhere on the mountain.

I know this sounds like a lot of complaining, but I guess Wisp just doesn't have the vert I'm craving. Even still, I feel they could easily improve what they do have by not grooming most of the blacks and letting them bump up, and by upgrading their lifts. Whitetail has a high-speed quad, and their expert's choice lift seems to run much faster than the Wisp lifts (maybe because it doesn't stop?).

For expert skiing in the MA, I haven't found a challenger to snowshoe's western territory yet, and that's not even counting some of their other black runs (choker, Knot Bumper).
fishnski
December 21, 2005
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
See ya in FL MrZ..This will be my 1st year that FL(Go every X-Mas/New year) Will not seem so bad after 2 ski trips,1 to Wisp & 1 to Timberline.+ after seeing 2 blizzards & a couple half foot storms up at the Valley. I'm Glad Wisp is there but I cannot wait till they finish with that hill & start turning thier attention to Tory MOUNTAIN...Hopefully...I'm Tired of overdeveloped hills...I will suggest that a MOUNTAIN must be at least 3000' in elevation with at least a 1000' verticle rise....That leaves Wisp & maryland out of the loop.PA would only have Blueknob as a ski Mountain...Elk would be close...West va is the last frontier for ski mtn's...We are not getting any younger!
tommo
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
RogerZ, I'm with you on this...there is no way that ANYONE is going to do "GS turns" through the trees between devils drop and Face. Maybe one or two, but then it would be eat a tree time! A GS course has about 60 gates on about a 1200 ft vertical race course. Those trees, as you mentioned, are only about 10 feet apart, so ain't gonna be too many GS turns through there

As for the lifts, I don't know what you guys are talking about. 6 of their 7 lifts are brand spanking new CTEC lifts installed within the last 3 years. They may not be detachable quads, but they are otherwise brand new, variable speed fixed grip lifts from one of the most reputable companies in the world.

Reisen, I'm curious as to what you expected from Wisp? It was cold and that's a complaint? Yes, it was cold the last few days, with highs in the teens. And the wind was blowing. Oh my. Would you like them to heat the frigging slope too? As to the expansion area, I don't think anyone has suggested that it has the vertical or the challenge of the Western Territory at Snowshoe, which is why the slopes are greens and blues, which are nice cruising runs for many people. As to the lack of bumps, well, they JUST opened mainstreet the other day and have been blowing like crazy all week. That pretty much requires that the slope be groomed if you want to ski on it. By the weekend, there will be serious bumps on Face and Mainstreet, and Face will likely remain ungroomed for most of the winter. As to DD being closed - the tape at the top is always there to prevent the many lesser skilled riders from venturing onto a slope where they could get hurt. The usual route is to start from the right side of the top of the Face and cut through the trees. That tends to keep people off that part of the hill. And, for the record, the Mainstreet lift also serves the blue Down Under slope. Why the lifts were stopping, I don't know, but it seems likely due to people falling; There certainly is no plan to stop the lifts just to annoy the customers.

I'm not trying to be a shill for Wisp, but c'mon - you're flaming the mountain because it was cold and snowy and their blue terrain isn't hard enough??????? Or because the fixed snowmaking towers are rusted????? Or 'cause the lift is stopped when people fall??? Unfortunately, there really isn't any expert terrain in the mid-atlantic, with the possible, marginal exception of the trees at Timberline. But that comes with the too-frequent occurance of getting stuck on an actually broken lift for a couple of hours on any given weekend....
jimmy
December 21, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:

Quote:

Jimmy- gotta git while the gittin' is good here in the Mid-Atl...... I'd rather be skiing... first things first ya know...




Despite all my groveling I can't go that weekend. I even tried to play the sympathy card being as I spent my only ski day so far this year in bed sick . But the wife has to work that weekend and I'll be home with the kids.

However, I have permission to go the following weekend. You free that weekend Jimmy? Roger?




Roger roger, ur right gettin's been good so far got my eye on double digits b/4 new year.

Murphy that always confused me too, u know whether it's better to ask for permission or beg for forgiveness. I'm free every weekend only question is where i'll be..
KevR
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Well, let's be realistic, the west typically is blessed with mounds of soft snow in the trees... and the tree areas run the gamut as well, some open, some tight, and so forth. Wisp just doesn't have the ingredients to make what is offered any more than what it is... I don't even know why anyone would argue the point... it is what it is, and what it is -- is not offered locally all that much.
JohnL
December 21, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
I think GS turns through the trees has replaced da whales as the latest DCSki controversy.

That section is so open you can take numerous lines through it at very high speed - not sure if every turn would count as a GS turn, but there'd be plenty of wide turns in the mix. Maybe GS turns is an exaggeration, maybe not, guess it depends upon your point of view. But I'll sleep well tonight. My main point is this: that section is plenty of fun, but the trees are widely spaced and probably over-thinned, and not too challenging. (When in mid-season form or even rusty early-season form.)

Safety caveat: even with the spacing of the trees being so great, I wouldn't ski any route near trees at high speed until I was very, very confident that the snow depth was sufficient to cover any hidden debris, roots, etc. Once I was confident of the cover, let 'em rip.

Other caveat: I wouldn't think of attempting high-speed turns in any of the challenging tree runs I've skied. Respect the mountain and what may happen.

As you said, there is an opening straight down the middle which is 20-25 feet wide sans trees. That's pretty wide for a "glade". Plenty of wide-open lines to choose from. Even on only the third day of the season, I was avoiding the obvious easy lines.

Challenge for you Mr. Z. Hook up with Crush and me for some adventures in Utah this March. There's a whole 'nother world beyond shaped skis...
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
December 21, 2005
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,359 posts
Reisen - I agree that the North Camp slopes are too smooth. I like natural undulations on a slope, it makes it more interesting. They look like they used a interstate highway curve to design the slope profile. That said, they weren't bad for blue cruisers in the Mid-Atlantic. I am 52 years old and have used up all the bumps that my knees were alotted when I was born. Bumps are for the young who don't care about their anterior cruciate ligament.
As far as rusty chairs, they were all galvanized steel from what I saw. All I can say is this is all we have here in the Mid-Atlantic. Snowshoe is a 5.5 hour drive and not worth the effort in my opinion. Mt. Snow, VT (1,700' of real vert) is a 7 hour drive. You might want to give it a try
JimK - DCSki Columnist
December 22, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,721 posts
Reisen: you have many valid points. Quite a few awkward flats at Wisp, and no doubt Wisp is a mostly very mellow mtn. Those beginner connector trails to North Camp are going to be a long slog on warm days when snow is slow.

The three big things that Wisp has going for it are: incredible snowmaking capacity, lots of terrain, and generally smaller crowds.

I don't get too hung up on lift technology in MA because the rides are so short anyway, but incessant stops aren't fun. Maybe they're still working early season kinks out of eqmt, maybe you caught a bad day with a lot of beginners on the lifts?

You were lucky to catch Mainstreet not long after it opened for the season. It provides an advanced skier with more exercise than Devils Drop. I wonder if Wisp will let Over the Edge bump-up? It's the new easy black in North Camp. Some bumps would make it more interesting, like what they do for Bold Decision or Exhibition at Whitetail.

For some MA challenge try Blue Knob, PA sometime in February when it has some decent natural snow coverage.
JohnL
December 22, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Reisen,

I've only skied Wisp this past Dec 11, but I've driven by it before. From the driveby, the trails overlooking the lake (Main Street et al) were very bumped up. This was quite evident, even from the distance of the road.

It's pretty early in the season for any appreciable bumps to have formed (not enough skier traffic and not enough base.) Have any trails bumped up in the Mid-Atlantic yet? Exhibition at Whitetail did not have any moguls on it this past Sunday (12/18).
queenoftheslopes
December 22, 2005
Member since 11/15/2004 🔗
143 posts
Goosebumps and Stow trail at 7 springs have some pretty good bumps on them. (at least in my opionion)
KevR
December 22, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
RogerZ/JohnL -- when will you be in Utah? I will be out there the last weekend Feb/first of March in big cottonwood area (although we are likely to try all the big/little resorts each)... anyway, while its unlikely you'd enjoy skiing much with me, my friends on the hand who really CAN ski might enjoy some company... and they like da'trees... almost exclusively.
Roger Z
December 22, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
High speed is very different than GS turns, John. A lot of people can hammer some rapid high speed turns in even the narrowest aspen glades out west; that doesn't make them overly thinned. Similarly, a lot of experts can ski moguls at 15 mph or more, but that doesn't make it a bad mogul field. Speed is pretty relative. Maybe I was skiing the Wisp trees rapidly, maybe not... in general I don't think I ski very rapidly down anything. Speed ain't my thing. Also, there were moguls in there when I was skiing those trees, so you have lines being demarcated by trees and moguls. In pure powder conditions the trees would probably seem a little spacier (but still nowhere near GS turning), but when you add moguls and glades together things tighten up pretty quickly.

Nonetheless, I think this is an excellent example of how perceptions get in the way of what might otherwise be an "objective" report. I'd estimate the trees at about 10 feet apart; Tommo estimated them at 15 feet, and you think they're GS potential skiing in them. Goes to show that the best thing anyone who reads these posts can do is go see for themselves!

I'll be in Park City in early March, and would be happy to have a tour around The Canyons.
JohnL
December 22, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Quote:

I'd estimate the trees at about 10 feet apart; Tommo estimated them at 15 feet, and you think they're GS potential skiing in them.




It's all about line choice. Plan a route in advance, and keep looking well downhill. If you're looking four feet in front of your skis (as most skiers do), you'll end up as tree fertilizer.

Have you ever skied GS turns through the bumps? That drill was always a staple of the X-Team clinics. Similar skills are involved, with dynamic absorption also thrown in. A trail with a pitch like that of Exhibition is a good choice.
Roger Z
December 22, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
I look ahead- not a problem there. One thing I enjoy is being forced to switch things up halfway down a run because of an unseen object- for instance, a rock hanging out on the downside of a mogul. I like being able to adjust and continue without losing the rhythm of the run. Sometimes easier than others. Never have done GS turns through moguls... sounds interesting! Maybe if we're out in Park City at the same time you could run me through the routine once or twice.
KevR
December 22, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
As far the The Canyons -- skied it half-day last year at the end of a trip. Ninety-niner 90 looked interesting ... however I am fairly sure we still stay in the big/little cottonwoods...

Wisp on the hand... yeah a good skier, someone that feel at home on steep mogul runs, carving their way down (vs tumbling like me), could easily make mince meat of them "glades" there, I think.
JohnL
December 23, 2005
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Quote:

RogerZ/JohnL -- when will you be in Utah? I will be out there the last weekend Feb/first of March in big cottonwood area (although we are likely to try all the big/little resorts each)... anyway, while its unlikely you'd enjoy skiing much with me, my friends on the hand who really CAN ski might enjoy some company... and they like da'trees... almost exclusively.




Six of us are going to Park City Mar 1 (arrive evening) to Mar 8. I'm staying a few days extra in SLC, flying out late Mar 11. My group is a mixtures of hard-cores and laid-back intermediates, skiers and boarders. Can't ski hard 10 days in a row, so several of the days will be laid-back, two hour lunch, catch some rays, cruise the groomers days. Other days will be pedal to the metal.

We'll have to PM each other closer to the trip. Sounds like several of us will be out there at the same time.
KevR
December 23, 2005
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
OK i sent RogerZ an email -- I have his email, does he have yours? anyway -- I can recommend Antelope Island as a possible diversion for a day (or part of one) -- should the weather be good. I am envious of your 10 day trip, but we are there quite a bit less, as it stands now...
Roger Z
December 23, 2005
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
I'm heading out on March 4th for a week with my folks at Park City. Am planning on getting the Silver Pass- which resort is the least crowded on the weekend (since our first day will be Sunday)? I'm guessing Deer Valley so might be there on Sunday to try to avoid lift lines as much as possible.

Crush and I have discussed meeting up at The Canyons a little later in the week (so I can get my skills up a little- it's been two years since I've been out west). KevR- no worries about hangin' out in the Cottonwoods. There's great skiing over there and you won't be disappointed! But for those of us not in the world's greatest greatest snow , we should plan a rendezvous at Canyons or Park City and- perhaps if you can get a ride Kev- we could meet in Park City for dinner sometime!

Oh, I guess since I started this thread I don't mind hijacking it, but maybe this isn't in good form...
jimmy
December 23, 2005
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
maybe not good form but a post is a post is a post, since we're on the subject of Utah in March, we'll be out there 3/3-3/10, not too good with advance planning as far as where/when but the group had a grate time w/crush last year, we'll get hooked up, usually just takes a day or two advance notice for "EL Crusho".

edit for KevR....JohnL & Crush enjoy skiing with most anyone, don't pass up a chance to have some fun . DCSki gathering in utah would be pretty fun.

We'll probably hit alta first day, my mates really enjoyed watching me get my ass kicked there last year, best to get some humility early in the week.
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