Now, here is a mountain that does not seem to get alot of talk around here on DCSki! In fact, I didn't even see a "firsthand report" type article on here either (and if Scott wants to, he has my permission to use this as such as article, including the pictures). Also, the ski patrol at Sno Mountain were awesome! I was very impressed and grateful for the incredible amount of hospitality they showed to this visiting patroller, including inviting me to a cook-out lunch at the top of the mountain. If any of you are reading this, a truly heart-felt thanks goes out to you, plus the food was awesome. Now that is out of the way....
Sno Mountain, which was formerly Montage turn out to be an excellent hill, with some pretty impressive terrain on some of those runs. This mountain seems to have it all, some nice long green cruisers for the beginners, plenty of blue runs for the intermediates, and a few runs that will maked even some of the most ardent experts' hearts skip a beat! Montage was bought out by an a private investment firm sometime a year or so ago and was renamed Sno Mountain. It seems the new owners are really starting to sink some money into the place. One of the things I noticed where some brand-new Pole Cat snowguns along many of the runs. They were touting some 193 new snow guns on the mountain. I've also have been told that they are planning on adding a new lift, as well as cut some new runs. There is also plans to build a brand-new water park, where the current snow tubing run is, and the snow tubing will be moved to another part of the mountain. There is also talk of a pretty substancial expansion of the lodge as well (seems the need it! The friggan snowboard rental facility is currently housed in a tent, for example!) Looks like this place is going to be quite a mountain if these plans come to fruition.
Sno Mountain has about 1,000 feet of vertical and they are making full use of it. For example Upper Fastrack is a nice long blue cruiser that goes down into Lower Fastrack, which is a black diamond. Many of the runs on the upper part of the mountain were pretty wide open, with excellent coverage.
The weather was cold, and it was getting pretty blustery, especially up on the upper part of the mountain. It was also snowing off and on all day, which was definitly helping the conditions. The lower part of the mountian (the "north face" seems to be they were calling it), was much better in getting out of the wind as it was down in a hollow and pretty well shielded.
Crowdwise, there was definitly a crowd there, but not anything near the rediculous crowds that were at Elk yesterday, especially if staying down on the expert terrain on the lower part of the mountain. Even then, I did not have to wait more than a few minutes for a chair on the lifts. One downside is some of those lifts are friggan slow. I rode one lift they call "Long Haul" that take you up from the very bottom to the top. There ought to be drink service and movie on that one, as it seems to take foooreeeever to get up the mountain. However, once you get up top, you are treated to a pretty impressive view. Even at night it is really cool, to see the lights of Scranton laid out in the valley below you.
The skiing back down is just friggan awesome! They got some runs that are pretty darn steep, such as Cannonball, Smoke and Boomer, which are all groomed. Skiing Smoke was quite interesting at night as well. That one headwall drops into darkness, making it very difficult to see anything. It was like dropping into an abyss! And then you got White Lightning. Those are some of the steepest moguls that I've every experienced in any of the mid-atlantic areas. That run was just plain sick!
Yes, I was actually standing about a 1/3 of the way down when I took those pictures. If there is a run that will seperate the men from the boys, the gapers from the skiiers, there it is! The first time I went down it, I was friggan scared $#!+less! It did make my heart skip a few beats when I first approached that! I am like, "Oh! My! God!". In the end, I did ski that a good half a dozen times or so through out the day. I can certainly ski them, but it sure was not pretty. I've must've done better than I thought, however because a couple of the patrollers actually told me that I looked pretty good going through there.
I also tried the NASTAR course as well, which was setup along side Switch, a nice wide blue cruiser that runs under the Iron Horse lift. Unfotunatly, I did not manage to medal, though, but it was fun while it lasted. It seems the handicap really kills it for me (although I could never seem to figure out the NASTAR handicapping system) It was $5 for two runs, and seems to add an interesting new dimension to the skiing experience.
I don't know how the food at the lodge is, since for lunch, I was invited by the patrol to a cookout they were having at the top of the mountain, and for dinner, I went off mountain, into town to eat (I thought I saw a sign for Ruby Tuesdays, but I could not find it, so ended up just going to Long John Silvers), as there are plenty of places to go if you don't mine the hassle of de-booting and going to the car to make the short drive back down the mountain. However, from what I was told, the food in the lodge is supposedly pretty good, although a bit on the pricey side (The two-piece fish basket at LJS was only $4 and change, including fries, hushpuppies and drink with free refills, compared to somthing like $10 just to get a burger, fries and a non-refillable drink).
Overall, I was very impressed with Sno Mountain, and really had a wonderful time there. This is definitly a place that people need to check out. They got some excellent terrain that will cater to everyone from the rank beginner/never-ever, to some very experienced skiers. This place will be even better if and when those planned improvments are made. For example, the planned new runs are supposed to be even additional expert terrain along the lines of the current Boomer, Smoke, and Cannonball. That will be sweet for us experts that loves that type of thing. Anyway, definitly check this place out if you ever have a chance. I hope to return again next year or two.