Well, I finished up my little trek up to Northeastern PA by spending a day skiing at Blue Mountain on the way home. I've been to Blue Mountain before a couple of years ago, and I've always really liked this place. It is not exactly easy to get to from the turnpike (taking all these little, windy backroads, and there are no signs to direct you the right way), but it is actually a beautiful drive through the PA countryside to get there.
Blue Mountain also makes good use of its claimed 1082 feet of vertical, and has some intersting terrain to go with it. There are the usual straight-down type runs, but they are friggan steep, as well as plenty of cool runs with doglegs and switchbacks. They are in the process of adding another run, which is supposed to be a blue run. You can see it from the high-speed quad, as it goes right over it. Seems a few folks decided to give it a try despite the fact it is still under construction - there were alot of tracks going down it!
Also, that new Six-Pack they just put in is really nice! It really helps with relieve some of the lift lines that I remember backing up on that high-speed quad. And speaking of crowds, there was definitly a crowd there, but still managable. Still made for some interesting skiing through some of those runs that tended to get crowded up. Had to many near misses to be comfortable (A couple instances where I had to bail off and ski up into the woods to avoid a collision). I've heard the place was friggan mobbed yesterday (had a record crowd there, from what I was told). Glad I was at Sno Mountain, where it was much less crowded.
The conditions were, for the most part, really good. The day itself, weatherwise, was a bit chilly in the morning, but got pretty nice as the day wore on. It was clouding up somewhat, causing some flat-light conditions later in the afternoon, but overall, a beautiful day of skiing.
I say the coditions were good, for the most part
, for the simple fact that when I tried to ski Challenge, that thing was friggan glare ice on the upper part. Seems that when somewhat inexeprienced skiers or boarders get on there, they side-slip it down, thus scraping to to bare ice. This was the same case on Razer's Edge, althought if I stuck to the extreme right edge, I was able to find some good snow to get an edge to bite into. As for Challange, I tried to make a turn down that thing and damn near ended up on my ass when my skis lost its edge on that ice. I pretty much decided to f' it and go into Bode Miller mode and just aim the things down the hill and ride it out until I got down to where the better snow was to get an edge into and actually carve a turn (intead of sliding sideways in an attempt to make a turn on that thing!). However, once you got past the ice, there was some sweet snow on those lower parts. I friggan loved it just blasting down Razer's Edge, just riding them edges and making nice big GS type turns. It was actually like flying, but still on the ground! Razer's Edge is also brand new since the last time I've been there (it was still under construction at the time), so it was awesome to finally get to ski it. Also, there was some sweet snow on several of the blue runs, such as Lazy Mile.
It was a beautiful carving some turns in that nice packed powder that was on the trail. It made for an excellent carving surface.
One thing I noticed about Blue Mountain is that if you are a freestyler, whether you ride on ski or board, they got a very nice variety of terrain park features and obsticals for you to play on, including a half-pipe!
I never was much into terrain parks, but it is fun to go down one every now and again and take a couple of the smaller hits and see what I can do. Also, it is often alot of fun to go down just to watch the kids do thier thing off the obsticles as well.
However, there is one "terrain park" that I always have to try - the good old-fashioned mogul field.
Blue Mountain has a set of moguls along the side of Main Street they call "Barney's Bumps" (what a name!). However, they ought to call them the "Pain in the Ass Bumps", because they were a real mother to get through! First some of them were friggan icy, especially on the back side. And the ones that were not icy, where so cut up that it seems there was the Grand Canyon behind them. I started in at the top and about three turns in, my skis washed out on the back side of one and I ended up on my rear end. I get back up, make another turn and the same thing happened again!. I think I let out a couple of not-so-family-friendly words at that moment.
I finally got back up and was able to link a few turns, only to get my skis hung up in one of those cravasses. I could not ski back up out of it to setup the next turn! I basically had to ski out around it and try again on the next bump over. These things were almost impossible to setup a rythm, especially since I am not exactly the most graceful bump skiier to begin with.
The food there at Blue Mountain was alright, but nothing really special. It was a bit pricey, though. I had a turkey sub, a basket of fries and a medium drink, and it came out to $10 and change! However, it was a decent size proportions (the sub was a good 8 inches, the basket of fries was pretty big and the drink was a typical 20oz cup). Not bad, and did fill me up. The fries were actually quite good, though.
Unfortunatly, I had to bail at around 5 PM or so and head back home to Fredericksburg, VA (takes me a good 5 hours to get home from Blue Mountain). The traffice was actually not to bad coming home, despite a few morans that think the Beltway is the Daytona 500. Oh well, only a matter of time before they either wreck or get busted by the cops. Just don't want those assholes wrecking into me, but hey, I am more than happy to let them run interferance for the cops.
Anyway, overall, it was a fun day of skiing at Blue Mountain, and I've always enjoyed this place, especially if they keep adding new expansions (and from what I was also told, they got alot of terrain downrange from the lodge that they could still add to (down beyond where Paradise, a green cruiser, currently is). They still have that old double that was replaced by the new six-pack in storage, which they could very well put back into service to access new terrain in the future. Would be sweet. This is definitly another mountain that is worth checking out as well, and is one of my favorite places in the Poconos (although Sno Mountain has definitly become on of my favorite places as well).
And thus ends my adventure up to Northeastern PA, but at the same time, it sure is nice to be back home! Gotta alot of skiing in for a mere three days. To be honost, I consider skiing an area with night skiing from open to close to be two days of skiing, so for all intents and purposes, I managed to actually get 5 days of skiing in three actual days (skied Elk from open to close, skied Sno from open to close, and only skied Blue until 5 PM).