Wintergreen TR - 1/24/2007
Hey all! New user here. I've enjoyed and benefited from reading all of your trip reports in the past, so I thought I'd start posting my own this season.
I was at Wintergreen today for my first ski day of the season. I think by this point last year I already had 10 days! Things are certainly recovering though. Weather today was in the 20s, cloudy with occasional clearings.
They had just opened the Highlands a few days ago, so I headed straight there and stayed until they closed it down at 4:15. Upper Cliffhanger was open with good coverage. Some hardpack at the top headwall, but skier's left was nice loose dry snow all the way down. Lower Cliff was still closed and they haven't blown anything on it yet, so Lower Wild Turkey was the only way down. Great conditions for its length, no hardpack at all.
From the looks of the rest of the main trails, Devil's Elbow & Upper Wild Turkey are almost done -- in fact I saw some snowboarders ducking the "gates" and heading down anyways. Nothing at all on Lower Cliff, Turkey Chute, or Outer Limits except the general 1/2" dusting the resort had received that morning and overspray from the other trails.
After Highlands closed down I checked out Dobie briefly (good conditions), checked out the new "learning area" being readied (a near-flat snow field with what looked like a magic carpet lift at the edge), and headed to Big Acorn.
Eagles Swoop had great conditions, and Sunrise has to be the sweetest little short diamond on the hill. Over in a flash, but it's fun and had great light & fast snow covering it today. The "Tequila" cut-in was also open. Tyro is almost ready, nothing at all yet on Big Acorn Trail.
They appear to have painted the lift poles on Big Acorn. I hope that doesn't mean they're going to keep that slow clunker. With another of those fast 6-packs the short 500'-something vertical on Big Acorn would be interesting for more than an hour.
How steep are the blacks and double blacks in wintergreen?
Well, thanks to Ski Stats I can say objectively that the Highlands lift has an average grade of 16 deg / 29% @ 1003 ft vertical. Big Acorn is only 530 ft vert, but is much shorter so it actually ends up being "steeper" at 18 deg / 32%. I haven't measured, but I suspect certain sections have up to a 35-40 degree grade.http://www.skistats.com/slopes_detail.asp?state=VA
Those stats make it the steepest resort in VA, and in the top few in PA, WV, & MD.
Subjectively I'd say it's decent for the area. If you're an advanced skier, you'll find them enjoyable trails you can ski fast on, I think comparable to and even better than offerings at Liberty & Whitetail such as "Bold Decision" when everything is open. Gunbarrel at Roundtop is supposedly 50 degrees in one section, but I haven't made it up to that resort yet.
Cliffhanger is not appreciably more difficult than the other diamonds, though. I've never been sure why they call it a double-black. It does have a "surprise!" steep ending in Lower Cliffhanger to keep you on your toes.
The best steeps in the local area I've found so far are Extrovert & the rest of the technically challenging lower mountain at Blue Knob, Off the Wall at Timberline, and Lower Shays at Snowshoe.
One thing I should note:
Wintergreen purposely divides the ski area into the "beginner" (Blue Ridge Express), "intermediate" (Big Acorn), and "advanced" (Highlands) areas. Because of the fact that they don't want beginners over in the Highlands, they mark ALL the trails over there as "expert" -- even if they don't deserve the title -- to discourage them from trying it as there really is no easy way down.
So, looking at the map, you can mentally scratch off Loggers Alley, Cross Cut, Hydraulic, and The Gap as they are all relatively short connector trails. The main trails are Cliffhanger, Wild Turkey, Outer Limits, and Devil's Elbow.
I've read elsewhere that the steepest parts of lower cliffhanger top out at around 23 degrees, which would correspond to a 42% grade. This is compatible with your estimate of a 35-40% max grade.
I was at wintergreen yesterday morning (orange hat, green jacket) and I agree, conditions were pretty nice. And I am glad to hear someone else give props to Sunrise.
Yes, props to sunrise - i love it. Per the highlands, the top half of the lift line definately is steeper than the bottom half, but the real draw is the length of the slopes and the relative lack of liftline (all day Saturday it was ski-on or close to it). And don't dismiss loggers alley since it is the only way to avoid the line at the blue ridge lift and it sometimes has a good kicker about 2/3 down on the left. Hydraulic is nice as its the the only other 'narrow' trail left at WG (Ban the widening! Plant more trees!)
Welcome to the board, there are several on here that are WG regulars.
Nice report, I couldn't have said it better myself! I was there Wednesday too, and it was the best day of the season so far for me (#6). I have been primarily lapping Eagle's Swoop for the previous trips, so the additional trails were really appreciated and the great snow was a bonus. I probably enjoyed Sunrise the best (especially the top), but did spend a lot of time on the Highlands. By next week, they ought to have another 3-4 trails open which will be great.
Maybe we ran across one another yesterday -- I was wearing a blue/gray North Face jacket, blue helmet, and orange Fischer RX-8 skis. I alternated between fast carving and doing drills to improve my stance, so I would either have looked like a speeding maniac or a granny depending on the run. Actually, towards the end of the day the styles converged into a tired speeding granny.
skier219, the other Craig