Angel Drop had really good coverage and it is quite the sight to stop halfway down that run and see one skier about 200 yards ahead of you and no one at all behind you. That trail normally is more crowded than the Beltway on Saturdays. The Stalker run (the slow quad) had the best snow the whole day thanks to its northern-ish exposure; but this time of year the sun is low enough to really only bake the slopes for a few hours. It did a little damage to Limelight but I think Angel Drop and the Terrain Park fared pretty well.
Didn't get much sense of how much snow had been laid down on the "expert" side of Whitetail, but the Ridge Runner trail looked decently covered. If the temps stay cold over the next three days, they might get enough snow on Exhibition and Drop In to get that side open; on the other hand they claimed to have been making snow on Fanciful too and it was hard to see any proof of that.
What else? There were deer grazing in the tall grass on Fancifull at four p.m., while across the road a farmer was shooting his shotgun and down in the parking lot a car alarm went off. That's the fringe suburbs of DC in a nutshell! There was about six inches of snow on the ground overall so there was a nice wintry feel to the day despite the 45 degree temps. I knocked off 39 runs in six hours and had to stop because I was exhausted; probably could have done another 4-5 runs if it was later in the season (this mentioned to show how empty the place was-- and they were running the summit lift slow)!
The only complaint I have is the damn prices at the Whitetail cafeteria. At the end of the ski day I always like a cup of coffee. I bought a small coffee at the Whitetail cafeteria for TWO DOLLARS AND ELEVEN CENTS. The overpriced Starbucks small coffee is 1.47. The small coffee I got at the gas station on the way up was 73 cents. This confirms that I will never eat lunch or any other meal at Whitetail as long as a I ski there. Fortunately the lunch room was empty yesterday so no one minded that I was eating a "picnic lunch" there; though it was nice enough to eat outside too.
On the whole, though, if you're in the DC area and can play hookie during the week, Whitetail is as good a place to be as any!
Nice report. Based on it, a friend of mine will be taking his family to WT.
One bone to pick. $2.00 may be a lot for a small coffee, but you have to remember that the cafeteria is a big revenue center for a resort. More importantly, it's a cost center that a skier can avoid. I'd rather see a resort charge high food prices than see it try to pass more costs on to the consumer via higher priced lift tickets. If you don't like the prices at the WT cafeteria, you have the option of getting in your car and driving to the Golden Arches. As for me, I'll gladly pay $2 for the convenience of enjoying a hot drink right at the ski resort. If I feel cheap, I'll stash a few cold drinks from home in my pockets and live off of them.
Resorts like 7 Springs can charge less for food because they do a higher volume business and also because they sell beer. Beer sales bring in a lot of revenue.
WT, because it is in a dry town, can not make as much from drink sales because they do not sell hard drinks so give the place a break on the coffee prices.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-18-2003).]
Speaking of cheap eats, though: there is a Ruby Tuesday in Hagerstown (take I-70 to I-81 N, get off on the first exit, make a right at the stop light and a left at the next light; you'll see the Ruby Tuesday on the right) that runs a near-permanent 2-1 beer special. Buy a 12 ounce draft and get the second draft for a penny. Yuengling never tastes better than after a day outdoors... except when it's cheaper per drink than the coffee you just bought.
Hope your friend and his family have a good time getting nearly first tracks over on the Experts Choice Quad!
To be honest, though, I generally just want to get home after skiing and am not that interested in apres ski. A quick soda in the Whitetail cafeteria suits me fine.
Question: how did you manage to do 39 runs on your first day? That's an impressive achievement.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-19-2003).]
I've also been running 2 1/2 miles twice a week. Doesn't do much for ski muscles but it helps for stamina. And, finally, Whitetail really was THAT empty. I don't think I stopped behind another person in line once on the high speed quad.
Also spent a lot of time just trying to get form back. I have a bad habit of turning with my hips, which leaves you leaning back with your legs extended going into your next turn. It is also, as I have discovered in the past, a very good way to get yourself flipped around backward tumbling head over heels when the pitch is greater than 35 degrees. Would rather work that problem out now than when the stakes are a little higher.
Conditions were good but not quite as nice as this time last year. One icy spot on Limelight underneath a gun and an icy patch on the Snowpark (big green hill) slightly marred both runs. Angledrop had nice soft snow to bottom, not counting the jump side of things which I only briefly meandered through as a spectator.
Drop-In had plenty of soft snow, and Exhibition was firm, and took an edge nicely. Unfortunately electrical problems on that side of things left them closed until around 1pm (that's when i heard they were open)
Can't see that they have enough coverage to really open any of the other blues, and definitely not Farside. Bold Decision possibly could be opened but looked ungroomed.
I look forward to some more skiing early week and hope the brief warmup doesn't make a big dent...
Crowds were manageable, lifts line minimal at least under high speed quad & expert side. No complaints really!
My little brothers and dad are up from Florida this year and they want to ski. They went to Liberty a couple years ago but I might try to talk them into Whitetail. The only catch is two or my three brothers are beginner/novice skiers. Anyone know which local hill (Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail) has the least deadly beginner terrain? I was teaching my girlfriend last year to ski at Roundtop and we spent more time looking over our shoulders for oncoming six-year old rockets than we did actually learning how to ski. Sometimes I think the most dangerous run on the mountains are the beginner trails.
Actually, I think statistics back up your hunch that more accidents happen on beginner trails. They're often smaller and more crowded with inexperienced skiers/boarders, and that's a perfect recipe for accidents. Beginners really need more space to themselves, and unfortunately you have to go out west to get really long, wide, uncrowded beginner slopes.
Whitetail has pretty wide slopes, and a nice separation from beginner to advanced. (It's very easy to understand the layout of the mountain -- easiest trails on the left, growing steeper as you go right.) My only concern about Whitetail for beginners is that there's a big jump in difficulty between Velvet and Snow Park. Velvet is a mostly-flat bunny hill, but Snow Park, while still a beginner, is quite a bit steeper than Velvet. It would be nice if there was something in between -- I think skiers often master Velvet but aren't quite ready to take on Snow Park.
However, with shaped skis it might be easier to make that jump than when I was teaching some beginners a few years ago. The best advice I can offer is to go on an uncrowded weekday. (And by that, I mean almost any weekday except probably not between Christmas and New Year's.) Monday and Tuesday *should* be pretty light on crowds at local resorts, I would guess. On weekdays you might have the slopes almost all to yourselves, which is much less intimidating (and less dangerous) for beginners.
Wisp -- a bit farther away -- has the great Wisp Trail and Possum trails, which are very long beginner trails. Those are two good trails for teaching because it gives beginners a good chance to link a lot of turns without making a short run, riding the lift, making a short run, etc.
Their bunny hill (for never ever's & learning how to turn) is the best terrain I have ever seen. Very WIDE, completely secluded slope with a slow-moving quad. They also just added 2 magic carpets for the stages before turning.
After they master that run - take them to the mid-station of the "Alpine Quad". This will get them to an excellent "Step 2" area that is usually very empty.
Next in the succession is the "Dipsy Double" chair. It's the small double lift that only goes part way up the hill next to the beginner hill. Again - nice terrain. If you turn left off of the chair traffic is rather low & a bit less difficult terrain. Off of the right side, you'll catch the bottom half of blue-streak. Consider this the 4th stage. The only problem with lower blue, is you have to watch for the occasional "blue bombers" who don't seem to realize how much speed they can carry coming down the upper half.
My next step is to grap the "Alpine Quad" again to go hit Dipsey Doodle from the top. however - that's usually only for a run or 2 since it can get a bit crowded.
After that - head back to the top of the mountain. Take the first part of Dipsey Doodle, but immediately after the big S-turn at the top, take the small cut-away over to "Whitney's Way". Whitney's Way is a great next step and is not only a "Family Ski Area" with extra ski patrol to keep the speeds lower - but doesn't see as much traffic, since the entrance is a bit narrow (don't worry - it opens up quickly).
The best part of that run is that it leads them to the back side with the shorter lift lines, etc.
In my mind I always roughly rate Whitetail as having 2 bunnies, 1 green run (snow park), 4 blue runs, and 3 black runs... liberally adding drop-in as a run, adds another black.
So it does seem short on the beginner side really & when they moved the jumps and everything onto lower Angledrop, one side effect was the huge influx of beginner-ish boarders onto that trail just to get to the jump area...
It *seems* like they could put in a puma tow just up to the jump area and that would drop 50% of the traffic down on that trail as well as take the load of the main quad...
I'm betting Sno-time is looking at higher return-on-value investments right now. Probably adding another couple trails-- as much as we all would like it-- would not do nearly as much to stabilize and/or improve revenue as ramping up snowmaking and grooming and building new condo units. I think we'll see some new runs with time (I can think of four new runs on the front face that, without additional lifts, would probably take care of a lot of the trail overcrowding on the weekends there. Couple that with a new drop-in to the expert side and that should alleviate Angel Drop a bit as well), but probably not in the next couple years.
I like your idea about adding a surface lift for the terrain park. That would be pretty inexpensive a great way to improve the skiing/riding experience for everyone on the mountain. Something for Snotime to think about...
Surface lifts are probably trickier/harder on the legs for snowboarders than skiers. But I'm sure a lot of the boarders would prefer to avoid waiting in line @ the quad.
On the DCSki Poll, I posted several recommendations for improvements to Whitetail's terrain park. A surface lift is a great idea that I hadn't thought about.
I think the terrain park will become more and more important to Whitetail's business. Hopefully they'll pick up on some of the improvements suggested on DCSki.
[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 12-23-2003).]
Yes, a belt conveyor lift that comes in sections, and can accomodate a variety of terrain. I'd say three or four 10 M sections should do it...
So, if they roped off the top part of the trail head there, and then took the little pass-thru lane out, and put these things in, they'd have it...
Plus its removable post snow... cool. Now, I bet they install it for free and PAY YOU. Yep, it can't get any better! ;-)
(no i don't have anything to do with these people...)
Seems Snotime should be able to shift a J-bar over pretty easily from Roundtop or Liberty if the length is comparable. The other thing they could do is instead of running the lift from the base, run it only in the terrain park area. That would still mean people initially lining up in the quad but would slow down those that were looping just to hit the park.
However, all this discussion still leaves the half pipe sitting awkwardly and alone over on the Snowpark lift...
[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 12-23-2003).]
Another thing I'd like to see is a lift card system similiar to the Peaks program Vail Ski Company has. In that way, I could simply pre-pay for some number of ski days and then just enter at the lifts, where they scan the card.
Maybe for advantage card holders, you pre-pay for 5 8 hour days and they put 6 days worth on there. (or is it 6 days and the 7th is free?)
In fact, I'd maybe even argue to have the whole thing done as total hours. The hours count down as you use it. If you ski two hours, (say it rounds up to nearest hour or something), then its two hours out of your credits. If you ski for 10, well that's 10.
Anyway, regardless of that little idea. The electronic ticket works great. For example, I just happen to have a Peaks card from a previous trip, and last year when I decided to take a brief detour to Tahoe on a business trip, I simply bought my 2 days of skiing online using my peaks card. Then, the day of, I simply showed up at the gondola and was scanned in, ready to go.
No ticket window lines or anything, nice!
Overall the conditions were soft but not slushy and made for easy skiing. Underneath this in places was hard-pack, semi-ice. It took an edge fine though (no falls) -- so no real ice.
Soft spots here and there and exposed rocks in a few places on Bold Decision and possibly other trails.
A few big bumps cropped up on Bold Decision and by the end of the day the beginnings of some bumps on Exhibition -- likely all mowed over to redistribute snow during grooming (?)
Coverage was about 75% of trail (width) on Limelight and Exhibition. Bold Decision and Angledrop area were completely covered however (less direct sun). Everything else had pretty good snow (didn't ski on them however so just from looking), except of course any previously unopened trails which were down to grass.
The warm spring-like conditions were actually quite fun and a nice break from the winter duds I thought.
Still I hope they can make enough spot coverage over the next few days to keep what is open, open...
Looks like Wednesday will be at RT for a last warm-up day before heading out to Utah next weekend, which I am proud to say we've finally seemed to synch the vacation up with the snowstorms: four feet of new snow in the last three days with another 1-2 feet on the way tomorrow and more again on Thursday. Going to RT or WT will be an interesting experience in compare/contrast!
Hoping our cold weather comes back soon. I'd love to meet you for Jan 1 skiing but that's probably not the best idea after staying up until one a.m. drinking. Thinking of heading to Annapolis for New Years Eve but am not committed yet.
Hope everyone had a good Christmas!
Well maybe we should all just head West, I'm up for it!!!
BTW, anyone know how to sharpen skis? Maybe I should start a new thread...
Still depressed 'bout the weather although it helps my golf game I suppose...
Now, about that above freezing temp snow... ;-)
BTW, I decided to haul my skis over to Ski Chalet and have them replace the factory grind and sharpen the edges back to factory spec. My local ski shop last winter flat sanded the bottom, and knocked the edges down quite a bit on the tip & tail which ticked me off. On the other hand, I really couldn't tell one hoot of difference on the slopes and the edges were sharp at all other points... So we'll see how it goes. But this is the last TIME before I learn to do this myself, except of course I can't replicate the factory grind at home I don't think (the bottom had a very shallow "dimpling" or scalloping, visible when held at an angle, assume this makes 'em faster, kinda around the same principle as is used on boat hulls these days... (shark skin) )
Blake -- check. Not sure how it will pan out but I will definitely give it try.
Because I signed up for the Diann Roffe thing. I have taken lessons from her for 2 seasons and have really enjoyed it. So, I thought, why not again? there was even some mention of video taping the skier, which means I get to see myself flailing around like an idiot on the slopes -- not sure this is a good thing.
Brings to mind the other day, just happened to flip it to OLN and they had some SuperG thing on -- women's superG. First time an american made the podium in like 5 yrs they said (i guess this would be some part of the super-g circuit?) Anyway, slow-mo video playback was really cool. I mean those chicks can ski, no doubt. And the skis, wow, they oscillate all over the place at those speeds, amazing they work at all!
Oh well, for a moment, I thought it was winter time...