TR: Blueknob ... if you don't know
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tromano
February 12, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Blue knob is the most notorious ski area in the region. They logged their montain and turned it into a steaming heap of well dead trees. The lodge is an eyesore, and the trails are well known for crap snow conditions with rocks as predominant terrain features. The lift attendants sport multiple piercings (Don't those ice up fellas?). So I decided to join forces with JohnL and make the annual pilgrimage to visit the ugly stepsister of the mid-atlantic. We drove in, met up, shot some tasteless stills, and made our escape.

We started by visiting the heavily eroded and rock strewn glades. These have been well documented here on DCSKi. Totally unskiable IMO.



Taken from the edge of Stembogen bowl. I am pretty sure all those trees are dead.


Little traffic on RT.66


East Wall... If you don't know...


Madeline Cowers in fear, desperate to save her bases and edges on shortway.


Oh no!!! Those 152CM Slalom skis were never the same after that.


It looks like some vandals have been pruning trees on state park land. I am pretty sure there is a stiff fine for any would be tree surgeons. And if there isn't there dang well ought to be.


OH! HO! It looks like the culprit is none other than DCSki's JohnL.


It would be a beautiful and pristine glade if the whole area is sadly polluted and defiled by logging waste... Oh the humanity!




As you can see no one except the truly disturbed should ever under any circumstances ski Blueknob.

They did seem to improve the food since my last visit. The bread bowl chili was tasty.
yellowsnow
February 13, 2007
Member since 12/15/2005 🔗
267 posts
Ouch. Somewhat less than subtle.
Nice photos though.
Roger Z
February 13, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Most of those shots just look like thin snow cover. I'd be hard pressed to conclude from any of these photos that there's some kind of rampant environmental destruction going on. Would natural snow trails with a foot or less snow cover would look any different anywhere else?
JimK - DCSki Columnist
February 13, 2007
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,692 posts
Thanks for the TR. Timely. Is that Shortway or 66 in the shot where we are looking over Madeline's shoulders? Coverage looks pretty good there. Hopefully BK and others are getting some big natural in the next 36 hrs.
Where was the first shot taken, off Edgeset?
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tromano
February 13, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Quote:

Most of those shots just look like thin snow cover. I'd be hard pressed to conclude from any of these photos that there's some kind of rampant environmental destruction going on. Would natural snow trails with a foot or less snow cover would look any different anywhere else?




Quote:

Ouch. Somewhat less than subtle.
Nice photos though.




Thanks yellow. Honestly last saturday was the best ever off piste conditions I have seen at BK in the last 3 years. The issues with blueknob have become so over blown on this board. I decided to have a little fun with it. Almost all the text in my TR is very very tongue in cheek. I thought laying it on thick would be understood to be sarcasm... I guess not. I think the photos speak for them selves. The skiing was certainly awesome.

For the record JohnL and I and Madeline all skied every pictured trail and then some... No serious edge or base damage. Go get some guys. BK is a diamond in the rough a real midatlantic gem go ski it if you can.
tromano
February 13, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Quote:

Thanks for the TR. Timely. Is that Shortway or 66 in the shot where we are looking over Madeline's shoulders? Coverage looks pretty good there. Hopefully BK and others are getting some big natural in the next 36 hrs.
Where was the first shot taken, off Edgeset?




The one over Madeline's shoulder is actually shortway right near the entrance I think.

The first two shots are from the bottom and top of one of the upper mountain glades (I honestly don't know all the names) off of jack rabbit. --Tim
yellowsnow
February 13, 2007
Member since 12/15/2005 🔗
267 posts
LOL. Ok, thanks! I'm a little slow on the uptake...
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
February 13, 2007
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,332 posts
I thought those photos were from Kuwait after the first Iraq war. The devastation! I am however amazed at how fast those trees grew back from the logging.
bktim
February 13, 2007
Member since 06/14/2006 🔗
32 posts
I'm glad you had a great time at Blue Knob. The conditions are good right now. We have a nice snow base 30-45" and it's currently snowing. We received about 3 inches of snow already today and we hope to get over a foot before the storm ends Wednesday afternoon.
Ski Good or Eat Wood,
BK Tim
RobertW
February 13, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
Quote:

Almost all the text in my TR is very very tongue in cheek.




Almost is the key word....The lodge IS a dump
Mountain Masher
February 13, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Great pictures! Just wondering....did you happen to take any pictures of the following: The Ditch Glade, the Cliff-Hanger Glade (an unofficial glade located just down the ridge from the Ditch Glade), The open area along the left side (facing downhill) of Jack Rabbit where the "Blue Trail" is located, The Bone Yard Glades, The Mine Shaft Glades, Lower Route 66 (after it had been open to skiing for awhile) or the lower 1/4 of Shortway, before it meets up with the Run-Out.
Mountain Masher
February 13, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Some of the higher elevations of South-Central PA could receive close to 2 feet of snow!
tromano
February 13, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
Quote:

Great pictures! Just wondering....did you happen to take any pictures of the following: The Ditch Glade, the Cliff-Hanger Glade (an unofficial glade located just down the ridge from the Ditch Glade), The open area along the left side (facing downhill) of Jack Rabbit where the "Blue Trail" is located, The Bone Yard Glades, The Mine Shaft Glades, Lower Route 66 (after it had been open to skiing for awhile) or the lower 1/4 of Shortway, before it meets up with the Run-Out.




MM,

My camera froze up after mid day so I didn't get a picture of the ditch glades. After skiing them they were ski able. The glades had been cleared / pruned but there was not as much natural in there and there were a few big rocks. Its a creek bed / drainage so I guess that is to be expected.

Boneyard and mineshaft were not open IIRC so we didn't test them.

We hiked out to the cliff hanger glades, but the upper opening was filled with knee high mountain laurel and didn't look too friendly so we doubled back. It looked like a down tree might have been covering the whole chute area when we checked it from below but it was really hard to see. I am planing to go back and explore in there this weekend with climbing skins, a weather proofed camera with fresh batteries, and hopefully get the goods.
appskiah
February 13, 2007
Member since 09/16/2006 🔗
88 posts
I'm leaning towards skiing BK tommorow. Thanks for the photos. I've never been to BK, so the terrain excites me a little more than Whitetail's mctrails. Should be an interesting drive.
Mountain Masher
February 13, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Wow! You-all really covered some ground! It was rather cold that day so I can see why your camera froze-up. Even, if your camera hadn't froze, it can be kind of difficult taking lots of pictures when it's cold and you're trying to get lots of runs in.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
February 13, 2007
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,093 posts
You should have seen the one before this one was built.
I remember staying there in the early seventies during an April Easter (stayed in the old AF barricks, really hot inside, freezing outside and a major blizzard.
I call BK the "icebox" of PA, and when one says "ice" at BK, they are talking about the clear variety identical to that in your freezer.
But what potential the area has.
The Colonel
Roger Z
February 13, 2007
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Sorry Tromano! I missed the toungue-in-cheek and feel bad about it. Ugh, it's such a terrible feeling to have a joke fly over one's head.
Mountain Masher
February 13, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
I doubt that there's anyone left who can remember this, but the original ski lodge at BK had GRAVEL on the floor (inside the building), for a couple of seasons (in the early 70s). The manager of BK at the time, Lee Yoder, CPSIA must have decided that having gravel on the floor would save money because no cleaning would be required. I think where Lee might have gotten the gravel idea, was a gravel filled hallway along the back (ski slope side of the lodge) where the ski lockers were located. Perhaps he figured if the locker area was a good place to have gravel on the floor, then why not spread gravel throughout the entire lodge. Although the original lodge wasn't much, the skiing was awesome during those early years. Stembogan had a LONG access trail (called Sleeper) that ran through the woods (where 2 snowmaking ponds, tubing park, and Little Valley road are today). Also, the original Stembogan ski slope had two additional turns that were eliminated when the Little Valley road was built (to allow for the building of homes at the chairlift mid-station). Anyway, I guess it's just nostalgia, but it always seems like the old days were better (despite gravel in the lodge).


I might add that I still have each Blue Knob brochure (starting with their first season) up until about 1995 (I was on the cover of 2 issues). Of course, my father collected all of the very early brochures. There wasn't too much snowmaking during those early years, but the coverage was often pretty good.
RobertW
February 13, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
Quote:

You should have seen the one before this one was built....The Colonel




Colonel and MM,
I do remember the original Air Force barracks and the gravel floors! In the early seventies, before Snowshoe or the North Face at 7SP was open on a regular basis, skiing BK was like a slice of Vermont 2 hours from home. I don't ever remember much snowmaking going on there then, they always seemed to have a lot of natural snow, but for some reason, they only seemed to have Bunny Hop (the original name of Jack Rabbit) and Mambo Alley open when I was there. I did ski Stembogen once but I never did see Extrovert open. It was always an icy, windblown mess, kinda like Lower Wildcat during that time.

I always thought that the dump-y lodge was a secret tradition And you're right about the wind.

Quote:

But what potential the area has.




That makes two great potential areas within an hour of each other. BK and Laurel. If only....
Mountain Masher
February 13, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
It's so cool that you remember the old days at BK! I think that most of the snowmaking was limited to Bunny Hop, Mambo Alley and the Beginners slope. Extrovert did have snowmaking (the air and water pipes ran above the ground along the left side of the slope (facing downhill)), but snow was rarely made on Extrovert. Sometimes my father would take me over to 7-S (when the North Face was open). In those days the North Face had just one poma lift and, no snowmaking (if my memory serves me correctly). I remember that the North Face was kind of an on-going joke in DC since it wasn't open much of the time. Little did we know what a success story the North Face would become.
RobertW
February 14, 2007
Member since 10/14/2004 🔗
199 posts
The thing I remember most about the early days of Blue Knob was how long the runs were....and how long and slow the ride up that double chair was! Since this was before the days of regular grooming, the flat run out at the end of Mambo Alley (which they now have renamed "Run Out") always had these "washboard undulations" which ran perpendicular to the fall line. These things were real thigh burners, especially at speed. My brother and I used to "race" down the uncrowded Mambo Alley and finish by bouncing through those undulations. I remember the above-ground air/water pipes on Extrovert. Didn't they use those tripod mounted ground guns in those days? My Dad, who worked in the steel mill and often had weekdays off, would take me out of school to ski here as it often had more and better snow conditions than HV/7SP/LM. I have a lot of good memories eating our bagged lunches in those old Air Force bunkers.

I also remember taking that long poma ride on North Face on a day we were lucky enough to be there during a big snow. It sat next to the Double Chair for several years before they took it out.

Would you scan one or two of your old BK brouchures and email to me? I'd love to have them. I have a scan of the old Bear Rocks brochure (Thanks to Dan Boggs) and I'd love to add them to my history collection which I will post some day. I also found an old BK jacket patch while doing some fall cleaning last year.

It is really cool to find people that remember these places back then.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
February 14, 2007
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,093 posts
I remember the North Face poma...I remember on one of my first visits there being lifted off the ground by the poma while going back up the hill. Sort of grabbed you, if you know what I mean!
The Colonel
Roy
February 14, 2007
Member since 01/11/2000 🔗
609 posts
Quote:

I might add that I still have each Blue Knob brochure (starting with their first season)




MM could you scan the brochure and post? It'd be interesting to see it.
Mountain Masher
February 14, 2007
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Yes, as soon as the weather clears (I'm snowed in right now), I'll head down to Bedford and have the brochure scanned. I have the brochure mounted between a couple of pieces of plexi-glass and hanging on my wall. That way, it can be taken down and viewed from both sides. I'll first try to see if it will scan it OK, without removing the brochure from the plexiglass. The original brochure is really interesting because it shows a map of all the Airforce buildings. It's also kind of funny because it touts BK's "vast" snowmaking system. Also, there's some wonderful art-work on one side of the brochure. The other BK brochure that I think DCSki members might find interesting, is a brochure from about 1972, when Lee Yoder was general manager. That brochure is filled with some of the best color pictures of BK that I've ever seen. There's even a picture of the late Ward Keyseker (I'm not quite sure of the proper spelling of his last name), Ward worked as a ski repair technician in the BK rental shop, and before that, worked in the old Hecht Co. ski shop (with Dutch M.) in Wash., DC. Ward was a real "piece of work" and sadly passed away about ten years ago.

While I'm thinking of the old days at BK I can't help but mention of some of the truly awesome skiers who were always blasting down the hill. I remember Ralph (Ruffy) Himes with his new Lange boots and red Head Killy 800 skis (or his Dynamic VR-17s, Rossi Strato 102s). Ralph basically owned the hill for many years. And, I can't forget Andy Himes (BK's current manager) who had his own style that always seemed to work the best in the bumps and on the steeps. Then, there was Harry Benjamin and wild Jeff Friday on his new Head 720s. I saw Jeff tuck Extrovert, High Hopes and Lower Route 66, all in the span of a couple of weeks. In fact, Jeff's season pass was suspended for 2 weeks because of his tucking. And, a few years after that came the GREAT "Stormin Norman" Helm...hands down, one of the BEST all around skiers I've ever seen. Anyway, BK has sure had it's share of characters over the years and, while I've skied the world over, I don't think that I've ever seen guys who could "take the hill apart" quite like the guys from BK!

And, when it came to Apres Ski at BK, who could forget Doug Hart's A-frame on Bunny Hop (now called Jack Rabbit), the A-frame that used to have a pink block foundation. The place had every bed (and then some) rented out each weekend. It was often THE place to hang-out after a day of skiing.
Craig
February 14, 2007
Member since 01/24/2007 🔗
22 posts
Nice pics! I remember going down Shortway (or was it lower High Hopes?) when the conditions looked like that -- my bases never forgave me.

BK is claiming 12" from last night's storm. I've never seen Bone Yard, Mine Shaft, or East Wall glades open -- maybe I will soon?
JohnL
February 14, 2007
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
Tim,

I think your new middle name is "Pull No Punches."

PM me your email address and I'll send you the three pix I took of you in Blue Point. Unfortunately, I should have zoomed in closer on the shoots.

I also had a pic of Tim ducking under a tree leaning against another tree, but I had my camera out of my pocket too long, and the camera went into shutdown mode just as I was snapping the shot. It would have been a good shot.
JohnL
February 14, 2007
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
Quote:

Great pictures! Just wondering....did you happen to take any pictures of the following: The Ditch Glade, the Cliff-Hanger Glade (an unofficial glade located just down the ridge from the Ditch Glade), The open area along the left side (facing downhill) of Jack Rabbit where the "Blue Trail" is located, The Bone Yard Glades, The Mine Shaft Glades, Lower Route 66 (after it had been open to skiing for awhile) or the lower 1/4 of Shortway, before it meets up with the Run-Out.




The picture of me sampling that tasty pork chop is on the Blue Trail. Through some digging worthy of Woodward and Bernstein, Tim and I located Blue Trail and Blue Point. A very, very, very nice skiable line through Blue Trail, but only so many skiers can go down it before it gets skied off...

I will say that the logging done in that area did cut down on the number of skiable lines at the top section of the Blues, and the bottom section is pretty much a skiing blight due to the very heavy logging with seemingly little debris cleared out. Still, there is some great skiing to be had in there. As an aside, all of this is OB of BK proper.

Shortway and Route 66 are excellent trails with pretty safe bases for your skis (despite what it looks like from the one pic of Madeline); the only problem with them is "skier traffic." Narrow, natural snow trails like them can only support so many skiers on them before they get scraped to the ground. The only solution would be to either widen the trails or make snow on the trails, which would both be bad ideas. You have to hit those trails early or be very tight with the lines that you ski. After that, ski the rest of the mountain.

My nicknames for Ditch Glades, Bone Yard Glades, and Mine Shaft Glades are Dumbell Glades, Bonehead Glades, and Mindless Glades respectively, since you run a risk of trashing your ski bases in them. (From personal experience a variety of times.) We did ski Bonehead Glades, and I was pleasantly surprised. (I took the risk since it looked like previous skiers had already uncovered the hidden treasures.) Coverage at the top was outstanding, with an excellent packed powder surface. Coverage got very sketchy (rocky) at the bottom, where you had to go into base survival mode. Just before that section, I performed a total yard sale, losing both skis and hitting the ground real hard. Turns out I had skied over a hidden stump; hit the back side of that sucker, one ski just stopped and I kept going. When you ski off piste you need to remember that hidden obstacles exist, and if you are unlucky to find one, there is not much you can do. At least I converted that stump from a hidden treasure to a visible treasure for the next person coming on down.

Coverage on Stembogan (Bowl and Trail) was excellent; the best I've ever seen it. Seems like whales are the hottest trend in the Mid-Atlantic; Stembogan and Extrovert had pods and pods of them. Fun stuff. It was too cold for the recently-opened Extrovert to have bumped up; I can't wait to bash some Spring bumps on it this coming March.

Excellent snow on Upper Shortway and Deer Run. Expressway got a bit skied off due to skier traffic. It normally skis a bit better than it did.

Plently of coverage in the blue glades to skier's right of Jack Rabbit. D-Trail, on the other hand, has been poorly maintained. In the recent past, it has been awesome. Unfortunately, this year it seemed like there was as much clipped-off brush stumps in there as there was snow. I emphasis stumps versus brush. This trail needs better maintenace and more snow.

Given the amount of heavy brush at the bottom, I seriously doubt East Wall Glades will open this year.

There is some excellent skiing at Blue Knob, but some of the terrain could use a bit more TLC.
Roy
February 15, 2007
Member since 01/11/2000 🔗
609 posts
MM don't take it out of the glass. If it's that old, I'd hate to see it ruined by taking out.
tromano
February 15, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
So yea I am definitely going to be up at BK on Saturday. If you see a guy on fristchi freeride pluses or a shorter girl on Head IM88s thats me and Madeline. Just say hi or ask for change for a nickel. That always works. --Tim
tromano
February 20, 2007
Member since 12/19/2002 🔗
998 posts
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VolklYokel
February 21, 2007
Member since 02/20/2005 🔗
14 posts
I spent four days skiing the knob last week, during and right after that last storm came through. Conditions improved dramatically. Since I am more active with the PA Ski & Ride group, I posted my TRs over there. Included in the TRs are links to photos.

I really enjoyed my time over there and always try to go every year. If you can ski Blue Knob well, you can ski anywhere! - Volklyokel
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