Blue Knob is not making much snow!
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(Anonymous)
December 9, 2003
On my return from 7-Springs today, I drove to the summit of Blue Knob and took a look around. I was amazed at how unprepared the place looked. Not much snow has been made (rocks and dirt sticking up in many areas) and a garbage dumpster (full of old carpet and trash) blocked the main doors to the lodge. The thermometer in my car showed 24F, yet no snow was being made. I later called a friend who lives on the mountain; he said that they made snow on some of the slopes a few nights ago but have recently concentrated the snow making on their flat, totally worthless, "tubing park". Before leaving, I hiked down to look at a few of the "glades"; even with 16 inches of snow they looked really rough and overgrown. I would say that the glades need at least 2 more feet of base before they're skiable. Things will have to turn around fast for there to be quality skiing at BK anytime soon!
(Anonymous)
December 9, 2003
16 inches of snow is not normally enough to open glades at any resort. That is kind of dissapointing to hear but I can't say I didn't expect it. Just another year at the knob, and all I know is that in a few short weeks, maybe a month BK will will have trails open that 7Springs can only dream of. Doesn't mean I dont wish I had a few mill to buy the resort and invest dough to this neglected gem.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 9, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I was tempted to drive by myself on Sunday but was too tired to bother. I did, however, notice that Blue Knob does not even have a sign on the PA Turnpike telling drivers where to exit for BK. That's a shame. MD posts official ski area signs for both Whitetail and WISP. If BK can't get the state to post an official sign, they should at least rent a billboard for the season...
tromano
December 9, 2003
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
This sounds very disapointing. It sort of makes you wonder how serious their management is about being competitive with the other resorts in the area. I mean if liberty is open and BK isn't then there is something wrong.
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(Anonymous)
December 9, 2003
I don't think that the owners of "Blue Knob All Seasons Resort" are very serious about running the ski area. They are now back logging a large area near the condo road. If anything, they are probably more interested in how many trees their logging contractor is cutting down. And how many full log hauling trucks head to the lumber mill per week.
danwxman
December 9, 2003
Member since 03/7/2004
58 posts
I believe there are signs for "Blue Knob State Park" but only going westbound on the turnpike.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 9, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I saw the state park sign but it said nothing about skiing...
(Anonymous)
December 9, 2003
I don't recall if it's still there or not, but about a year ago there was a large BK billboard (visible from the Turnpike headed Eastbound)that touted BK's skiing. It was just past the Midway rest stops headed East. Oddly enough, that is after you've passed the Bedford Turnpike interchange which you need to use to get to BK.

Given the apparent lack of seriousness on the part of BK's ownership, and also the restrictions placed by the Commonwealth of PA on the recent and current owners of Laurel MT, I'm left wondering if the fact that both are in state parks is a limiting factor?

As a native-born Pennsylvanian (but no longer a resident), I'm not confident that the state is progressive enough to ever loosen the reins enough on ski areas located in state parks.....

(Anonymous)
December 9, 2003
I think they are too separate problems. Laurel will have a tough time being successful because its in the vicinity of BLue KNob and 7 springs. For me, while I enjoy Laurel, its tough to justify going there over Blue KNob if the KNob has a reasonable amount of trails open.

Blue Knob was once one of the most successful ski areas around for awhile. However they have not been able to keep up with the times in two key areas, snowmaking and grooming. I dont think being state park land has little to anything to do with these two categories. While I'm a bit suspect of new owners widening and kmartizing all of the great trails, I've come to realize that anything would really be better than what they do now. I read many praising posts about Stowe in another thread and I'd just like to add that the front four , with the exception of goat use to be much more difficult and narrow. National use to be one of the most difficult fun trails in Vermont, and then they widened it and even groom it sometimes.

Having said all this, I'm still confident that Blue KNob will get a reasonable amount of terrain open for this winter and will still give skiers and riders the longest, most challenging, continuous fall line skiing in the mid atlantic.

(Anonymous)
December 9, 2003
Blue Knob State Park plays NO role in the problems with BK ski area. To the contrary, the State Park has tried everything to help the owners of the ski area, including: waiving the annual lease fee (the lodge, part of the ski slopes and the tubing park are on State Park land), not fining or penalizing the ski area for failing to complete the large snowmaking lake (as promised) on State Park land after the ski area operators cut all of the trees down. Also, the PA State Park system has done a variety of things to help promote BK ski area. So, the current problems at BK are due to extensive environmental damage and mismanagement by the owners of the resort.
Mitch
December 9, 2003
Member since 11/27/2002
5 posts
Two quick question since I have never been BK, 1. Do they ever get to 100% of the mountain open during a typical winter? 2. How much of their terrain can they open with a weeks worth of snowmaking?
(Anonymous)
December 10, 2003
Blue Knob almost never gets the entire mountain open during a typical ski season because of 2 factors: 1) Approx.50% of the terrain is comprised of gladed slopes with NO snowmaking. 2) Many of the glades are filled with rocks and stumps, which requires an extremely deep base to adequately cover these areas. Furthermore, there is a gladed slope called "Forever Glades" on the trail map that doesn't actually exist because that area was never cleaned up at all after the logging operation which formed the glades. If you visit goski.com or look at the BK brochure, I believe BK claims to have 92% snowmaking; this is simply not true. As far as BK's snowmaking capacity goes; they probably have one of the lowest capacities in the mid-atlantic. After a weeks worth of snowmaking, you can expect that BK might have as many as two major trials open in a best case scenario. Fortunately, BK is colder than most ski areas, which gives them plenty of opportunities to make snow, but the BK management doesn't always take advantage of the weather.
(Anonymous)
December 10, 2003
Blue Knob almost never gets the entire mountain open during a typical ski season because of 2 factors: 1) Approx.50% of the terrain is comprised of gladed slopes with NO snowmaking. 2) Many of the glades are filled with rocks and stumps, which requires an extremely deep base to adequately cover these areas. Furthermore, there is a gladed slope called "Forever Glades" on the trail map that doesn't actually exist because that area was never cleaned up at all after the logging operation which formed the glades. If you visit goski.com or look at the BK brochure, I believe BK claims to have 92% snowmaking; this is simply not true. As far as BK's snowmaking capacity goes; they probably have one of the lowest capacities in the mid-atlantic. After a weeks worth of snowmaking, you can expect that BK might have as many as two major trials open in a best case scenario. Fortunately, BK is colder than most ski areas, which gives them plenty of opportunities to make snow, but the BK management doesn't always take advantage of the weather.
Roy
December 10, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
This is just a guess but I'll throw it out there.

I would say that Blue Knob being in a state park has nothing to do with the development of the slopes or it's upkeep. With all the logging that has been done, and the shape that it left the mountain in, that doesn't seem like a policy that a typical state park or forest service would let happen.

Even though some state parks can have screwy policies, this just doesn't seem right.

(Anonymous)
December 10, 2003
Roy, while I realize that the purpose of DCSki is not to have discussions on the environment, I feel compelled to answer your questions. Nearly all of the horrific environmental damage at Blue Knob ski area took place under the Tom Ridge admin. Anyone who is familiar with PA Governor Ridge's environmental record in PA knows that it was one of worst in the nation. Numerous letters from several major environmental groups (including the Sierra Club) expressing outrage at the destruction taking place at BK were sent to Gov. Ridge and his staff; Ridge and his admin. didn't even bother to answer a single letter! The logging at Blue Knob was done without a timber management plan and is now being investigated for PA Erosion Control Law 102 violations according to PA Governor Rendel's admin. (the current Gov. of PA). Furthermore, BK State Park was originally donated from the US Park Service to PA for the purpose of preservation and recreation (so long as recreational activities do not compromise preservation and conservation). So the logging at BK appears to be in violation of the conditions under which the land was deeded to PA from the US Government. By the way, the US government is now looking into this. However, so long as the Bush admin. is in place, it's unlikely that too much pressure is going to be placed on PA to clean up the BK mess. BK is now considered by many environmental groups to be one of the most environmentally destructive ski areas in North America. I know that many of you are simply going accuse me of "BK bashing"; I encourage all of you to go up to BK and form your own opinions. If possible, take a hike down the "Ditch Glades" and along the stream just below the loading areas of the #1 and #2 ski lifts, then perhaps you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about when I say that there's extensive environmental damage at BK.
tromano
December 10, 2003
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
Steve,

I understand what you are saying regarding the conditions as relates to environmental impact. And apparently the off piste conditions will require alot of work / many fee tof snow to cover the various obstructions. My question is... what is the skiing impact for on piste? Is there substantial erosion on piste? What is the condition of lower high hopes? extrovert? expressway? jack rabbit? To my knowledge lower shortway did not open at all last season. Was the reason for this loging?

JohnL
December 10, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Lower Shortway was open last season - I skied it several times. Looked the same as it always does - a few low/soft brushes sticking through the snow at the bottom face.

Great trail. Even in New England, very few trails are as narrow as Lower Shortway, Lower Route 66 and Edgeset.

tromano
December 10, 2003
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
johnL, Bwah! I skiied BK 4 times last year and shortway was always closed. Well maybe I will have the chance soon.
Kahuna613
December 10, 2003
Member since 11/20/2003
56 posts
Surface Conditions: 12/9
Currently making snow and will continue making snow weather permitting. We have several inches down already with 12" to 16" inches of natural snow.Opening date December 12.

(Anonymous)
December 10, 2003
Blue Knob conditions as of 12/10: A friend of mine who lives at BK just checked the slope conditions. Sounds pretty sad; it's currently raining in sheets and torrents. There is still snow on the slopes but it looks like they attempted to groom the snow surface when the base was way too thin because there are rocks (of all sizes) fetched up into the snow. Also the groomers left plenty of brown strips comprized of mud. Why they tried to groom when the base was paper thin is beyond me. Frankly, I don't see how BK is going to open on Fri. for the weekend given how sad things are. If there is any skiing within the next few days at BK, it is going to be minimal that's for sure.
danwxman
December 10, 2003
Member since 03/7/2004
58 posts
They should get about 2-3" of snow tomorrow, which should at least cover up the mud and brown spots...Then decent snowmaking weather through the end of the week...
(Anonymous)
December 10, 2003
Mitch I'll tell you this. Steve is right for the most part, Blue Knob rarely gets 100% of their terrain open.

However much of that has to do with the type of terrain that is at blue knob. For instance some trails such as Shortway and Edgeset are two narrow to ever have snowmaking.

Furthermore you do have to pick the right day to go to blue knob. However if they do have some trails open, be prepared for some of the best skiing that you'll ever have in the mid atlantic. Extrovert, which is normally open regularly, is the toughest trail in the mid atlantic. Many of the snowshoe loyalist(who seem to have never skied extrovert) may claim lower shays, but Extrovert has a long (800 vertical) continous 39 degree drop with larger moguls. It is really a true test to any expert skier.

Mambo alley is also open regularly and is a 2 mile long green. Deer Run , expressway, Jackrabbit are also normally open and are also great long blues. Expressway and Deer RUn would be marked as black diamonds at many of the mid atlantic ski areas. Stemboggen which is open a little less, but normally opens at some point is a great single black that is very windy with a bowl at the top. add to that lower high hopes which is a single black with a contiuous long continous pitch. If anything else opens thats just gravy.

If you've never been to BK, pick the right day and go. Let me remind you to pick the right day and make sure it isn't -10 and that they have some of these trails mentioned above opened. Normally mid way through the season the trails mentioned above are open.

(Anonymous)
December 10, 2003
The bowl at the top of Stembogan at BK is no longer skiable. It is now covered with brush and saplings as high as 12 feet. Deer Run is usually wind blown and icy, plus there is usually poor snow coverage on the right side of Deer Run (facing downhill) because the snow guns are only located on the left side of that slope even though the wind usually blows from right to left. This means that when they try to make snow on Deer Run they can't really cover the right side. Furthermore, although Deer Run is quite steep, it is a rather short ski slope with about 400 feet of vertical.
(Anonymous)
December 11, 2003
The primary non-Gladed slopes at Blue Knob were also heavily damaged by the logging. This is because the huge felled trees (minus their limbs) were frequently "skidded" (dragged) down the slopes by the skidder vehicles (similar to a bulldozer). This damage was never really repaired and large gashes were left on many of the main ski slopes. And now the severe rain storms and flooding over the past few months have done incredible damage to BK. The ski area will now have MAJOR problems keeping enough snow on the main trails to prevent rocks and mudd from sticking up on a continual basis. As far as Shortway goes; lower Shortway and the "Bone Yard" glade area are now in REALLY BAD shape, I doubt that they'll be open little (if any) ever again. But please don't take my word for any of this, go up to BK and see (and ski) it for yourself.
DCSki Sponsor: Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Roy
December 11, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
JonS, you are completely right about Extrovert. The first time I skied it (about 4 years ago when we had a really good snow year), it was icy, windblown, and the "moguls" were taller than me. It is still my favorite east coast run of all time.

Lower Shay's is a great run but it is like a a million different runs at a million different resorts. Extrovert is an adventure and will bring you down if your cocky.

(Anonymous)
December 11, 2003
Steve I think you are being a bit unfair now. Sure you cannot like the resort, and yes they have made very poor decisions about snowmaking and enviroments.

First, as recently as last year I have still been able to make some lines on the bowl at the top of stemboggen.

Furthermore your critique on Deer Run is unwarranted. FIrst its longer than 400 vertical feet because Extrovert is 800 and it does not have twice as much vertical as Deer Run. It also connects with a trails of 2-300 vertical above it. Second, its a continous fall line. Its not like many other trails in the mid atlantic with a little drop and a long run out. YOu're right the coverage way on the right can get sparse, but its such a wide trail that it rarely matters. It does get icy, true, but so does every other trail in the mid atlantic. I've skied Deer RUn on many powder days and its a real treat as its perfect for long wide GS turns. Deer RUn is truely a fantastic intermediate run.

YOu can certainly crititque BK's management and enviromental decisions, but you're critique of Deer Run is misguided in comparison to the rest of the Mid Atlantic.

tromano
December 11, 2003
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
I thought deek run was higher than 400 feet as well maybe ~600-700 or so. Its a continuous fall line at a fairly steep slope. I have never measured with GPS or the like. but I think its higher than 400. Are you looking at a topo map or just guess timating that number?

Deerrun, IMO is the most challengeing blue marked trail in the mid-atl, and would probabbly be labeled black jsut about anywhere else.

(Anonymous)
December 11, 2003
I based my Deer Run vertical calculations on a topo map. Also, keep in mind that I'm not including the "mixing bowl" area below the bottom of Deer Run. So, if you exclude the "mixing" area, the vertical of Deer Run is about 400, perhaps 500 feet, according to a topo sheet. As far as the Stembogan Bowl goes; I stick by my story, IT IS NO LONGER SKIABLE, only the far right (non-bowl) side of the slope remains skiable. The far right side of the bowl is where the original slope was. I might add that much of Stembogan is now totally washed out and covered with rocks. This is because they didn't put water bars back in place after the logging. Also, to my knowledge, no grass seed was ever put down. By the way, the primary reason why the Stembogan Bowl was created was to harvest the timber for profit (not to create a ski slope) as some of the most valuable hardwood trees on the mountain stood there prior to the logging. I urge those who doubt what I'm saying to please go up to BK and ski Stembogan and Deer Run; then you can check the accuracy of my opinions and form your own opinions.
(Anonymous)
December 11, 2003
Just to clarify the Stembogan situation at BK a bit. The Bowl was skiable a FEW times last season due to the heavy snowfall, which covered just enough of the brush and saplings to make the bowl skiable in SOME areas. However, the brush and saplings have grown tremendously due to all of the rain during the growing season. No matter how much snow BK receives this season, it won't be enough to cover the 10 to 15 feet high brush and saplings now covering the Stembogan Bowl.
(Anonymous)
December 11, 2003
I agree, the vertical of Deer Run is well over 400 feet if you include the mixing bowl area down to the loading area of the triple chair. As far as what the future holds for BK; I'm not all that optimistic. The frequent flooding over the past several months has really taken it's toll on the slopes at BK. A new owner would have to spend many millions of dollars to accomplish just minimal ground stabilization and environmental clean up. I'm not sure that there would be anyone or entity willing to take on all of the problems at BK.
(Anonymous)
December 12, 2003
Steve I'm not disagreeing with you. I dont think anyone is. I was just saying that Deer Run from start to finish is longer than 400 vertical feet.

You may be right about the bowl at Stemboggen in terms of not being skiable. The trail itself, without the bowl is good as well and if it doesn't get open then I'll be fairly upset.

I want Blue Knob to be sold just as much as you do. I'm just not willing to sacrifice my ski experience and go somewhere else. As of now I dont have the loot to buy it so there's not much else I can do.

(Anonymous)
December 12, 2003
Well if it gets bad to the point at BLue Knob, in which they dont open many of there trails, people wont go. Then they'll go out of business and put up on the auction block. People will only pay what its worth and that will include the millions in enviromental cleanup.

SO we all have to take a wait and see approach. If they can't or dont get many of the trails open for a long amount of time, then I nor many of the other normal blue knob patrons wont go. However as long as Blue KNob provides terrain that is unmatched in the mid atlantic, I will still go. So if its as bad as you say it is, then they shouldn't get much open for an extended period of time, then Blue KNob will be forced to put up or sell.

(Anonymous)
December 18, 2003
Jon, I agree, the future of Blue Knob (under the current owners) will be determined by economics. If the current customer base holds up, BK will continue operating as usual. The locals from nearby Altoona, PA will continue skiing BK no matter what the ski conditions are like because there is no other ski resort in the Altoona area and these folks don't want to drive to 7-Springs. However, the DC crowd is not skiing BK as much these days; in response, BK management has cut costs and increased logging operations, but you can only cut costs and log so much. The ski conditions haven't been so hot either; the grooming and snowmaking are marginal at best. Also, BK has opened up many of the "glades" this week (which have NO snowmaking) despite having only 10 inches of natural base!!! A person would have to be very lucky to avoid doing serious damage to their skis or board if they were to attempt to ski or board the open glades a BK right now! Why BK management has opened these slopes with so little snow is beyond me!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 19, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Steve:

I wonder if BK could eventually be run as a COOP similar to Mad River Glen in VT. The advantage of a coop is that every dollar made at the mountain goes right back into the mountain. Also, a coop might be able to create a non-profit foundation to raise money for big project like a lift upgrade. A coop could also raise volunteer labor in the summer for trail maintenance.

White Grass runs very successful trail maintenance volunteer days every fall. It's a fun activtity and more importantly, it allows serious skiers to scope out the goods in the warm months and plan their lines for the winter.

I wonder if any of the condo owners in the area have tried to broach this idea with the current ownership.

(Anonymous)
December 19, 2003
THe problem with a coop is that it would not be able to raise or invest the amount of money needed in snowmaking and enviromental cleanup.
(Anonymous)
December 20, 2003
It seems that the big Blue Knob scare has not panned out. They have the whole upper mountain open, run out, and say they'll have Lower High Hopes open by Sunday or Monday. Thats pretty damn good for this time of year.

Having said that, they have been helped out by a generous amount of natural snow, and we have yet to see Stemboggen or Extrovert Open. Blue Knob seems to have the most open in terms of miles of terrain of any resort within 3 hours.

(Anonymous)
December 21, 2003
Jon, I beg to differ with you on your assessment of Blue Knob. I was there today and things aren't very good. First of all, the snow base on a few of the slopes, especially Expressway and lower Deer Run is very thin with some exposed rocks. Second, although many of the "Glades" are reported as being open, the coverage is thin and a person would risk major damage to their equipment if they attempted even a single run. (I only saw one person attempting to ski a glade area today.) Part of the problem is the fact that little snow has been made at BK so far this season and much of the snowmaking has been devoted to the tubing park. On a positive note, I skied 7-Springs this morning and yesterday; the skiing at the Springs is incredible right now!!! ALL of the mountain is OPEN with mid-winter conditions. It was some of the best skiing that I have ever done there. Yesterday it snowed hard (in addition to the excellent base) and there was fresh powder on each run. 7-Springs makes more snow than any other ski area in North America; under ideal conditions they can pump 32,000 gallons of water per minute while making snow (a record!). No other resort can come even close to that figure. Granted, the are other places with more challenging runs and the lifts on the North side can be slow, but overall, the Springs can't be beat. Giant Steps compares favorably to most runs in the mid-Atlantic; I measured the vertical last season and it came in at just under 800 feet. At only 3.5 hours away from DC and Baltimore, the Springs is a good choice. By the way Jon, if you're going to ski BK this season, I recommend doing so sooner rather than later; I don't think that the thin base there is going to hold up particularly well should we have a warm spell or two. Keep in mind that (in my opinion) there are mostly rocks and mud under the snow base at BK unlike most mid-Atlantic ski areas which have a nice layer of grass under the snow base.
(Anonymous)
December 21, 2003
I was there today as well and I'd have to say that it was a decent day at Blue KNob. Certainly the base on Expressway and Deer Run, had exposed spots, yet all in all the coverage was reasonable and the ski conditions were dencent. I'm sure the base is not nearly what the ones at 7 springs were. Having said that the "glades" were similar as they usually are. THe coverage was thin, but certainly skiable as long as you dont have your brand new skis in them. I really only enjoy the Laurel Run Glades. The rest I dont normally venture in to. High Hopes opened as did Run Out. I took a duck into Lower NOrthway and that was a treat, though midway through the cover does get a little hairy, but the first few turns were heavenly.

They will certainly need to shore up their base before teh first thaw. I'd imagine them doing that before they end up opening anymore runs. Having said taht next on the list after Lower High HOpes is normally Extrovert. THat is one of the few runs that has a modern snowmaking system on it.

(Anonymous)
December 21, 2003
Jon, the coverage is rarely very good at Blue Knob. Yet, BK's snow report currently reports a much deeper snow base than 7-Springs! What a total joke BK's ski reports are! The base at 7-Springs is currently MUCH deeper than BK! And NO rocks at 7-Springs. Because Blue Knob doesn't make much additional snow after getting each trail open (other than "patching" extremely thin spots) the base usually ends up getting thinner and thinner throughout the season. That is, unless BK gets plenty of natural snow.
(Anonymous)
December 22, 2003
I went to Blue Knob a few years ago and it was the worst ski experience I've ever had in my life. Virtually no snow on the hill, huge (and I mean HUGE) sheets of ice on every run, absolutely no challenging runs open, and even the ski patrol guys were overtly surly (as if I needed another reason for my weekend "ski vacation" to suck).
I don't care what I've read about the supposed great skiing on the bottom half of Blue Knob, I will never waste my time going to a mountain that doesn't seem to care whether its guests actually have decent conditions. I was appalled at the crappy equipment they were trying to use for snowmaking. Unless we get truly legendary snow like we did last winter, then you really should skip Blue Knob and go to Seven Springs or Snowshoe or even Whitetail instead. Seven Springs might have painfully boring terrain, but at least they know how to make enough snow to cover it.
tromano
December 22, 2003
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
There seem to be a number of apologists for Blueknob here as well as a few "haters". I thought i would offer my $.02 on this issue. By listing a few "Things to remeber when sking the knob". Just to clarify I havent been to BK since last season but I think most people would have a better trip if they follow these guidelines.

1. BK typically has poor cover when compared to other resorts in the area. They make very little snow in relation to the ammount of terrain they need to cover. To make matters worse, what cover the do have is over a rocky surface. Thus gravel and other chunks often get mixed into the snow, even if the trial base is a good depth you can turn up rocks. This happens everywhere but the knob seems to be especially bad in this respect. Don't think twice, bring your rock skis. I would suggest renting skis as an alternative.

2. Dress warm, BK can be cold, really cold.

3. Don't reserve ahead, they dont usually have much snow so just play it by ear or a brief warm spell may ruin your plans. I suggest planing a trip to the knob at the last minute, and only when conditions are a their best, like right after a big snow.

4. Prepare experinece the best the midatlantic has to offer. If conditions are right there is no midatlantic resort more challengeing, thrilling, and interesting in terms of trails and terrain veriety than the knob.

5. Pack your lunches. The lodge doesn't seem to have anything good to eat. To be fair I havent tried it all, but I think you will have better luck if you brown bag it.

6. Bring the 4WD, you have to drive 1500 feet switch backs to the top of the mountain where the lodge is located. This can be a harrowing experience in bad conditions. At the very least, make sure your vehicle has good tires.

7. Each person has a differnet comfort level, some are "ok with" sliding over 4 inches of fresh snow over harsh gravel. Some people aren't. If you arrive and conditions aren't what you expect, don't despair. BK is probably 1 hour from all of the following resorts: Whitetail, Laurel Mtn., 7Springs, and Roundtop. If you catch really bad conditions and BK just isnt up to your own standards for comfort move on down the road, chances are that other places will have better conditions.

[This message has been edited by tromano (edited 12-22-2003).]

[This message has been edited by tromano (edited 12-22-2003).]

JohnL
December 22, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
With all this discussion of Blue Knob on DCSki, I'm certainly not going to be worrying about crowds this winter. Me, myself, and the mountain.
(Anonymous)
December 22, 2003
With rain in the forecast, the thin base at BK is likely to get much thinner. I've skied BK since the early 1960s, so I have an extensive knowledge of the place. So, let me explain why things have gotten so bad at BK. Before the massive logging operation of 4 or 5 years ago, the slopes at BK were mostly covered with a nice layer of grass, so if the base did happen to get thin there was just grass underneath. After the commercial logging operation tore up the entire mountain, the ski area failed to stabilize the ground and put seed down. At first, the logging damage to the ski slopes wasn't as bad as it might have been because there were chronic drought conditions for several years following the logging. Then came the rains of last Summer and Fall! The slopes were ripe for some extensive erosion and, boy, oh boy! some REAL EROSION hit Blue Knob. First Hurricane Isabel hit BK and then another storm brought even more rain to BK. Because the slopes at BK are relatively steep and there was just dirt and rocks without any erosion control measures such as water bars, the entire mountain suffered EXTENSIVE erosion. There are large rocks strewn everywhere and major gullies can be found on many of the main ski slopes, not to mention some of the glades (like the "Ditch Glade", which was completely destroyed). The damage is so extensive that PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), (Harrisburg Office) is now investigating the incredible damage that was done to the steams just below the loading areas of the ski lifts. I believe that it is now going be next to impossible to hold snow on many of the ski slopes at BK, particularly when there are warm spells. Of course, the jury is still out on this one, but I predict that it will be an early end to the ski season at BK.
(Anonymous)
December 22, 2003
Tromano is dead on with his tips. Although the need for a 4wd vehicle is a bit exaggerated unless its snowing as you're driving up.

BLue Knob can be the best or the worst, but with careful preparation you can ski more of the former. The age of skiing mountains before checking the conditions is over. This is especially true at Blue Knob.

(Anonymous)
December 23, 2003
Jon, just HOW do you suggest that we check the conditions at Blue Knob before driving up there. Can the BK ski reports be relied on to provide accurate information? I don't think so. A friend of mine decided to give BK a try a couple of years ago; he based his decision on the BK report, which claimed that ALL 34 trails were open with a packed powder surface and something like a 28 to 46 inch base. Guess what? When he arrived and started skiing BK at about 10:00 AM (after making the 3.5 hour drive from Annandale, VA) he found that only 6 or 7 of the major trails were open with large patches of "boiler plate" ice, and few, if any, of the glades were open as the National Ski Patrol (weekend volunteers) had already determined that the base in the glades was too thin to be safe. So if the BK ski reports are that unreliable, how can someone determine when it's a good time to ski Blue Knob? Perhaps one should just wait until a large snow storm has hit the entire mid-Atlantic region.
Roger Z
December 23, 2003
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
I had a fantastic time at Blue Knob in January last year. 18 degrees, two feet of snowpack, blasting down almost all of the natural snow runs, and I chunked the hell out of one of my skis (there were thin spots in the trees). The owner of the local ski shop was in despair when he saw them, but he bought some new P-tex this year that seems to have done the trick (perhaps it should be called "B-tex" for Blue Knob tree skiers).

It snows harder at Blue Knob than it does in the immediate countryside, best thing to look for before going there is a sustained cold period with lots of snow in it. Subtract a few inches of snowfall off anything Seven Springs gets for safe measure. A two foot storm doesn't cut the mustard if there wasn't snow on the ground before hand-- look for some type of base buildup in western PA followed by a one or two foot storm. We had eight inches of fresh powder the day I was there and the snow was lighter and deeper than anything I skied in Colorado the following week (they were having a snow drought).

I think that means Blue Knob is worth the trip about once every two or three years. The only upside is that they *do* make snow on Extrovert, and they build the base on that trail. The moguls are impressive, and you add the natural mid-Atlantic ice onto their near vertical sides and you're in for one heckuva ride.

finsoutoc
December 23, 2003
Member since 09/30/2003
172 posts
i've followed this thread for a awhile now and it really parallels my ongoing battles with roundtop. RT has great snowmaking, but their customer service to the intermediate and advanced customer is dismal. with some degree of success, i ve worked with them though the roundtop riders association that me and a few others formed last year. for me, RT is the only option since i live with in 20 mins of the lifts so i can ride everyday if i want to. what i dont quite get with the anti BK folks is why not just go somewhere else?
JohnL
December 23, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
I've almost always skied Blue Knob as a day trip. No need to book a room in advance, you can always find cheap accommodations near the turnpike exit for BK. From Annandale, VA I've always done the trip in under three hours, even when there's been snow on the roads (70, Turnpike and PA local.)

From 30+ years of skiing, I treat any snow/condition report from ski areas with the same degree of skepticism as stock tips offered over the Internet. One man's packed powder is another man's ice. Some areas are worse than others in the accuracy of their reporting; Blue Knob is probably on the poorer end of the spectrum. Roger Z. offers some common sense ways of determining how good the conditions may be. If you show up and the conditions are not up to snuff? No worries, mate. Just use the tougher conditions as a way to improve your skiing. Some of the whiney posters on this board wouldn't last two runs skiing with me; they'd be ditched faster than [insert your own example here.]

I've skied Blue Knob over a period of 10 years during a variety of snow years. I've posted most of this on numerous other threads, but I'll summarize it again.

1) Blue Knob is worth the occasional trip from DC even if only Extrovert and Expressway are open. Both have decent snowmaking on them; I've never had any complaints about their cover. If the odd rock or two is occasionally visible, so what? In addition, Extrovert is the premiere proving-ground trail in the mid-Atlantic.

2) Lower Route 66, Lower Shortway and Edgeset are natural snow trails. God bless 'em. They're only open when there has been enough recent snowfall. Expect some loose rocks and brush, especially after numerous skiers have been down the trails. I've never had any significant ski damage problems on those trails; the coverage is comparable to what you'd expect on a Vermont natural snow trail.

3) Snow making on Stembogan is not what it should be, especially since the trail is geared towards intermediates. It tends to be icy with some exposed rocks and debris in the middle of the trail. I just ski around the rocks and other junk. An intermediate won't have as much fun on the trail as they would if the cover was better.

4) I rarely ski the other groomed runs, so I really couldn't care less what their conditions are like.

5) The cover in the intermediate Glades is normally very good. There will be an exposed rock or two, but remember, you are skiing in nature's turf. You normally have to wait until January or later until the snow pack builds up. Only a fool would expect the cover to be good in December.

6) Blue Knob is aggressive about opening terrain (trails or glades), even if the snow cover is marginal. I prefer it that way. No need to duck ropes and risk having your ticket clipped. If it's open, don't necessarily expect the cover to be good.

7) The Expert Glades are rock-ski only terrain. Been like that for at least 5+ years. Even after 1-2 foot dumps.

MRPLOW
December 23, 2003
Member since 12/23/2003
27 posts
My 2 cents. Blue Knob is obviously not for everyone. I myself love it, so does my girlfriend who's only been skiing for 2 years. To add a few more positive points about the knob.

* great place for varying levels of skiers to stay together. all the trails can end at the double, all lifts end up at the top.

* One of the best gladed runs is almost alaways skiable, in fact in the dozen of times I've been there it alway's been skiable, even when lower mountain is not open. This is the Blue Trail that doesn't get a lot of action because it is out of bounds and requires you to side step across 2 roads, it is excellent and very peacful, I would call it almost like heaven in there.
This was very skiable at end of March last year, along with the ditch and east wall glades, though I never have seen boneyard or mineshaft skiable.

(Anonymous)
December 23, 2003
MRPLOW, I don't know where you've been or what gladed slope you thought that you were skiing at Blue Knob. But the "Blue Trail" area was completely logged 2 Summers ago; it was some of the most destructive logging that I have ever seen. Since then, the Blue Trail hasn't been skiable. If fact, it is hard to even walk through that area in the off-season when there isn't snow as there are huge piles of logging waste, large rocks and mud everywhere! Furthermore, the Ditch Glade area is now so washed out and covered with large rocks and root balls that it would take at least 4 feet of snow to make it skiable. I don't know anyone who has skied the Blue Trail during the past 2 seasons and the Ditch Glade area has only been open a few days over the same period. And, nearly everyone I know who tried to ski the Ditch Glade tore up their skis.
MRPLOW
December 23, 2003
Member since 12/23/2003
27 posts
No here's some improvements that I would like to see at the Knob, none of these ar giant grand plans, just some basic things that should help the mountain out.

* More snowmaking for Stembogen! After Mambo, Jack Rabbit, and Extrovert this should be the knob's priority for opening. This is a great slope and should be the knob's marquee slope.

* Somehow make the condo's ski in/ski out. It's possible to ski in if the snow is fast but no way to ski out.

* Open a observation deck/ small bar overlooking the stembogen crossover, this would be great considering the action and wipeouts at this location. Would be a great place to kick back rater then the dull current bar.

(Anonymous)
December 23, 2003
Jon, what happened at Blue Knob IS a real shame! But, I don't think that anyone on this site really understands the gravity of what has happened to BK. The occasional environmental problems at other ski areas pale in comparison to the level of environmental damage that has occurred at BK (and the watershed area just below the ski area).
Roger Z
December 23, 2003
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
"But, I don't think that anyone on this site really understands the gravity of what has happened to BK."

Maybe it's just me, but I find that comment a bit insulting. I've been reading numerous BK trashers on numerous threads on this site and if I or any other site users don't understand the gravity of what has happened at BK, the fault is with those who have written, not with those who have read.

To the contrary, I think most of us are well aware of what has happened at BK and are not proud of it. However this site is about skiing and the quality thereof. Some people happen to enjoy the skiing at BK (sometimes or quite often), and it is meant as no insult to anyone or offense to any ecosystem to proclaim that. Constant trashing of BK and arguing with readers who proclaim anything but unflagging dislike of the ski area is not going to win any sympathy.

MRPLOW
December 23, 2003
Member since 12/23/2003
27 posts
Steve V. you've totally lost all credibility with me.

No doubt I noticed the logging on the blue trail/jack rabbit glades. It was the second or third week in March and about a week after the last major snowfall, so I no these slopes were skiable during this time period, plus it was about 45 degree's the day before I arrived and throughout my 3 day stay, it was obvious that it had been skiied regularly to or else it wouldn't of had moguls on it. I have no idea what the trail looks like in the summer, but it works just fine in the winter. I also suffered no ski damage, nor have I ever on the blue trail, if you see a rock, root, or tree branch ski around or over it and get on with the run. In fact the Blue trail/jack rabbit trail alway's has more snow cover then the rest of the glades, due to its shelter from the wind and sun. I was also at the knob the year before and blue trail and blue point were skiable and skied regularly.

I don't like being called a liar nor would I have any reason to lie. So you've got me all worked up.

[This message has been edited by Scott (edited 12-24-2003).]

MRPLOW
December 23, 2003
Member since 12/23/2003
27 posts
Previous post about the bar was supposed to be at the extrovert crossover, not stembogen.
(Anonymous)
December 23, 2003
MRPLOW, I didn't mean to get you all worked up, but believe me, I DO know what I'm talking about when it comes to Blue Knob, and, like it nor not, you can no longer ski the Blue Trail or the Ditch Glades! Please go up to BK and check things out; you'll see that I AM CORRECT. And Z, I can tell you that no one is "bashing" BK! Because soil conservation and other enviromental issues like logging affect skiing and ski conditions, it IS appropriate to discuss them here when these issues have specific effects on a ski area, ie: Blue Knob. In the case of BK, bad environmental policies have had such a negative effect on the skiing that the survival of the resort is now in question. This is something that NEEDS to be discussed so that other ski areas don't make the same mistakes as Blue Knob. Also, by discussing these issues, perhaps someone will find a way to get the Commonwealth of PA to mitigate some of the environmental damage at BK and, in the process, improve the skiing. Furthermore, BK sets within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is noteworthy to all of us in the DC area.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
December 23, 2003
Member since 03/5/2004
3,062 posts
MRPLOW,
I enjoy Scott's "DCSKI" website very much and look forward to informed discussions about skiing in the mid-Atlantic area. Your recent comment, full of unnecessary 4 letter words, carries discussion to unnecessary gutter levels, and is to be condemed. If Scott has a way to ban a particular respondent, then he should give you the thumb, at least a cooling off period.
Now, enough Blue Knob emotional discussion. Ask Scott to investigate and give us all the truth, but this constant battering about management and its goals is nothing but conjecture, with a smathering of facts. We DCSKI readers and users are not likely to get Blue Knob attention.
ENOUGH already....And Merry Christmas!
(Anonymous)
December 23, 2003
RogerZ, I wish to explain the statement that I made in a previous post regarding that I didn't think anyone on this site really understood the gravity of what happened at Blue Knob. From what I can tell, no one (other than myself) posting on DCSki has hiked the Blue Knob ski slopes and the watershed just below the slopes (down to the Bulls Creek waterfall) in the off-season. I have done so with distinguished members of the Sierra Club on several occasions; over 600 pictures of the environmental damage have been taken and studied. So, given that the vast majority (if not all) of the posters on this site haven't actually seen most of the destruction that I've referred to, I made the statement about others not fully understanding the gravity of what happened to BK. Therefore, my statement was based on simple logic and not an attempt to insult anyone. At any rate, I think that I have done a pretty good job of covering the issues at BK. Therefore, I'm going to move-on to other issues for the most part. However, it would be interesting to hear some trip reports from BK during the course of this winter.
(Anonymous)
December 24, 2003
Steve I'd say that happens at most resorts. Having said that, its still no excuse and its a real shame. The sensible tips given here are important. Furthermore, as has been noted, there are few better ways to work on your skiing, than going on icy or tough conditions. If you can barrel down Extrovert, with its car size moguls at a 39 degree pitch, on an icy day, you will be able to do just about any trail in the east.

Just to add what's been said, Jack Rabbit and mambo Alley normally also have good conditions. Dont get excited about seeing the lower glades on the map, because they're never open.

JohnL
December 24, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Steve V.,

Wise decision to move on to other topics.

You've made some good points about Blue Knob, however, you've posted far too frequently about the same topic in virtually the same manner. Have you posted about anything else? We got your point the first time. The DCSki posters I know something about are a very well-educated bunch.

While you obviously believe in and are passionate about your beliefs, at some point your techniques at convincing others become counter-productive.

I'll be visiting Blue Knob this winter, and if the conditions suck, I'll state so on this site. If they rock, I'll likewise do the same. Remember that snow doesn't completely hide environmental damage.

I'm 100 percent with Roger Z. on this one.

(Anonymous)
December 24, 2003
JohnL, I agree with you 100%.
Scott - DCSki Editor
December 24, 2003
Member since 10/10/1999
1,096 posts
MRPLOW: I edited your post from earlier to remove profanity. I don't like to censor discussions on DCSki, as I try to keep an open environment for healthy discussion, but I have to draw the line at profanity. DCSki is a family site and is read by skiers and snowboarders of all ages. Please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks,

- Scott

MRPLOW
December 24, 2003
Member since 12/23/2003
27 posts
Sorry about the profanity, temporary slip. I'll keep it clean from now on.

I just didn't like being told that I was lieing about skiing certain slopes last year.

To all knob hardcore skiers, I'll see you on the blue trail/jack rabbit glades this year, maybe even blue point if I feel like a little cross country to get there.

Hopefully there still skiable!

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