Highlands vs. Western Territory
10 posts
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November 21, 2008
Member since 07/9/2008 🔗
43 posts
Wintergreen's Highlands vs. Snowshoe's Western Territory

Okay, I've been searching for this on the site and have not seen where it has been covered although I'm sure it has. I apologize if the subject is the proverbial dead horse but here goes anyway...

I don't want to start any arguements about which slopes are better but I'm interested in comparing the difficulty of the two.

I have two sons that ski the Highlands without any real problems. Having never skied Snowshoe was wondering what they can expect on the Western Territory. A friend of ours is making it sound like a Warren Miller movie. This excites my older son while concerning my younger son. Having seen some limited photos of the runs they don't look any more difficult than the Highlands.

Any thoughts/info would be greatly appreciated...


November 21, 2008
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Personally, it's nothing remotely challenging. With exception of Lower Shays, it's all a typical black in the Mid-A. The only nice thing is it's a fairly sustained pitch top to bottom.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
November 21, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,895 posts
WT is a step up from Highlands. More sustained steeps. Lower Shays, when bumped, is tougher than any single run at Wintergreen's Highlands Section. But if your boys handle Upper Cliffhanger when it's bumped-up, they'll get into Shays quickly. Highlands has more runs.
November 21, 2008
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,063 posts
I think a lot of the difficulty of the WT relates to the snow conditions. The length equals some in New England but if you have a strong NW wind Lower Shays and Cupp and be brutal. I never thought of a comparison between the Highlands and the WT because they both are so different. Interesting post.
November 21, 2008
Member since 07/9/2008 🔗
43 posts
Thanks for the info... Can't wait to check it out...
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter 
November 21, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,110 posts
In general, I would say that the Western Territory at the Shoe is usually in better shape snowwise than the Highlands...primary do to higher altitude and thus colder temps. There is no Highlands run that compares to the top to bottom experience of Cup Run, although some of the runs at the Highlands are comparable in stretches. There are more black trail choices at the Highlands. Contrary to other posters I do not think there is any comparison between Shays Revenge and any bumped up portion of the Highlands. Shays is often a Volkswagon sized mogul minefield at a pitch much steeper than any stretch at the Highlands. A couple of large observations:
The snowmaking on the Highland slopes is more state of the art than that at the Western Territory. Last year Shays Revenge did not really open. The trails at the Western Territory are generally much wider than those at the Highlands, thus spacing the skiers and riders better. I can not remember a long line at the bottom of the Western Territory, and have seen long lines at the Highlands chair. Both have high speed chairs.
But this year Snowshoe has added a mid station to the Western Territory lift which will allow more intermediate skiers to tackle both upper cup and upper shays. Might mean a bit more of a crowd on the lift.
While at the Shoe there are many other more challenging trails on both the basin side and at the Silver Creek area than at Wintergreen. Do not miss time spend at Silver Creek which is usually much less crowded than the rest of Snowshoe.
The Colonel smile
November 21, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
The big differences are:

1) 50% more vertical drop at Snowshoe Western Territory (1500 ft total). This has a big effect on many skiers who have never skied over 600-1000' vertical in one shot. If you're going to burn your thighs anywhere in the mid-A, it will probably be on Cupp run.

2) As mentioned, the pitch at Western Territory. Nothing at Wintergreen compares to the pitch on Cupp and Shays (especially lower Shays -- it's the only true black diamond pitch in the area in my opinion). There are only two steep parts in all of the Highlands, and they are very brief. Some sections of Cupp and Shays sustain the pitch for a long section (roughly the length of entire trails at Wintergreen).

3) The feel and general atmosphere. Except when they are littered with gapers, Cupp and Shays feel like real ski trails to me. I always get a "McSkiing" feel at Wintergreen.

I wouldn't call Western Territory Warren Miller material by a long shot, nor would I tell a kid it was a cakewalk. It's a typical set of mid-A black trails, but definitely some of the better ones in the area. I think it would be great to guide two solid-intermediate kids down those trails, all the better if they are excited and can get a confidence boost out of it. I took my boss' young son over there many years ago, and he really loved the challenge. Definitely try it when the crowds are low -- on a busy day, those trails are swarmed by poor skiers who clog up the runs and make it unsafe.
November 21, 2008
Member since 11/27/2004 🔗
532 posts
Good call on trying it during low crowds. Especially Cup seems to get a lot of people of there that really shouldn't be there. You can pick up a lot of speed and if you don't know what you are doing, you can really hurt someone. Can't help but think of the young boy who was killed there a few years back by an out of control skier. Stay safe.
November 22, 2008
Member since 01/18/2007 🔗
32 posts
re: the mid-station. I am pretty sure that the mid-station is only going to be used when the top half of cupp and shays are the only thing open (i.e. allow them to open the slopes earlier in season). Once the full top to bottom is open, the mid-station won't be used.

As for the slopes, never been to Highlands but the Western Territory was intimidating to me when I was novice/intermediate skier. Getting out there early at rope drop will however give you at least 2-4 very quiet runs before the masses show up. I highly recommend that. Thinking back, Cupp isn't too bad beside the long descent interrupted by that short relatively flat spot in the middle (where the mid-station will be). It can really burn your thighs. Also the top of the second half Cupp has a little bit of weird terrain which means the intermediate can't easily make larger arching turns across the fall low to control speed.

Lower Shay's on the other hand is damn tough when the huge moguls form.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter 
November 22, 2008
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,110 posts
Look at David's pictures in the discussion Forum, Snowshoe 8-22-08 thread. The two slopes shown in a drive-up picture are Cupp on the left (as viewed) and Shay's Revenge on the right.
The Colonel smile
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