(You can either rank them or give a grade to each one.)
I enjoy skiing around here to teach others and warm up for western trips. But I cannot stand waiting 5 minutes for a lift.
Thus far I've gone to mostly Blue Knob due to distance and cold weather. Whitetail was so crowded once last year I wished I didn't go at all.
I'm curious to hear what you all think
The key to avoid crowds on the weekend at close in resorts like liberty and whitetail is to be on the lift when it first opens. Ski all that you want on the front side before 10 am. Hang out on the back side / expert pod till arround noon and then call it a day... Roundtop is probabbly the least crowded of the close in, resorts.
Personally, I've never experienced much more than a 2 minute lift line at Canaan in my entire life. Timberline can back up, but you'll wait less than 5 minutes if you are riding the double (soon to be triple).
Snowshoe it seems, the lines on the basin can build up, especially in the beginner areas. The Western Territory is usually pretty skier-jam free.
The only time I was at Seven Springs I did experience lift lines. Not major, but not minor.
My only experience at Roundtop and Whitetail were not good for lines. Blue Knob can be manageable on the weekends. As you ski down, just look were the crowds are going and go the other way. Since it is a top-down mountain, you can figure out whether to ski to the bottom or get on the lift at mid mountain.
I totally agree with tromano. Be at Liberty for the first chair up the mountain & immediately head to the back side. Ski non-stop till 11 or 12 & head home.
Mid-week days are always completely empty & M-Th nights are on the light side as well.
I agree that Snowshoe has the lift lines from hell on weekends, but there are ways to get in some decent runs even on the jam-packed bowl-side greens:
- Have a good dose of jet fuel (coffee) and be there waiting when the ropes drop at 8:30. Head for the long greens on the Northern Tract to your left.
- As the morning progresses move southward toward Widowmaker. Try to stay off Ballhooter lift; it may be a high-speed lift but the time waiting in line nullifies any gain in lift speed.
- Around 10 am go in for breakfast. Take your time, enjoy your meal.
- 11 am head back out. You can start hitting Ballhooter around 11:30 when everyone starts to head in for lunch. Or go over to the Western Territories for Shay's and Cupp.
- Ski until 1:30-2. About this time the crowds will start returning from lunch. Head over to Silver Creek for the rest of the day ... or ... go in, eat, have a hot shower, a nap and rig for night skiing at Silver Creek.
- Sunday after about 1 pm the place is practically a ghost town. We have had some of the best skiing in the MidAtlantic on snowy Sunday afternoons at Snowshoe.
- The final trick is, if you have the bucks, get an instructor for the day or half day. The instructors are allowed to butt in and go to the head of the lift line. Pretty expensive, but good for refining your techniques while getting in some intense skiing.
As I am the early riser and I do the breakfasts, my only difficulty is getting a bunch of tired party mosters to make fresh tracks at 8:30. My policy for this year is buffet. Can leave them at the table and if they don't go, they can page me on FRS radio...
1. Greens in the early morning (most beginners get a later start).
2. Ballhooter/Grabhammer during early brunch, you will have lines, but you can tell whether to go to Ballhooter or Grabhammer chair based on your previous run down. Besides, this is when most people are over warming up on the greens.
3. Work you way over to Widowmaker around 10-10:30... Ballhooter is getting too crowded around this time, but Widowmaker stays pretty uncrowded all day. You can stay here until about 12:15-12:45 and occasionally go over to Ballhooter and come back.
4. Head in for lunch late... by this time you ought to be REALLY hungry. By late I mean like 12:30ish, that way you'll get your food fast and a seat.
5. You're done eating by 1-1:15 and now have two options: head over to Silver Creek or hit the Western Territory. If there's powder, switch the Western Territory for Widowmaker in the morning and go ski at Silver Creek in the afternoon. If not, its up to you.
6. Quit when you feel like it. You've gotten your runs in on Cupp and Shay's now, maybe a lot of air on Mountaineer... when you start to get tired, call it quits, re-energize and head to Silver Creek for some night skiing and terrain parking. When you get overtired you tend to get injured.
My personal Timberline strategy:
1. Triple lift in the morning. This will stay uncrowded almost ALL morning, until about brunch time. Get your runs in on Dew Drop and Almost Heaven early.
2. Ride the "Vader". The Vader usually doesn't get into full swing until about 9:30am... so when the lines at the triple build, go to the double... until lunch.
2. Early or late lunch. Either get lunch around 11:15 if you started early, or 12:30 if you aren't that hungry at 11.
3. Early lunch means no crowds right after lunch. Late lunch means no crowds after about 11. Use this to your advantage to get any runs down the intermediates. Now, while its uncrowded, start mixing in the double-blacks (or poaching Cherry Bowl ). You can do this earlier, if there's good powder. If not, wait till the bumps soften up.
4. Ride the double ALL afternoon. There will be a line starting around 1:30 and going until about 3... this is when I usually hike the park or any sort of play area, or just wait them out.
5. Ride the double after 3, until about 3:30 when the triple crowd lessens, then ride either lift the rest of the day. Good to ride the park on Lower Dew Drop after about 3 and get a lift ride back up.