My Day at Wintergreen
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SkiBumMSP
February 26, 2006
Member since 12/8/2004 🔗
224 posts
Today, 2/26/06, after 13 years, nearly to the date, of living in this area, I finally got around to going down to Wintergreen. A ski area, about 2 hours from here, and I never even went to it until today.

Overall, I had an excellent day of skiing. The weather was perfect - bluebird skys and the temps pretty much stayed below freezing. As a result, they were blowing snow on nearly all of the slopes there. As a result, it had its pluses and minuses. The downside is that, being it was pretty cold and somewhat blustery out, it was just not fun to ski through that. On the upside, though - it did make for some better conditions. The new snow was doing a good job in keeping down the icyness that I encountered on some of those trails.

After a pretty sucky 2 hour drive (What was up with that @$$hole in the red Lexus riding right up on my tail nearly the whole way down 151? Like that was going to somehow magically make the car in front of me go faster! One reason why I typically go to Massanutten instead is that I find it an easier drive to get there from my place), I arrived at the mountain just before 11 AM. After getting a day ticket, I started off by going over to the area where Big Acorn run was at. I skied down both of the black diamonds over on that side. The snow was good one both of those runs and big Acorn did have an nice pitch to it.

After that, I went over to check out the real reason I went to Wintergreen, to check out the Highlands area. I first tried the mogals up at the top of Wild Turkey. I don't know if it was my skis or due to the mogals themselves, but I could not seem to ski a line through those damn tbings. Everytime I tried to carve around a mogal, my skis would wash out on the ice on the backside of the thing. As a result, it would screw up my timing, and I could not get set to make my next turn. It sounds like it may be time to give my skis another tune up (I did at the beginning of the season). I was having a difficult time holding an edge on some of the tricker/icier parts of the runs. Usually, I do pretty good in getting through that. The real highlight of the Highlands area was upper Cliffhanger. That run was just so awesome and was such fun to ski. On the headwall, there were some nice mogals forming, and they were nice and soft. It was such a blast to ski through them. It certainly helped that there was a snowgun blowing new snow on them. The new run, Outer Limits is also a log to fun to ski.

During lunch, I stopped in and ate at the Copper Mine restaurant. I opted for the buffet, which was about $13 all-you-can-eat. The buffet was pretty sparse as far as selections went, but it was still good. The stuffed chicken (brocali and chedder) was quite good. Overall, I was expecting a bit more for the $13, but still a good meal.

I went back out and ski Highlands for a little bit more until I was whistled off when they closed that area down. I figure I'd go and ski over on Big Acorn again, but then found out my lift ticket was expired, so I ended up going back in. I finally left around 5 or so and headed back up to Fredericksburg.

The crowds, however were just frigan insane! Even the Highlands lift was completely packed. One of the downsides of crowds like that is traffic can make it quite interesting to negotiate the slopes. On upper Cliffhanger, just as I was going for a line, some small kid snowplowed right in my path and wiped out. Damn near ran over him! Had one other instance where some snowboarder got in front of me in the mogals on Upper Turkey, and plopped his @$$ down right square in the middle of where I was just about to drop in! I am standing up there thinking "Okay - are we planning on going anytime soon? Apparently not!", as I just dicided to ski around him.

Oh well, such as life as a Mid-Atltantic skiier. Overall, I had an excellent time and will have to try to get down there again.
skier219
February 26, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Glad to hear the report. Most weekends are nuts at Wintergreen, which is why I *ONLY* ski mid-week (Mon-Thurs are the best days). Normally, there are never lift lines mid-week, and it feels like I have the place to myself. Wintergreen is a 2.5 hour drive for me, which is not bad. The $169 mid-week season pass is a real bargain.

I was there on Friday, and also had a tough time with those moguls on Wild Turkey (though I was glad to see them and give it try for about 5-6 runs). The shape of those bumps were a bit irregular -- probably because they are a couple weeks old in a deep base.. I also noticed that my freshly sharpened skis were losing edge grip, and sure enough, they were pretty beat up after a day of skiing. Lots of hidden ice. The day-old bumps on other trails were real nice though.

I'm hoping to get back up there Wednesday for some "spring" skiing before the super warm temps hit Thursday.

CRaig
SkiBumMSP
February 26, 2006
Member since 12/8/2004 🔗
224 posts
Quote:

Glad to hear the report. Most weekends are nuts at Wintergreen, which is why I *ONLY* ski mid-week (Mon-Thurs are the best days). Normally, there are never lift lines mid-week, and it feels like I have the place to myself. Wintergreen is a 2.5 hour drive for me, which is not bad. The $169 mid-week season pass is a real bargain.




I wish I could get out and do some skiing mid-week, but my work schedule pretty much makes that impossible. Thus, I pretty much have to settle with going on the weekends.

Quote:

I was there on Friday, and also had a tough time with those moguls on Wild Turkey (though I was glad to see them and give it try for about 5-6 runs). The shape of those bumps were a bit irregular -- probably because they are a couple weeks old in a deep base.. I also noticed that my freshly sharpened skis were losing edge grip, and sure enough, they were pretty beat up after a day of skiing. Lots of hidden ice. The day-old bumps on other trails were real nice though.




Nice to know I was not the only one to experience that. Would be interesting to ski those moguls there on Wild Turkey when they soften up a bit, though.

Quote:

I'm hoping to get back up there Wednesday for some "spring" skiing before the super warm temps hit Thursday.

CRaig




Yeah, I saw how warm it is supposed to get. There are some of us from work that were planning on going there this week. I think it was on Thursday.
wgo
February 27, 2006
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,359 posts
Steven,

What is your assessment of the terrain at Wintergreen vs Massanutten? I've skied both a fair amount and I honestly go back and forth over which resort I prefer. One thing that was cool at Massanutten last friday was that the entire skier's left of Paradice was bumped up. It made for one of the longer mid-atlantic bump runs I have seen!
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SkiBumMSP
February 27, 2006
Member since 12/8/2004 🔗
224 posts
Quote:

Steven,

What is your assessment of the terrain at Wintergreen vs Massanutten? I've skied both a fair amount and I honestly go back and forth over which resort I prefer. One thing that was cool at Massanutten last friday was that the entire skier's left of Paradice was bumped up. It made for one of the longer mid-atlantic bump runs I have seen!




My personal opinion is that the terrain at Wintergreen is really not all that much more varied than at Massanutten. The only real advantage that I can seem to get out of Wintergreen is that they do have two high-speed six-pack lifts, which makes it nicer to get up the hill more quickly. The thing I do like about Massanutten is that Paradise and Diamond Jim do offer some nice long runs, and they are often not to terribly crowded, even on the more busier weekends. The closest equivalent at Wintergreen is Upper Wild Turkey/Turkey Shoot/Lower Wild Turkey. I found I liked Diamond Jim at Massnutten better. Now, I do wish Massanutten had something like the whole of Upper Cliffhanger/Lower Cliffhanger, with the nice steep headwalls and all. Upper Dixie Dare at Massnutten is probably the closest equivelent to Upper Cliffhanger.

Over on the other side of the mountain, I really did enjoy skiing Big Acorn and the upper part of Sunrise. Big Acorn had a pretty nice consistant pitch. They mark that as black, but I find it more closer to resembling Rebel Yell at Massanutten, which is considered a blue run there. I notice that Wintergreen claims something like 20 runs vs Massanutten's 14, but it seems that taken as a whole, Wintergreen really does not have that much more terrain as Massnutten.

And yes, I also thought letting the left side of Paradise at Massanutten bump up is a brillant idea. I'll be at Massanutten again this weekend and hopefully, those bumps are still gonna be there. I am wondering if that is something they will do on a regular basis, as this was the first time I've seen them do that. Always cool to experiment and try things out like that, and I think they hit on a winner here.

Also, much is made of Wintergreen's fancy-dancy high-tech computerized snow making system, but in actuality, I really did not find the conditions there at Wintergreen to be really any better than what I find at Massanutten.

Overall impressions was that Wintergreen is a nice area with a lot of fun terrain and excellent snowmaking, but I honostly did not think it was all that much better than Massanutten. On an aside, I was riding up the lift with this one guy and I mentioned that it was fun to try out Wintergreen for once after mostly skiing Massanutten. He went off on this tirade about how Massanutten sucked and how much better Wintergreen was and so on and blah, blah, blah. I pretty much was like "yeah, whatever dude.". I personally thought he was just talking out of his @$$, but hey, that is my opinion.

I'll have to try to get at least another visit or two to Wintergreen this season to make a better assessment, but my first impression was that it just did not overwhelm me with excitement. The only real excitment I got out of it was getting to explore an area that I've not skied yet, and seeing what little surprises I can discover. In the end, I think it just comes down to a matter of personal preference over which one to ski. For example, Wintergreen did have some nice amenities that I wish Massanutten had, such as a warm-up shack right there on the mountain where you can go in and get a hot drink and rest, but at the same time, I liked the more "down-to-earth" atmosphere that Massanutten seem to have. To me, Wintergreen seem to have a more "uppity" feel to it.

I certainly enjoyed my day at Wintergreen (despite the large crowds), but at the same time, I will still certainly enjoy skiing at Massanutten as well.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
February 27, 2006
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,720 posts
I happened to hit Wintergreen this season on three days when crowds were low, incl Pres Day which really blew me away. Those unexpected low crowds (which is a big factor) and the new trails/snowmaking/lifts left me with a really strong impression after not visiting the place for about 8 yrs. I do remember weekend crowds typically being quite tough there.

The snowmaking and Paradice/Diamond Jim are great at Massanutten, and I think when Dixie Dare is all bumped up it may be tougher (for a short stretch) than even any of the new diamonds at Wintergreen. I've never seen Para or Dia J left to bump up, sounds interesting. But I think Wintergreen when all slopes are open and lines aren't too bad has a little more variety.

The one thing Wintergreen could use now is an Extrovert or Lower Shays type of double black. Wonder if there is terrain like on the far side of the Highlands or Big Acorn that they could tap into?
I've also wondered if there is something like that on the far side of the Quad chair at Mass?

BTW I enjoyed SKIBUM MSP's contrasting opinion. All info is good info.
k_alice
February 27, 2006
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
We've been up at Wintergreen the majority of winter weekends this year. My advice for avoiding weekend crowds is to get the twilight instead of day pass - especially if you arrived close to 11:00 AM. The crowds are the worst just after lunch. However, I've found the crowds dissipate a lot after 4:30 (when the day passes expire) and around 5:00 the snow firms up and often gets faster. From 5:00 - 7:00 is my favorite time to ski. As for night skiing, you rarely have to wait in line, and the conditions are often great. We have the mid-week pass, so we often ski as late as possible on Sundays (the pass is valid as of 12:30).

p.s. my son who is reading this over my shoulder also recommends skiing first thing in the morning. It's true that the conditions are excellent first thing - we've managed to get 6-7 runs on the Highlands in the first hour... but around 11:00 the crowds pick up.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
February 27, 2006
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
The nice thing is you don't have to choose. None of our areas are big enough to support 100% obsession. You get bored with WG, then go to Massnut, and so on. Personally, I like WG, but I go other places as well. I went to Beech mtn on Saturday and completely skied my hammies off - great fun. It's all good.
skier219
February 27, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I don't like the layout at Mass as much as WTG -- Mass feels like a smaller mountain (but neither Mass or WTG have a big mountain feel that you get at places like Snowshoe). I also think WTG's 1000ft higher elevation has got to help, in terms of weather. But both places are quite similar overall. I may have to hit Mass this season -- haven't been there in a long time, but it might be a fun change from WTG.

About the only thing I don't like about skiing WTG late in the day is that the light gets extremely flat on the Highlands, and it's tough skiing there past about 3pm most days (although Outer Limits stays lit up longer than the other trails due to its location and southern exposure). Last Friday, I skied at Highlands until it closed, then went over to Big Acorn for a few more runs. By about 5:30 I was done for the day. When the snow is just a little bit sloppy, I have a hard time pulling off my prefered skiing style in twilight lighting. Something about reading terrain through my skis, rather than with my eyes, puts the brakes on the fun!
wgo
February 27, 2006
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,359 posts
Quote:


The one thing Wintergreen could use now is an Extrovert or Lower Shays type of double black. Wonder if there is terrain like on the far side of the Highlands or Big Acorn that they could tap into?




Now that would be interesting...maybe cut a couple trails directly up to the ridge of condos on the left of the highlands area, and add a new lift? Would be short but pretty steep, i think

Quote:


I've also wondered if there is something like that on the far side of the Quad chair at Mass?





If somehow they could make a trail directly below the expert lift that would be pretty sweet. Would just need some snowguns...
k_alice
February 27, 2006
Member since 11/22/2005 🔗
92 posts
Quote:

... When the snow is just a little bit sloppy, I have a hard time pulling off my prefered skiing style in twilight lighting. Something about reading terrain through my skis, rather than with my eyes, puts the brakes on the fun!




I agree that flat light is difficult. But I've found that there's a window of just a few runs when the flat light is really at its worst, and then the electric lights take over and it's really easy to see the contrasts. I get some of my best runs in when there's enough natural light to get a nice view of the mountains, but enough electric lights to see the snow well, and virtually no lift lines.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
February 27, 2006
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
2,217 posts
I haven't been to Wintergreen for a long time. They used to restrict the Highlands. You had to pass a ski test and get your ticket marked to go over there. It was the bad skier capital of the universe so few passed and you could ski onto an empty chair on every run even on the busiest days. I liked that.

I went to Massanutten on a warm day last spring after a similar long lapse and was reminded of many wonderful days of spring skiing in the warm sun at both places. Perhaps I became too jaded as my ski skills improved.
skier219
February 28, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Quote:

I haven't been to Wintergreen for a long time. They used to restrict the Highlands. You had to pass a ski test and get your ticket marked to go over there. It was the bad skier capital of the universe so few passed and you could ski onto an empty chair on every run even on the busiest days. I liked that.




I wish they still did that. When I started skiing there in 92, they didn't make you pass a test, but they did give everyone a look-over at the Highlands entry point, and weeded out the obvious accidents-waiting-to-happen. Initially, I though this was pretty conceited of Wintergreen, since the trails are all pretty tame compared to the real black/double-black trails I grew up on in New England, but it makes sense to me now, especially when I see out of control beginners over there skiing unsafely.

I remember skiing there with my boss' kids in the early 90s. They made it through the checkpoint no problem, and did fine skiing. One of my coworkers, however, was asked to leave the Highlands and not come back. Which was a good thing -- he was totally out of control.
skier219
February 28, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Quote:

Quote:


The one thing Wintergreen could use now is an Extrovert or Lower Shays type of double black. Wonder if there is terrain like on the far side of the Highlands or Big Acorn that they could tap into?




Now that would be interesting...maybe cut a couple trails directly up to the ridge of condos on the left of the highlands area, and add a new lift? Would be short but pretty steep, i think




Unfortunately, those trails would probably be south-facing, and they'd have a harder time keeping good snow on them (which is what's happening on Outer Limits this year). But it looks like there would be some awesome skiing over there for sure. Aside from the southern exposure, I always envisioned trail expansion wrapping around that valley, with a few more trails serviced by the new fast lift. If they could find a run down that would keep the trail out of direct sun, that might be feasible. The top of Outer Limits does OK, it's just the bottom pitch that gets a lot of sun.

What I would really like to see at WTG are narrower trails, which would take less snowmaking/grooming to maintain, be more interesting to ski, and would be friendlier to the environment. They sure had a chance to make Outer Limits narrow, but turned it into a wide boulevard. Maybe that's more preferable to the majority of Mid-A skiers. As part of an expert area, I would sure be trying to go narrower and take advantage of all the benefits.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
February 28, 2006
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
I also expected outer limits to be much more narrow rather than just like all the others. however, it probably is my favorite slope there when not slushy (rare).

if you look at the topomaps, then the terrain on the ridge beside devils-elbow would be quite steep and, best of all, north facing! not very long, but it would be ideal for a short bump slope and smooth race slope.

you will also notice that they could have easily had 2000' of vertical if that pesky warm weather were not a concern!
SkiBumMSP
March 3, 2006
Member since 12/8/2004 🔗
224 posts
Well, just yesterday (Thursday, March 2), I was at Wintergreen again. There were a few of us from work that decided to ditch a day of work and go skiing. I arrived there a little before noon and managed to score myself a twilight ticket good until closing.

During the day, the weather was getting downright warm. I ended up having to down-dress to just a t-shirt, since it was getting so warm (and I tend to be warm minded as is). It did not help that I was pounding through the moguls there on upper Wild Turkey nearly all afternoon.

Obviously, due to the warm weather, the snow was getting very soft. This did make for some awesome skiing through the mogals as they were nice and soft. The only problem was that they were getting pretty chopped up, especially near the bottom, thus making it very difficult to get my skis through there. The snow in general was holding up pretty well, although there were definitly some barespots that were starting to show through. It was a good thing that Wintergreen was able to get to blow all that snow on Sunday (and I assume, also on Monday), as they definitly needed it. Maybe, with this minor cooling trend, they can get some more snow up there tonight, especially since the ten-day forecast that I just looked at right before posting this is calling for it to get well into the 70's by next weekend. Later in the evening, that wind really started to kick up and it started getting colder. Hell, it even snowed for a little bit at one point! The snow was actually setting up nicely, but did not turn into ice. As a result, it made a sweet carving surface. I was having such a blast just ripping turns down Big Acorn and Sunrise during that last couple hours before closing.

As for the crowds, this was 180 degrees from Sunday. There was hardly anybody on the slopes. Every run, I pretty much skied right up onto the lift, whether I was by myself or just hoping on with somebody else already down there. Going into that last hour before they kicked me off the slopes at closing, I practically had Big Acorn and Sunrise all to myself.

I grabbed both lunch and dinner at The Edge resturaunt right there above the lodge. The burger I had for lunch was excellent, as were the chicken wings I had for dinner. Also, the service was excellent as well - definitly recommended for a decent, yet still somewhat reasonabily priced meal (although still a little pricey but not out of line of what I expected out of a place similiar to that anywhere else, on or off a ski slope.)

I also met a fellow DCSkier - Dave (I hope that was your name, as I am terrible with names). I cannot remember what his screen name was though. I got to ski a couple runs with him before I met up with the rest of my group and went in for dinner. After dinner, I tried to find him again, but I guess he must've left by than. Good meeting you, Dave - wished I could've gotten a few more runs with you.

Unfortunatly, I did encounter one major downside with Wintergreen (and another reason why I really did not think it was all that much better than Massanutten). No friggan night skiing on Highlands!. As a result, you practically got only half the mountain available for skiing after sundown, and practically no real advanced terrain for us skiiers that are looking for a bit more challange. Big Acorn (which I still think is more akin to Rebel Yell, a blue, at Massanutten) and Sunrise are fun, but they are not anything like say Upper Cliffhanger or Wild Turkey. At least Massanutten has all of thier terrain lit up for night skiing, including the blacks there off of Lift 6 (the quad going up to the summit).

Overall, it was a blast, and I can definitly see why people constantly talk about trying to hit the slopes mid-week. I just wish my work schedule would allow me to do this more often. Also, after this second day of skiing Wintergreen, I still pretty much hold to what I think in that posting I made earlier comparing it to Massanutten. I do like Wintergreen and have no qualms going there again to ski, but I still very much like and enjoy skiing at Massanutten as well.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
March 4, 2006
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
Yep. I got in a couple of runs with MSP and let me tell you he has a nice form that I followed down sunrise. It was a pleasure meeting you Steve. I went into dinner with the family at 6:30 and then returned with my kids from 8 to 9:30. We must have just crossed paths. At least I'll recognize you next time.

Friday was totally different - an amazing transformation to midwinter form. They blew a ton of snow, and I'm not talking about Maybor Barry. Most of it was great except for upper turkey that was a field of chopped up ice cubes outside the moguls. Overall, the highlands had the worst snow, but still pretty good. Best of all, still pretty much ski-on even until 5pm when we left, most runs on big acorn or outer limits were solo.

-Dave

ps: I thought the Edge food was pretty bad considering it doesn't look like a cafeteria. I just need to convince the rest of my family that PBJ is high cuisine.

Here is a view of the crowd on big acorn today - and one of those skiers is my kid.
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