Wintergreen/Snowshoe TR 3/16-17
I skied Wintergreen on Thursday (3/16) and Snowshoe on Friday (3/17).
Thursday was a beautiful sunny day at Wintergreen with temps starting in the 30s and going up to the low 50s -- perfect spring skiing. It's hard to believe that a week ago, I was skiing sublime packed powder on all of Wintergreen's trails, as the resort has taken a beating from the recent super warm temps. Many of the trails are closed, and the ones that remain open have a lot of bare spots. However, you can tell they have been using creative grooming (including scavenging snow from closed trails) to keep the remaining trails open. And the result is good -- I was glad to see they are working hard to keep us skiing through March. Of the open trails, I found Dobie, Eagle's Swoop, Tequila/Sunrise and Tyro to be excellent. In fact, lower Tyro was as good as ever, with nice grooming and plenty of snow. The Highlands trails were a lot mushier and not as fun to ski, but still OK. The morning conditions were very good, owing to meticulous grooming and cool overnight temps. By afternoon, it was getting slushy in spots, though I continued to find great untracked groomed snow on the edge of trails and in shady spots. This might have been my last day at Wintergreen for the season, but if next week's cold weather and snow holds out, I may get one more day on my season pass. I have to give kudos to Wintergreen for sticking it out through a challenging season.
Friday at Snowshoe was interesting. First, the cold temps and predicted 3-6" of overnight snow never showed up. In fact, it was sunny in the morning and mild with temps in the upper 30s when I started skiing. Fortuitously, I brought along my carving skis, which were perfect (maybe required!) for the morning's frozen granular corduroy on the Western Territory. Lower Shays was closed (large bare spots + ski patrol training) but Cupp and Upper Shays were a carving paradise. Hard and fast. By lunchtime, the snow got softer and I switched to my new Volkl Karma twin tips, which are great in soft snow. I had a couple hours of fun on the soft snow on the basin side before things started to change dramatically. First, clouds rolled in, along with snow showers, wind, and fog. Temps dropped into the upper 20s and it got a bit raw out. And then it started getting real tough to ski as the soft snow began to freeze back up. I would get in a few great turns, then feel like a beginner all of a sudden. At one point, I came to a stop to collect myself and get re-centered. I looked down at my skis, and realized they were packed with heavy frozen slush that extended to my boots and ski pants. Probably an extra 10 lbs of weight per leg! That, and the pseudo-cement on the slopes made it tough skiing, but it was a good reminder to me that there are always challenges to be found no matter what the skier level or the terrain. I do sympathize with beginners that were out that day, as they encountered some of the most challenging snow of the year. For the rest of the day, my mission was seeking out untracked snow to get the last bit of enjoyment out of the trip.
Side note: when I left Snowshoe around 5pm, they were blowing snow up top near the village!! They had 4-5 "pole cat" blower guns going, which were belting out snow. I have no idea if they were making snow elsewhere on the mountain, but was reassuring to see that they plan on keeping good coverage up top even as we head into late March.
Some trivia / question: what happened to Shaver's Lake?? The water level is extremely low, in fact, the lowest I have seen since they created the lake. It looks like an icy swamp. Either Snowshoe has used up the water for snowmaking, or they are intentionally draining the lake. Even though we have been short on precipitation lately, this looked way too low to me! If anybody has the lowdown, I'd be curious to know.
Skied the Shoe Friday, Sat, Sun. Friday was soft with some brown spots - but no lines. It looked like snow most of the day but didn't happen. Friday night snowmaking and grooming occurred all over. Saturday trails were all white again except some dirt sections on upper and lower shays. The first drop on upper shays had only about a 10 foot section of brown snow linking to the lower section of upper shays. Other than that upper shays was excellent. Lower shays was closed. Cupp was very nice in the morning but turned icy. Grabhammer was very sweet. Crowded up a bit (Ballhooter) around lunchtime and closing time, but not a problem for most of the day. Saturday night more snowmaking and grooming. Sunday morning best conditions of the three days - no lines. Cupp was SWEET - possibly as good as it gets if you like groomed cruising - consistent, smooth, nice carving surface. Lower shays was open but with significant dirt patches. Upper shays middle patched a bit, but still a fairly narrow bottleneck at the first drop. With the continuing cold and snow predicted, this weekend should be decent. Don't know what happened to the water in Shavers Lake. Have never seen it like that before - strange.
Don't know what happened to the water in Shavers Lake. Have never seen it like that before - strange.
Strange? In what way? I know they enlarged the lake a year or so ago in order to expand the snowmaking capabilities. Everytime I have seen the lake its looked like your average lake. What was so different this time?
There was no water in the lake - a big mud pit. My comment was a reply to the original posting on this thread. The lake has always been shallow, but this time it looked like they had drained it. I had assumed that Snowshoe recieved the same kind of rain (last week) we got in Cincinnati - but maybe not. Either they have not received rain/snow for a long time, they have drained it, or have tapped it out for snowmaking (which I can't imagine because they have not done much with the warm weather).
I too was at Snowshoe this past Fri to Sun. Skiing was sweet on manmade groomed corn snow. Cup was awsome, albeit a little dicey due to some icy spots and some piles of corn snow. Given that it is supposed to stay at or below freezing for the rest of this week, and natural snow is expected, I would suggest that the upcoming Beach Party weekend should have great skiing. I noticed that they had closed Silver Creek as of today...a bit of a surprise since I had not seen any announcement on the Shoe website. Usually they give a couple of weeks notice since they have closed it before the main area the last couple of years. I do not know if they plan to reopen it for the upcoming weekend or not.
As for Shavers Lake, as several posters have noted it is quite low, not a mudhole per se, but I would guess that it is at less than 25% capacity. No idea why unless they are either planning to make it deeper by digging the bottom out and depositing the dirt elsewhere to help make some of the new and improved trails for next year, or that there has simply been some sort of malfunction with the dam.
Scott, can you call and find out what the problem is?
Anyway....head for the Shoe, you won't be disappointed.
The folks at SC knew (at least) 3 weeks ago about the closing because they were telling me about it - but I didn't see any web postings of closing either. Not only that - the folks at SC are not pleased they always close about 2 weeks prior to the rest of SS. Last weekend, they had very good conditions but still closed.
They closed SC early last year with an excellent base. I would have loved to be over there for the last powder dump of the season in early April. It's a pity they close some of the best and least crowded trails first!!
Last weekend, they had very good conditions but still closed.
I'll say - was there on 3/18 and condititions were excellent. They could easily be open this weekend if snowshoe thought it was worth the expense.
By the way, I wanted to take this chance to thank the posters here for the information on trail closures (for the 24 hr of snowshoe race) and on the Brazeh Head Inn. You guys rock!