This is my first trip report of the season although I have already been to Wisp once earlier in the month. I figured I'd give a brief overview of what it was like up at Whitetail.
In fact this is only my second time ever going to Whitetail and first in nearly three years. So it was a lot of a learning experience all over again for getting used to the resort and all. The first time I had ever went, I went with a beginner boarder friend who only wanted to stick to the slopes of Northern Lights and Snow park. In fact at the time it was an icy day and the slopes looked much more intimidating than I had done before, especially with those blues looking like Timberline grade double blacks from a distance.
Sunday was different. I first met up with my friend Nathan back from an R&R leave in the Marines. We met up in Wardensville and actually rode to pick up our other friend from high school just outside of Whitetail. There we met three other guys, all younger than me and in their early 20s. Interesting enough, one guy named Will is a former park instructor at Vail.
When we goto Whitetail at 5, it was drizzling with the drizzle turning into more of a steady rain. Several of us were wanting to just call it quits considering how sloppy things get when it's raining and how miserable it can get. One guy said he heard it was supposed to start snowing at 7, so being the snow addicts we are, we decided to chance it.
By the time we had gotten our lift tickets, people were piling out in droves and it had started a light mix of sleet with the rain. The first run of the evening was on Snow Park which still had light crowds on it, but nothing like a bowling pin alley that Wisp can be. The first run is always a warm up and feeling like I'm learning to ride all over again. When riding the lift up even through the rain, the surface conditions looked like soft powder from up on the chair, but when getting off onto the slope it was kind of a mix wet soft granular that with the dropping temps felt like a harder snow.
After a run down Snow Park, we went over on the high speed detachable quad which honestly was my first time having ever ridden that. NOW I see why everyone wants Timberline to have one. As soon as I sat down on that thing and left the station, it felt like I was riding on the roof of a car, it was going that fast. However the absolute best was how fast it was coming into the top station. It literally seemed like I was going to jump off the side of this car, but then at the absolute last second, it comes to a grinding slow down to where I can stand up, slide off, and go. I couldn't get enough of just riding that lift all night long.
When we were at the top of the mountain, the only trail open with good coverage was Homerun. Another 'invention' that I wish other resorts would now have, is the big park bench at the top for boarders to sit and latch in. Amazing how the small things in life make it much more enjoyable. When me and Nathan, who were the two most inexperienced boarders compared to our friends who had many more years under their belts, went to the edge, it was total fog down the mountain. I'm thinking "Crap, not another day like Wisp..." I did take it down the mountain cautiously however I was very impressed with the snow conditions. For rainy and wet the moguls popping up had a soft but nice and firm feel to them with no icy spots anywhere to be found. The steepness was actually a good feel for once which surprised myself. Once I got down to the fork with Angel Drop, I kept going on down Home Run.
Me and Nathan did this alternating every few runs back and forth with Snow Park until we noticed that the rain had turned to pure sleet. I never knew sleet pellets hitting your face going 30mph felt like being shot with a shot gun. However the colder temps were blowing in, the fog had lifted and by 7 it was turning into one heck of an evening. With a brief rest and heading back up the high speed lift when we got to the top, Nathan mentioned that it had started snowing. Indeed it was and coming down very hard. From this point out it snowed nonstop through 10pm when we left.
The more it snowed, the more pumped I got and it showed in my riding. For the first time EVER with non-exsistant crowds, wide slopes, and excellent conditions, I finally whipped my riding style out into full gear. I managed to start hitting very wide Super-G type turns all the way down Home Run (and on Snow Park too), picking my line with the developing moguls and carving in and out of them. At one point me and Nathan were the only ones on Home Run for the entire length of the trail and both of us were criss crossing each other letting it go wide open. Although due to lack of conditioning, I admit, I had to stop every 400 yards or so to let my legs catch up.
With the snow now accumulating to about 2" on the ground, conditions went from wet loose granular, to downright packed powder. While not epic, it made for epic like riding conditions. On the very last run of the day me and Nathan were coming down to the bottom of home run letting it rip wide open in what felt like a good 40mph burst. As we were taking off our boards, I looked up and saw our tracks in the new fallen snow and it was just picture perfect. I could see how the edges of our boards left this fine slice in the snow through each wide turn.
For once, I finally got the opportunity to really push my limits and try something I had been wanting to try. It felt amazing to finish the day out knowing I stepped up my game several notches and am looking forward to the next chance to go steeper and learn more.
Kudos to your friend who had been watching the weather & to all of you for your Spirit!..Sometimes on a slow fishing day I just tell myself...15..15 more minutes...then BAM..Fish on!
Sounds like a blast! Its a great feeling when you look back up the mountain and think that was easier then I expected.
Wonderful report Brad.
It was fun to read a report from a regular skier/boarder vs an acknowledged author. I especially liked your description of your first high speed detachable chair ride. I could feel your anxiety as you approached the top like a rocket.
Again, thanks for the report.
And Happy New Year!
I'm glad you enjoyed the report. I figured that was the first real standout trip of the season so I wanted to cover it.
The high speed detachable was almost as fun to ride as the slope was. At one point I kept going on the blue even though my legs were wearing down just so I could ride the high speed lift. The first time coming to the top I knew it probably had to slow down, but as we were on that last little decline and the chair still hadn't slowed, the only thing I could think in the back of my mind was "oh boy, I'm coming in hot and gotta be prepared to tuck and roll..." But at the very last second it comes to a grinding halt to the point I could get up and walk off. Now that was fun.