I've heard that Intrawest Ski Corp. tried to buy Blue Knob
I've heard from a reliable source a rumor that Intrawest (the owner of Snowshoe, Whistler and other major ski resorts) recently entertained the idea of purchasing Blue Knob. However, the current owners of BK (who are from Reston, VA) wanted something like 7 million $ for the place. If Intrawest had purchased Blue Knob, they would have (likely) done the following: rebuild BK's infastructure from the ground up (not to mention the building of new lodge(s), facilities etc.), and conduct a major environmental clean-up/erosion control effort. Also, the so-called "glades" and Stembogan Bowl would have to be cleaned up, including removal of the logging waste and large stumps. Given that the price tag to make Blue Knob competitive again would be at least 15 to 20 million $, it's not surpising that someone isn't willing to pay 7 million $ for the place. Although the large commercial logging operation at BK (completed about 3 years ago) brought the owners of BK major $, it did a lot of damage (in the opinion of many) and has now made BK VERY difficult to sell. Too bad, because, as many DC skiers know, BK had tremendous potential.
What's wrong with Reston, VA? I live near there. Lot's of posters on DCSki live closer to Reston than Blue Knob.
I'm not so certain that Intrawest buying Blue Knob is a better or worse for the environment. With an Intrawest purchase, you could expect a lot of real estate development at Blue Knob. A lot more trees would be chopped down to build condos et al than were chopped down for the glades.
I wouldn't mind some clean-up in the glades, but otherwise, I like Blue Knob just the way it is. It's nice to have some destination resorts in the Mid-Atlantic (Snowshoe, Seven Springs, etc.), but it's just as nice to have some local ski areas like BK.
John, no one has said that there is anything wrong with Reston, VA. Merely an observation was made in the post. So, why do you ask such a question? As far as Intrawest buying BK goes; if they bought the mountain, yes there would be development but it would be done in an environmentally friendly way. And the eroded areas would be improved so that Big Lick Branch, and South Poplar Run (both of which are located just below the loading areas of the #1 and #2 lifts) wouldn't flow brown with silt after even a moderate rain (which is currently the situation at BK).
You and your friend Snow Skier have been highly critical of Blue Knob's management and have both parenthetically referred to the owner as being a resident of NoVa/Reston. I find the comments a bit odd. Why is it important to mention where someone lives?
WRT to the so-called environmentally friendly development that Intrawest would pursue. As a publicly-traded(?) corporation, they certainly have deeper pockets than the current owner and would be able to afford to finance larger construction/soil grading projects. However, what makes you think that Intrawest would fund some of the reconstruction projects that you envision?
Intrawest's business model is to develop large-scale base villages (and accompanying housing) @ the ski areas they own. See Snowshoe and Tremblant as good examples. Currently, there is practically no development @ Blue Knob. I fail to see how construction of new buildings at Blue Knob will improve the health of the environment.
Intrawest would most certainly widen existing trails and cut new trails if they purchased Blue Knob. It wouldn't surprise me that the current glades would be totally cleared of trees and converted to normal trails.
Seems to me the Intrawest "solution" may very well be worse than the current problem.
It is hard to imagine that new condos can be good for the environment. However, development can be done in such a way that the overall "footprint" can be nuetral or even net positive - if infrastructure is corrected/done correctly (drainage, water treatment, garbage/recycling, energy efficiency, etc.) and new development is offset by things like protection and restoration of surrounding areas, wildlife protection, public environmental education, supporting special areas and wilderness designations, supporting the fight against MTR, etc. Intrawest is working on an ISO certification at SS for environmental policy and management. Thier work at Whistler is impressive, much of which was motivated by the Olympic requirement for a "sustainable" business model. Hopefully what they have learned from that experience can be passed onto WV.
John, It's no big deal that the current owners of Blue Knob are from Reston, VA, but it's simply noteworthy because there's a link from BK to the DC area and, of course, this site IS about DC area skiing and DC skiers. The current situation at BK is such that the Glades and Stembogan Bowl (with the exception being a few of the short glades between Jack Rabbit and Expressway) can't be skied anymore (for all practical purposes). An outfit like Intrawest would clean these areas up by removing the piles of logging waste and stumps. Also the erosion problems would be stopped by the placement of water bars and seeding. Furthermore, Intrawest would remove all of the trash and debris that has been thrown in the streams (just below the lifts), which include: discarded snowmaking pipes, tires, old electrical conduit, chemical barrels and old restaurant equipment. The trade-off would probably be that more condos would be built by the new owner of BK. However, most of the large valuable trees have already been removed from the North side of BK (ski area side) by the massive commercial logging operation, which took over 3 years and logged nearly 1500 acres. So, if more condos were built, it's unlikely that any large semi-old growth trees (80 to 120 years old) would be removed as they were already taken by the logging operation. But, don't take my word for any of this, go up and ski BK and form your own opinion(s) and if possible hike the North side of the mountain in the off-season. Keep in mind, that BK falls within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and part of the ski slopes were donated from the US Park Service to PA (again, another link to the DC area).
Stembogan Bowl is perfectly skiable. I ski it every year and skied it last year.
And I have formed my own opinion by skiing Blue Knob every winter. Besides some rocks/logs in some of the glades, I haven't noticed any of the problems that you've mentioned.
JohnL, I hiked Stembogan Bowl this weekend, the ENTIRE bowl has grown up in briars and saplings as high as 15 feet due to all the rain that fell in Central PA the past spring and summer. The only way that you could ski the Stembogan Bowl now would be to ski a narrow path along the far right-hand side (facing down-hill), which is the path the original slope followed prior to the formation of the Bowl. However, this path has been heavily used by 4-wheelers and mountain bikers and, because there aren't any water-bars and no seeding has been done, it has eroded and is covered with rocks. There will have to be plenty of snow to adequately cover this area. As far as the other glades go, with the exception of the very short glades between Jack Rabbit and Expressway, the glades will seldom be skiable this winter unless BK gets a very large snowfall this ski season. Many of the glades are so overgrown with dense brush that you can't even find them (I know, I took a look last week-end) and the steepest glades have some serious erosion problems combined with many downed trees and branches due to recent (70mph) wind storms and hurricane Isabel.
I'll let you know what the conditions are like this coming winter and compare them to previous winters' conditions.
I skied Stembogan Bowl last season. It was very skiable. not many rocks or large logs / stumps. Its wide open. The only problems were over gown bushes all along the edge. All they need to do is run a lawn mower over that before it snows to keep it from poking up so high. As it was the bushes were broken down from being skiied on and they are soft(not woody)and didn't harm my skis.
Update. It appears that some one else may have more updated info (steve). I was last there as of February 2003. I still think that briars and other soft plants will die away in the cold / cleared easily be getting run over with a tractor and not be an issue. We will see later on this winter if they do acutally open that area up. I hope they do since its such a unique trail for the mid-atlantic area.
[This message has been edited by tromano (edited 11-17-2003).]
[This message has been edited by tromano (edited 11-17-2003).]
Stve I think you are talking about the ditch glades. I fyou are reffering to that trail then I agree wiht you. That place is all messed up. More or less unskiable.
Another reason why I believe Intrawest buying Blue Knob would be a net plus is that they would complete the (currently unfinished) snowmaking lake located just below the summit of the mountain. Below the beginners slope (and snowmaking pond #2) is a large bulldozed area (this area can easily be seen from the summit of the mountain), it has remained that way for over 4 years. A large 18 acre lake was to have been built to provide more water for snowmaking; also, there were to be paddle boats on the lake in the summer. The timber (100-120 year old, rare, altitude stunted oaks) was cut and sold and the area was then bulldozed, but the lake was never completed. I believe that Intrawest would either complete the lake or reclaim the land and plant trees. Either way, this would be an improvement over the current situation.
You'd be amazed at what a brush mower can do!
When I was in college I used one that could take down saplings.
I just wish that BK had better snow making in the stembogan / lower high hopes / lower 66 area. Since thos trails are so fun but often rocky and sparsely covered.
Correct! The Ditch Glades and Cliff-Hanger, which is just to the right (facing down-hill) of The Ditch Glades were both basically destroyed by the logging. Neither are skiable anymore. This is particularly tragic because I (along with many others) have skied these areas since the mid 1960s. The Ditch and Cliff-Hanger offered some of the BEST, all natural, off piste skiing in the East for many years. Because so many of the trees in these areas were large and very valuable, they were removed, which set off some of the worst erosion I have ever seen. If a timber management plan had been in place during the logging, these areas wouldn't have been logged (you don't log ravines for fear of erosion). Unfortunately, not having a timber management plan in place while logging isn't illegal in PA. Hurricane Isabel and other some heavy rains have created a "waste-land" out of the Ditch Glades and Cliff-Hanger. When I looked at those areas this past week-end, I could have cried!
Believe me, it would take a lot more than a brush-hog to remove the 15 foot saplings now covering the Stembogan Bowl. You see what I mean, if and when you ski Stembogan.
Ugh - that is too bad. Sounds like the area really needs some work.
In the survey I actually put BK as my second favorite place to ski as well as the one with the most untapped potential (read: need for repairs and capital expenditures). its pretty sad if the can't keep the place from becoming over grown with weeds, deforested, and eroded away.
The name Cliff-Hanger is ringing a bell. Does anyone have an old trail map of Blue Knob? (preferably on-line).
Where was/is the entrance to Cliff-Hanger off of Stembogan wrt the entrance to Ditch Glades? Skier's right of Ditch Glades is outside the ski area boundary... Did it used to be in bounds?
Why don't you go online to Blue Knob's site to get a current copy of their trail map. From the map, list the specific glades, trails (or if unlabled, the location wrt the label stuff) where you feel erosion and and debris are found. Let's make certain we are talking about the same section of the mountain.
JohnL, that's a good idea. I have a current brochure, which has a trail map with glades included. When I get time, I will describe the current environmental/potential skiability situation in each of these glades, based on recent hikes in these areas and skiing the glades last year. Of course, this will just be my opinion.
The Ditch Glade is in-bounds and Cliff-Hanger (a little farther over to the right) is out-of-bounds. Also, the Blue Trail, which is to the right Jack Rabbit, and "The Point", which is along the same ridge (just past the Blue Trail) are out-of-bounds trails at Blue Knob that have been skied since the 1960s. Unfortunately, these trails have now been logged too, which has basically made then unskiable. However, the land that Blue Trail and The Point set on is not owned BK management or owers, so they had nothing to do with that particular logging operation.
Our sources indicate that there is absolutely no truth to the rumors that Intrawest is interested in purchasing or partnering with Blue Knob with any way. There's no harm in imagining how a resort might change with different management, but the official word we've received is that Intrawest has no interest in Blue Knob.
- Scott (DCSki Editor)
I've rechecked my sources and they're now saying that it was actually the American Skiing Company that recently showed a "mild interest" in purchasing Blue Knob All Seasons Resort, which is currently owned by Blue Knob Recreation, Inc. and a couple of other "shell corporations" (which were probably set up to spread out potential liabilities and to reduce taxes). According to the rumor, the American Ski Company would be interested in BK if only they could buy it for a "song" and the deal would have to include everything, ie: the golf course, conference center, undeveloped land, etc. The current owners of BK ARE interested in unloading the resort, but steadfastly want around $7 Million. They are probably still making plenty of money from ski operations because BK has one of the LOWEST operating budgets in the ski industry; furthermore, the Commonwealth of PA continues to be VERY supportive of BK. So the owners of BK don't have to be in a hurry to do anything. Who knows whether this rumor is true and what the future holds for BK. My best guess is that things will remain essentially the same for the next 20 years or so.
If ASC was indeed the interested party then it's better that they have badgered off. Their entire market cap is worth about seven million and they have absolutely NO money for capital projects. Whatever the current situation at BK, be it bad or good, it would deteriorate with their ownership.
Interesting, I didn't know that ASC was in such bad shape. It doesn't sound like ASC is in any position to purchase even a small (in terms of market value) ski area. I heard this rumor through the BK Ski Club. However, according to BK State Park, which leases the lodge and some of the land to Blue Knob Recreation, Inc., BK Recreation plans on running the ski area for many years to come and is in relatively good shape financially. After all, BK had a long and snowy winter last season and, a couple of years prior to that, BK enjoyed revenue from one of the largest logging operations in Central PA. So, perhaps the BK purchase rumor was just someone's wishful thinking, which doesn't really make sense because the BK regulars continue to be very pleased with the current BK management.
There ain't nooooooo waaaaaay that ASC would buy BK . I *live* in The Canyons which is of course owned by ASC and they already have so many projects on the table the last thing they need is one more. Just right here they have only built up 20% of the planned resort, need to put in the golf course, build the ice skating facility, etc. They are in the red right now because of their Real Estate business (not the ski resorts per se) and they definitly need to keep the 7 Mil in the bank right now. They are a nice company to work for, though (my GF works for The Canyons).
Steve I dont think many of us people who are very loyal to BK love the ownership. Personally I hate it and its such a shame that the best mountain in the mid atlantic is not able to live up to its potential.
Having said that, I know there is nothing I can do about it. BK owners are going to do whats in their best interest and as long as its legal that their perogative. I will contintue to ski BK because the product that is there is still superior to every other mountain in the mid atlantic. Yes it could be a lot better, yes there could be better snowmaking and grooming, yes it would have been nice if they hadn't destroyed many of the glades there, but despite that trails such as extrovert, stemboggen, mambo alley, high hopes, jack rabbit etc are the best in town. The natural trails or the trails that BK never gets around to opening are even better and when they are open thats just gravy. So since I dont have 7 mil to buy the resort I am going to just go when the days are good and enjoy myself. If anything were to happen, if they ever decided to invest more in snowmaking I would be the happiest man alive. But the product on its own is still the best in town.
John, while I agree with you regarding the vast potential that Blue Knob once had (roughly 1050' vertical with some of the most challenging terrain in the Mid-Atlantic), I believe that the current situation at Blue Knob is one of rapid deterioration. The massive (for profit) logging operation has really taken it's toll on both the skiing and the environment. The ski slopes are now in such bad shape (due to the earth disturbance, stumps and debris created by the logging vehicles and equipment) that it will be virtually impossible to make enough snow to cover the rocks and erosion. Two environmental groups now rate BK as one of the most environmentally destructive ski areas in North America. Very few of the ski slopes at BK will offer quality skiing this season unless BK receives some major snow storms, and even then, the skiing will be good for just a couple of days immediately following the snow dumps.
I agree with Steve V. for the most part. From what I have heard regarding the conditions of the trails I almost wonder if they will be able to open much terrain at all this season. I also agree with John that the mountain has a ton of potential. However if they are ever going to see that realized they need to do more to protect their investment and make sure the trails are in good condition. They also need to invest more in snow making.
Is there any info on when Blue Knob will open this year?