The fiancee and I hit up Snowshoe last Sunday and Monday, and overall, had an excellent time.
Our plan was to drive up New Year's Eve, party at Snowshoe, then stay someplace off-mountain. That was complicated by a number of events, the primary two being that we wound up paintballing in Williamsburg earlier that day, and that the Marlinton Motor Inn wanted over $125 a night, both Saturday and Sunday night (normal rate is $50).
We wound up driving to Charlottesville and staying/partying there, then making the rest of the drive early New Year's day. This worked out well, as we paid about half what we would have for a room, and got to hang out in Charlottesville (which I've always liked).
Sunday (1/1) was an absolute Blue-Bird day. No wind, blue skies, sunshine, and maybe 35 degrees. No new snow since the previous Thursday, but they had been blowing and coverage was excellent on every slope. We skiied Widowmaker and Western Territory, and lift lines were not bad at all, even on Ballhooter. The snow was still a bit hard, and by the end of the day was getting skiied off in places, exposing lots of ice.
If Sunday was a 9/10, Monday was a 2/10. We woke up to pouring rain, and on the drive to the mountain from Bartow (the Hermitage Red Roof Inn, at $55 a night, I recommend it), I had the wipers on as fast as they could go, which still barely did the job. This was not a shower, but an absolute downpour.
Erin decided to hit up Starbucks and see if it would stop. After maybe 45 minutes, it had not slowed down, and the winds were easily blowing at 35mph. I decided to head out to the lifts, and she thought I was crazy. I suited up, this time grabbing my Arcteryx Sidewinder Hardshell (I'd been skiing in a softshell).
My first liftride was a little rough, as the water collected on my jacket, then poured, all at once, directly onto my crotch, where somehow it went right through the zipper, and my base layer, directly onto you-know-where. Imagine having a half-cup of icewater poured directly onto your crotch while you're sitting on a lift, completely unsuspecting. After taking preventive measures to keep water from pooling on my jacket, the lift rides worked out much better.
The weather went in and out all day, sometimes fogging way up, other times clearing up and the rain stopping for 20 minutes or so. However, the temp was not very cold (hence the rain), and the snow was very soft, making for surprisingly good skiing. Naturally, lift lines were non-existant.
A couple of other notes:
-Lower Shay's has bumps the size of Volkswagons, with whales on the sides of the run. The whales are steep enough, and icy enough, they are marked as closed, so you really have to ski down the moguls in the middle. On saturday, the ice made this pretty frustrating. On Sunday, they were much softer, and I could ski them top to bottom without stopping, even approaching zipperlining.
-Shoe crews seem to be grooming everything but lower shay's and knotbumper. This is too bad, as there were some nice moguls forming on upper Shay's on Saturday, but they were gone Sunday. Same goes for Choker.
-Knot Bumper was a mess both days, as those-who-can't-ski-bumps have been sideslipping it, carving huge trenches instead of forming moguls. With the deluge on Monday, the trenches were all dirt at the bottoms by the end of the day.
-Speaking of the rain Monday, it really did a job on their base, and they went from having great coverage to lots of bare spots on a number of runs. Really too bad, as 5 degrees colder and they would have gotten dumped on.
-I had a pretty negative experience trying to buy lift tickets Sunday morning. The whole process took my close to an hour (probably 45 min), which is ridiculous. There was one girl working, with another half dozen doing whatever in the back room. After 15 minutes of waiting in a short line that just wasn't moving, I was overcharged for my lift tickets. When we tried to explain the error, the girl kept saying that the price was set by the system. When I explained what the price should be, she didn't seem to understand that the system could be wrong. TotW has NO posted ticket prices, either on a board, or even in brochures available, so I couldn't prove my math. I asked for a manager, and had to argue with her for literall 15 minutes before she finally caved. If Snowshoe is going to advertise lift ticket prices in their season brochures and online, they better honor them at the window, even if their system says the price should be X. This wasted some of my ski time, and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, even thought I wound up paying the fair price.
-Resorts have let greed take over the "demo" programs, and have gotten way away from what the programs are meant to be. It used to be that "demo" skis were free, and are meant to be used as a way to try out a ski before buying it. This is still the case at "demo days". However, on a non "demo-day", Snowshoe charges $35 to "demo" a pair of skis, that's for a person who owns skis-boots-poles. While golf shops have started charging as well, it's more like $5 to demo a $500 driver for a week, as opposed to $35 to demo a $400 ski for one day. I paid it, as I really wanted to let Erin ski on skis we might be purchasing, but there's now zippy chance I'll be purchasing those skis from Snowshoe.
-With all the improvements the Shoe is making to their accomodations, I really wish they would upgrade TotW a little more. A dedicated ticket window (that doesn't check in resort guests), a changing room, and water fountains all seem like things every ski resort should have. The giant "Dasani" vending machine had a grand total of zero Dasani water bottles, and was filled with energy drinks.