snowmaking at whitetail...
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itdoesntmatter
January 18, 2008
Member since 01/17/2007 🔗
125 posts
The website says they are not doing any snowmaking on Farside (difficult) or Bold Decision (most difficult). Hopefully with the cold weather expected for quite a while they will focus their attention on these other slopes now. It would be nice to have a little more expert terrain open.

Have they made snow on these slopes in the past or do they let mother nature take care of them?
Scott - DCSki Editor
January 18, 2008
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,132 posts
Mother Nature never takes care of them -- that region of PA typically doesn't get enough snow to naturally cover a slope. It's all about 100% snowmaking, and Whitetail's one of the best at snowmaking.

Whitetail usually works on Bold Decision, Far Side, Fallmount, Fanciful, and the in-ground halfpipe last, once the other slopes have been fortified. I think you'll see snowmaking start there towards the end of the weekend or very early next week.
bousquet19 - DCSki Supporter
January 18, 2008
Member since 02/23/2006 🔗
687 posts
I skied Whitetail for the first time three years ago, in early February. Farside was open with virtually all machine-made snow. It doesn't seem to get as much traffic as some of the other runs, and the skiing was sweet that day. Like you, I'm hoping for it to open soon.

Woody
Finsout
January 18, 2008
Member since 01/23/2001 🔗
104 posts
WT is at a HUGE disadvantage because it is south facing and gets alot of sun in the winter. I've only ever been there once when it wasn't a slushfest.
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therusty
January 21, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Well it was not a slushfest yesterday. It's funny how the Liberty skiers come to Whitetail on the really cold days in order to enjoy the warmth of the sun. The sun has virtually no impact on our snowmaking.

Whitetail averages 40 inches of natural snow over the whole season. Packed down using the average 10% moisture content, that means natural adds 4" to the base over the course of the whole season. Most of the natural snow we get works out to be top dressing. After a day or two, it's usually less than 5% of the base. Whitetail is currently reporting a 18-28 inch base. We usually won't open a trail unless it has a minimum 10 inch base. If all of our average natural snow fell at once on a bare trail, it would still not be deep enough to open.

Bold and Fallmount were opened today. Whitetail did start making snow on Fanciful yesterday (1/20). Last year Whitetail moved some 7 Springs style tower (air/water as opposed to fans) guns over to Far Side and the improvement in the snow quality was quite noticable. If you liked Far Side three years ago, you'll love it this year.

With at least 3 more days of round the clock snowmaking weather this week, Far Side and SnowDancer should be open by next weekend and the guns will be soon be blowing on Fanciful. With even more snowmaking weather forecasted for next week, it could be time to start dreaming about a half pipe in early Feb.
Roger Z
January 21, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
 Quote:
Whitetail averages 40 inches of natural snow over the whole season. Packed down using the average 10% moisture content, that means natural adds 4" to the base over the course of the whole season.


Does 10 inches of snow really pack down to 1 inch when groomed, assuming a 10% water content? It seems like you'd be packing it down to ice approaching the consistency of a glacier. I looked around on the web, but couldn't find anything that discusses how much snow packs down. I've always figured 10 inches of snow packs down to 1-4 inches, depending on water conten- 1 inch being the Alta stuff.
Michael
January 22, 2008
Member since 01/22/2008 🔗
1 posts
Was at Whitetail yesterday and am there virtually every weekend, since my kids are on the ski team.

Bold Decision and Exhibition are open under Experts Choice. Limelight and Angel Drop, also Home Run and Drop In off Whitetail Express.

Snowmaking is well underway on Far Side (Experts) and Snow Dancer (left of Whitetail Express). It may be a while for Fanciful, it's all brown, that's typically the last run they open.

Exhibition is still groomed, hopefully they'll leave the moguls to grow soon...skiing the same runways all the time is getting old!

They have good cover, but icing up in the afternoons.
snowglobe
January 22, 2008
Member since 03/12/2007 🔗
150 posts
I was also at Whitetail on both Sunday and Monday. Gotta give them prop for their snow making effort.

It was really sweet especially in the morning before the big crowd came. Even on holiday weekend like this, if you can get there at the openning time at 8.30 AM, you will be in a real treat for the first 2 hours -- really worth the effort to wake up early!

Bold decision and Exhition was really a lot of fun. Anyway, the trails turned into mini moguls by noon.
Finsout
January 23, 2008
Member since 01/23/2001 🔗
104 posts
 Originally Posted By: therusty
Well it was not a slushfest yesterday. It's funny how the Liberty skiers come to Whitetail on the really cold days in order to enjoy the warmth of the sun. The sun has virtually no impact on our snowmaking.

Whitetail averages 40 inches of natural snow over the whole season. Packed down using the average 10% moisture content, that means natural adds 4" to the base over the course of the whole season. Most of the natural snow we get works out to be top dressing. After a day or two, it's usually less than 5% of the base. Whitetail is currently reporting a 18-28 inch base. We usually won't open a trail unless it has a minimum 10 inch base. If all of our average natural snow fell at once on a bare trail, it would still not be deep enough to open.

Bold and Fallmount were opened today. Whitetail did start making snow on Fanciful yesterday (1/20). Last year Whitetail moved some 7 Springs style tower (air/water as opposed to fans) guns over to Far Side and the improvement in the snow quality was quite noticable. If you liked Far Side three years ago, you'll love it this year.

With at least 3 more days of round the clock snowmaking weather this week, Far Side and SnowDancer should be open by next weekend and the guns will be soon be blowing on Fanciful. With even more snowmaking weather forecasted for next week, it could be time to start dreaming about a half pipe in early Feb.


I didn't say that the sun hurt WTs snowmaking but it definitely hurts the quality of the snow during the day. When you compare a south facing MT to a north facing one the south clearly receives more direct sunlight during the winter which means that the snow tends to get slushier during the day (and icy at night).
snowglobe
January 23, 2008
Member since 03/12/2007 🔗
150 posts
 Originally Posted By: Finsout
WT is at a HUGE disadvantage because it is south facing and gets alot of sun in the winter. I've only ever been there once when it wasn't a slushfest.


Why would the south facing slope gets a lot of sun in the winter?
How would if be different from north facing slope? Shouldn't the difference be between the east facing and west facing slopes? Enlighten me please!
wgo
January 23, 2008
Member since 02/10/2004 🔗
1,335 posts
 Quote:
Why would the south facing slope gets a lot of sun in the winter? How would if be different from north facing slope? Shouldn't the difference be between the east facing and west facing slopes? Enlighten me please!


Think how the sun is lower in the horizon in the winter. This is due to the fact that in winter the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. Slopes that face north will be facing away from the sun, so the snow on these slopes is more sheltered.

The next time you are driving on a road that goes east-west, note how there will often be snow on only one side of the road. This is the north facing side.
kennedy
January 23, 2008
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
A halfpipe at Whitetail? in February? surely you jest sir.

Seriously though that would be awesome. I'd rather not have to go to Liberty for my pipe fix.
JohnL
January 23, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
wgo nailed the explanation. Most early (and current) ski areas are oriented with the primary slope exposure facing north. Of course not all the slopes will face exactly in the same direction, especially for the larger areas found in the Northeast and the West. Generally speaking, north-facing slopes will retain snow longer and have fresher snow since the thaw-freeze cycle is minimized due to lack of sun exposure. They are also colder. (Slopes subject to heavy traffic have additional issues.)

I agree with what finsout is saying about Whitetail's exposure. However, I personally like the Whitetail "slush." It is great practice for skiing in the softer, deeper, more variable snow you find out West. If one can't ski the Whitetail "slush", they should stop complaining and take a lesson...
therusty
January 24, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Roger,

Packed down snow (i.e. base) is close to ice in hardness. If you punch it, your hand is not going to sink in too far. That's why packed down snow is considered 100% moisture content. The 10 to 1 factor is commonly used in the industry as an average (10 inches of 10% moisture = 1 inch of 100% moisture). The fluffiest snow I've seen was 3% moisture content and it was like smoke (11 inches at Steamboat added nothing measurable to the base - according to their snow report). Alta often gets some 6% snow, but most of the storms I've been out there run closer to 10%. Some of the snow we get in the mid Atlantic can run over 15%, but 10% works as a good average for us too.

 Originally Posted By: Roger Z
 Quote:
Whitetail averages 40 inches of natural snow over the whole season. Packed down using the average 10% moisture content, that means natural adds 4" to the base over the course of the whole season.


Does 10 inches of snow really pack down to 1 inch when groomed, assuming a 10% water content? It seems like you'd be packing it down to ice approaching the consistency of a glacier. I looked around on the web, but couldn't find anything that discusses how much snow packs down. I've always figured 10 inches of snow packs down to 1-4 inches, depending on water conten- 1 inch being the Alta stuff.
therusty
January 24, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Fins,

The topic of the thread was "snowmaking". Who knew?

If you had come to Whitetail this week, you would have been able to enjoy the warmth of the sun and soft, but not slushy, snow. I was there on Wednesday. The snow qaulity was great all day, even under the guns. There wasn't an ounce of slush and the sun was out full force. It got warm enough to turn some of the guns off (the temp on the high speed sign read 37 but that was suspect because the guns were still blowing white instead of clear). There are benefits and drawbacks to all exposures. But by all means, if you really enjoy North facing slopes, then Liberty is even closer to DC. I've heard that Bbbbbbbbbbbbbblue Knob also faces North too.

 Originally Posted By: Finsout

I didn't say that the sun hurt WTs snowmaking but it definitely hurts the quality of the snow during the day. When you compare a south facing MT to a north facing one the south clearly receives more direct sunlight during the winter which means that the snow tends to get slushier during the day (and icy at night).
fishnski
January 24, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Its 8 degrees & snowing & about 80% humidity up at timberline,WV right now...what do you think the ratio is?...could it be..like.. powder?
therusty
January 24, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Ratio schmatio, it's probably schweet! Around here, the base matters little once the ground is fully covered. It's the top dressing that makes the difference.
fishnski
January 24, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Acually Rusty, While I was waiting for a response I Tried to research water to snow(altitude, temp & humidity influenced)) ratio.I couldn't find any solid answer..no charts..graphs...nothing. I did find out that the flakes that are falling at those temps(3 to 10 above) are Dendritic flakes..6 sided kind. 15 degrees & 0 to very little wind seems to be good for powder...colder temps & wind arn't so good because the flakes Are smaller & pack tighter.....I'll take some Packed Powder anytime though!
Roger Z
January 25, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Thanks Rusty. I was going to blast you and say "that's ridiculous," then I thought "yeah but I don't really know what I'm talking about," so I tried to do some research on the web about snow packing and was surprised to find... nothing. You can probably find oodles of pages on catepillar vomit on the web, but nothing on how much snow packs down to? Is that a dissertation topic waiting? Hmmmmm... ;\)

Anyway, this "asking questions when you don't know" thing is really a neat idea! I might try it more often, and avoid eating too much egg.
JohnL
January 26, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,514 posts
I don't think anyone can fault Whitetail concerning their snowmaking this week. I skied there today (Sat 1/26.) When I arrived around 9 AM, the snow guns were blowing on just about every single trail, with the exceptions (that I noticed) being parts of Bold Decision and Snow Dancer. (Maybe also the novice area.) It was a pretty impressive sight from the road; it looked like a mini-blizard hitting just Whitetail. When I left at 4, they were still blowing on Exhibition, Far Side and I believe Limelight. It was definitely a goggles day on most slopes.

Whitetail payed their bills today. Saw at least six tour buses in the parking lot, the food area was near capacity around 1 PM, lines were heavy on all lifts (though the Expert's Choice lift cleared out around 2 PM), and there were tons of people streaming in when I was on my way out.

Still got plenty of turns in despite the crowds; I spent nearly six hours on the slopes. Quads are talking to me.
fishnski
January 26, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Thats Great to hear!...Roundtop & Liberty (My growing up areas) will be 100% open soon...Lets keep our fingers XXXX & just say NO to AG..
Finsout
January 28, 2008
Member since 01/23/2001 🔗
104 posts
Rusty, no dis to WT. Of the Snowtime places, it's the most well run for sure. I live 10 miles from roundtop and i've hit all the ST mountains heavily in the last 20 years (did alot of WT in the pre-snowtime years). Rountop used to be good before Ron Hawkes took over but he's now reverted it back to a pure beginner mountain so maybe I'll give WT another try.
therusty
January 28, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Thanks guys!

Fin - it's funny about WT being well run. The resort has always been impressive to visit, but the original owners did go bankrupt. Before the sale, there signs of problems all over the mountain from lack of gear in the retail shop to lack of paint on the lift towers. When Snowtime bought the resort there was concern that the place would get penny pinched and milked to death. But Snowtime managed to catch up on all the deferred maintenance, made some very smart investments and managed to turn a steady profit. Some of the policy changes were tough to swallow, but it's hard to argue with results. It's also hard to believe that the smart Snowtime management of WT isn't working at the other two resorts. I don't get to ski at the other resorts very often so I can't argue against personal experience. I can say that appearances can sometimes be deceiving.

Roger and Fish -> I wish I could point you to my sources. I remember seeing 2 or 3 references on this topic fairly recently. Unfortunately, I read so much from so many places, it's hard for me to backtrack to find sources sometimes (I'm thinking a Washington Post article and maybe something in one of the ski magazines). For now I can only say that what I've read on the subject has been backed up by personal observation of snow reports. Your snow depth may vary.
Finsout
January 28, 2008
Member since 01/23/2001 🔗
104 posts
 Originally Posted By: therusty
Thanks guys!

Fin - it's funny about WT being well run. The resort has always been impressive to visit, but the original owners did go bankrupt. Before the sale, there signs of problems all over the mountain from lack of gear in the retail shop to lack of paint on the lift towers. When Snowtime bought the resort there was concern that the place would get penny pinched and milked to death. But Snowtime managed to catch up on all the deferred maintenance, made some very smart investments and managed to turn a steady profit. Some of the policy changes were tough to swallow, but it's hard to argue with results. It's also hard to believe that the smart Snowtime management of WT isn't working at the other two resorts. I don't get to ski at the other resorts very often so I can't argue against personal experience. I can say that appearances can sometimes be deceiving.

Roger and Fish -> I wish I could point you to my sources. I remember seeing 2 or 3 references on this topic fairly recently. Unfortunately, I read so much from so many places, it's hard for me to backtrack to find sources sometimes (I'm thinking a Washington Post article and maybe something in one of the ski magazines). For now I can only say that what I've read on the subject has been backed up by personal observation of snow reports. Your snow depth may vary.


Rusty your post makes me wonder if WTs gain wasn't at the expense of Roundtop.
Scott - DCSki Editor
January 28, 2008
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,132 posts
I had some initial concerns when Snow Time purchased Whitetail. Having covered all three resorts, it was clear as day that Whitetail and Liberty/Roundtop were extremely competitive with each other. Whitetail was the "new kid on the block," with a laser-like focus on offering a modern, customer-driven experience, and Liberty/Roundtop (correctly) saw themselves as direct competitors. Whitetail was invading their market and snatching away their customers. For the Mid-Atlantic skier, this competition was excellent. It drove all three resorts to make continuous improvements and, eventually, to develop their own identities.

I was afraid that would disappear with all three areas under single ownership; that the areas would all become roughly equal and lose their competitive fire. Much to Snow Time's credit, that's not the path they took. The strengths of each area were acknowledged and allowed to remain and improve. And, perhaps because there is so much competition in the broader Mid-Atlantic region, substantial capital improvements continue to be made at each area in a fiscally responsible way. Each area has its own strong management team, but they also collaborate on marketing, the Advantage Card program, etc. In the end, I'm thankful that Whitetail was purchased by a company that has many years of experience running ski areas profitably in the Mid-Atlantic.

Of the three areas, I think Roundtop tends to draw more nearby locals than Liberty or Whitetail, possibly limiting its audience. Most of my friends and colleagues in the Baltimore/Washington corridor visit Whitetail and Liberty, but Roundtop isn't as much on their radar. Ski Roundtop used to market more broadly (including on DCSki), but seems to have narrowed its focus a couple years ago. I think Roundtop is probably trying to determine its optimal identity as the Mid-Atlantic market evolves.
Roger Z
January 28, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
 Quote:
it was clear as day that Whitetail and Liberty/Roundtop were extremely competitive with each other.


Yes, I still fondly remember the "Ski Bigbuck!" radio commercials that Liberty used to put out. It was weird when they bought each other, thinking how much they had sniped (or at least Snotime had sniped at Whitetail). Plus, that's one less funny commercial to listen to. \:\)
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