Bluebird day at Blue Knob this Friday with 4" new snow the night before. Teens to a high of 25, high winds.
Roads were snowed over heading up and mostly cleared by night.
In general, conditions were decent -- in some places excellent. Blue Knob consistently has a great powder surface with boiler-plate ice underneath that makes you feel like you're skiing on a washing board where the powder has been scraped/blown off.
For those of you heading there this weekend, here's what you can expect:
Upper mountain blues: decent packed powder, some hard pack. Deer Run was especially good, but no moguls this time around. Triple & Forever Glades just had a couple lines down them by the time I got there, so I enjoyed some soft, light powder through there. Laurel Run Glades were technically closed, but passable with a bit more exposed sticks, etc.
Stembogan headwall was icy as usual, skier's far-left was more powder. Stembogan Trail was fast packed snow, some ice emptying out into plenty of powder in the "field" before the lift.
Ditch Glades were awesome. Great powder for the bottom 80% gave lots of control to negotiate that tight valley.
Extrovert was bumped up with moguls/whales and was a wall of ice, as usual, except when it softens up in the spring.
Edgeset was technically closed but had literally feet of powder on it. Too much for my Allstars. D-Trail was ultra-thin cover.
Route 66 was technically closed and alternated icy & powder, not particularly fun as the icy patches made it hard to check speed on the narrow trail.
High Hopes was great. Soft 0.5-1' powder skier's left and good packed powder right along the entire length.
Shortway was technically closed, but was the hidden gem of the day. A good foot of powder for the top 60% and bottom 20%. Total blast to ski. About 2/3 down I found out why it was closed -- almost no cover for about ~100ft, so only try it if you hate your bases or a short walk sounds good.
Finally -- what does Blue Knob think they're doing with East Wall, Bone Yard, and Mine Shaft Glades? With all the snow built up, those could have been epic, but all were closed (for good reason) and all had tons of underbrush / small trees growing over them. Why don't they get a trail crew to trim it before the season? Have they totally given up on the glades?
Things were icing up fast in the evening, hopefully there'll be something left for you weekend folks.
Good update Craig.
About those steeper glades... when I spoke to some BK contacts last weekend they actually used the word "nightmare" to describe the maintenance needed to prepare all the mountain's glades for use during the ski season. I think they claim something like 30 total acres of glades over not exactly easily accessible terrain. Apparently, veritable forests of 15 foot tall scrub grow over much of this acreage each summer. Perhaps because not enough canopy was left in some areas when they were originally thinned? (Although personally I appreciate the more open glades. I remember the dense 70s version of Ditch Glade and it was much less skiable.) I kind of doubt they have a bunch of off season staff to employ on glade maintenance. Only speculation on my part, but maybe they have decided to focus clearing efforts on the more user friendly glades and put less priority on the likes of boneyard, mineshaft, east wall, and d-rail. Sounds like some glade loving fans of BK need to orgainize a volunteer Fall clearing party to help BK out??
I guess they're thinking that the cost of hiring a landscaping crew or buying equipment to clear out the underbrush is more than whatever gain they'll see from increased skier traffic. I don't quite buy that though because everyone here seems to come to Blue Knob precisely for the expert terrain you can't find anywhere else in the region.
I scoped out all three of the closed "major" glades as much as I could above from Shortway and Edgeset and below from Runout. Almost considered trying out Bone Yard, but thought better of it and my bases thank me, I'm sure!
They need something like this:http://www.gt-13.com/
Looks perfect for the job...
I was at the Knob Presidents weekend and skied Bone Yard glades. The cover was actually great (no exposed ground or rocks) but there was too much underbrush to actually ski it. I found myself making jump turns onto the brush because any sliding motion would catch my skis. I did see a path of cleared brush maybe 5 ft wide towards the bottom, but I couldn't trace where it started. I have only skied the knob 4 times and I'm still looking around for the unmarked glades. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is there a policy on skiing unmarked trails at BK?
I thought I saw some evidence of ski tracks when I was scouting Bone Yard! East Wall totally looked skiable too, except for the brush.
The few Blue Knob employees / patrollers I've spoken to briefly seem pretty laid back about skiing "closed" trails or choosing your own line through the woods. I remember skiing Extrovert last year when a patroller started to rope it off towards dusk. I asked if I could keep on going, and he said "sure, have fun". Likewise a lifty indicated it was cool to ski Shortway if I thought it looked passable.
I just look at it that if patrol closes a slope, they've indicated to skiers that they don't think it's safe, and remove themselves from liability or having to attempt a rescue if you get yourself in trouble. That's the way it should be.
As for unmarked glades, apparently there is one near Ditch Glades, and another to the left of Jack Rabbit, but I haven't seen either. Discussion in here:http://www.dcski.com/ubbthreads22/showfl...e=0&fpart=1
I went to Blue Knob on Saturday 12/24. Sunny skies, low wind and a promise of some left over nachos were the theme of the day. I went with my daughter who started the day on her board and later switched to skis. Her boy friend rented skis. While he was renting I went solo for a warm up on Expressway, groomed smooth and fast. On the way down I stopped a few times and spied Triple and Forever Glades from below. My next run found me at the top of Triple scoping the scuffed out entrance and what looked like old pow. I scraped in and headed to the edges but to my chagrin I find heavy cream and in places a crusty frosting. Later Forever Glades provided some lighter fare with some cut up nachos on the side. I took one quick run down Stembogan, jumping in over the first whale and scarve the ice bumps down to the groomed then proceed to cut the corners, mach snell.
I meet up with daughter and beau and hit the easy groomers Mambo and Bunny Hop... er, Jack Rabbit for their warm up and then to Dear Run whose steeper ice face conspired with my daughter's untightened board boots to produce a long side slip off the face. Being enlightened thus, she batten down the latches and produced some nice but slow heel toe. After a few more cruises it was off with the single plank and swapped to the twins. I now felt secure to lure them to their doom.
First a couple of runs on Stembogan and on the second, both of them jumped into the bowl at the steepest point. On the third pass I slid into Extrovert to skier's far right where the bumps looked tamer (formed by skis, not snow guns). I peered down the face and was blinded by the glare off the troughs so I continued to Edgeset. Right move, the Set was sweet, soft bumps and fluff on the sides. D-Line was brown down the middle and pungie strewn so we continued to the Stem to the top of the Ditch. I traversed out to the right were the bumps were smaller and fluffy and we funneled down the natural pipe stopping on occasion to regain composure and set up more turns around the trees, saplings and occasional rocks.
Lower 66 looked sweet but we weren't up for a stage show so over to Deer to the top of Shortway. Ever deceptive, the Way was soft bumps and whipped cream on the sides but as any seasoned Knober knows; when the Way gets steep, options are short. So we hugged the left side and hopped the pungies, dirt and rocks until the pitch mellowed and bumps and more width opened our choices.
We finished the day on black cruisers High Hopes and Sun softened Deer Run.
For the record, Lower Ex was marked closed. East, Mine, and Bone were not roped and they went untested by our trio. Perhaps if JohnL, jimmy and tromano were there, I'd have gleefully followed them to my doom.
If a spring bumpathon is scheduled, I'll do my best to be there.
Nice narrative form LHC! Some of those terms of yours, nachos/frosting/cream/light fare ...had me salivating in more ways than one. I might be on for a BK return sometime around March tenth, but not sure yet. Will stay in touch. Where do you do most of your skiing?
I'm glad you enjoyed the TR. When Blue Knob has natural cover there's a whole lot of fun and I rarely ski the ice on Extrovert. I guess I'm getting old and jaded. I really liked meeting the bunch at 7S over President's Day weekend. An enthusiastic group really supercharges the day and the ordinary can be sublime. I recommend that everybody here at DCSki try to get together and push each other into mouth watering fun. In my experience even more laid back skiers will enjoy the camaraderie.
Perhaps we should start to think about an annual Mid-Atlantic Summit? Maybe the Snowy Luau at T-line is a place to start.