TR - Ski Liberty - 12/21 (no pics)
December 23, 2008
Made it to Liberty for the first time on Sunday the 21st. We mainly wanted to pick up our Advantage Cards, and burn off the free lift ticket we got at the DC Ski/Snowboard/Travel/Everything Expo since it would expire tomorrow. The plan was to show up, get our cards, and ski for "until it got busy".
We showed up around 8, were on the hill by 8:30. The place was EMPTY. We skied Dipsy Doodle to warm up and get a sense of how things were laid out. After encountering the second half of DD, which is basically a perfectly flat stretch, we decided we'd avoid that bit as well as we could. On the second time around we figured we'd try the other way down to the front side, and without consulting the trail map, hit Blue Streak. It was fun and soft, and seemed a little steep for a mid-atlantic blue run (BLUE streak). It wasn't until the second time down that we noticed it was a black, which is when we remembered the importance of the "trail ratings are only relative to others at that resort" clause.
After that we spent the rest of the day skiing the back side. Everything that was open was in pretty good shape all morning, but we couldn't figure out where the heck all the people were! We maybe waited for a chair twice between 9 and noon. Then, all of a sudden, we were overrun with people. The Liberty Ski Team seemed to be everywhere, there were green ski school jackets (Snowboard division, maybe?) and orange-ish ones (skiing division?). And, out of nowhere, packs of snowboarders, doing the "typical" teenage snowboarder stuff - sitting on the hill, sitting at the entrance to trails, etc.
Then, almost as quickly as they had come, the crowds were gone. At around 1 o'clock, we were back to skiing on at the chair. Weird.
We left a little after 2, and it still wasn't really all that busy, but we had things to take care of.
Overall, it was a great day. The snow went from nice soft freshly groomed manmade to slightly iced over east coast hardpack to sun-warmed soft-pack, and was headed back to east coast hardpack in places when we left (as it was getting colder/windier).
I really liked the layout of the place. The trail map doesn't really do justice to the runs, and makes them look more like the boulevard, straight-down-the-fall-line sort that seems to be more prevalent at Whitetail. Liberty's intermediate terrain is more interested than what I remember seeing/skiing at Whitetail when we went there last year (but it wasn't even half-open at the time, so we'll have to give it another go).
We picked up our Advantage Cards (with the Night Skiing option), and since Liberty is about 1:15 from my place, I have a feeling it will be our go-to for weeknight skiing. I don't know if it's just the early date (pre-Christmas, and all) or if Sunday mornings are slow, but I was really surprised by how empty the hill was. The crowds were low enough that we maybe spent a total of 10 minutes in line all day. Should I be prepared for more crowds on a regular basis, especially weeknight skiing?
I don't know how keen I'll be on the place if it's a zoo, but as a virtually crowd-free skiing experience, I liked it plenty good, and it was a great early-season day to get us ready for our trip to Vermont next week!
Good going. Saturday was busier, but tolerable. They have just enough open to provide some nice variety. Where are you going in VT?
We (my girlfriend and I) are skiing Sugarbush, Smugglers Notch, and Burke. We're staying with a friend in Burlington and hitting SB and Smuggs on the 1st and 2nd (order TBD somehow) and Saturday the 3rd at Burke. We got a motel room at the Lyndon Motor Lodge, 8 miles from Burke, for $45 for the night for all three of us, cuz that's how we roll.
Lucky for us, Northern VT has gotten SLAMMED with snow over the past week, and it looks like Burke may be close to 100% when we're there. When I originally called about the motel room, the lady (probably the owner, based on what I've heard) of the motel said "you're coming all the way from Virginia to ski at Burke?" I said, no, we'll be in the area, and we were looking for something a little less busy for that Saturday, and she said "well, you should wait a while to reserve a room... we may not have enough snow, and I'd hate for you to waste a trip to Vermont". We waited a month, and then booked it. She laughed (must have remembered the conversation... I got the impression they don't have many callers from Virginia...), and she said "OK... but you can still cancel up to three days out!"
I don't think we'll be disappointed. Besides, Burke looks like our kind of place - big and empty, and off of most people's radar. I'm sure we'll "make do" at Sugarbush and Smuggs, too. :-)
The Vermont trip sounds like it will be a great time with plenty of snow.
As to your original question about how crowded Liberty gets on the weeknights, you don't have to worry about crowds. Two seasons ago I had the Mountain Passport Program and went on weeknights and would get a lesson each time I went. I rarely ever waited in a lift line, and my "group" lesson always ended up being a private lesson due to the lack of students.
This season I got a night club card w/ lessons through Willi's Ski Shop and plan on doing pretty much the same thing as I did with the Passport card.
The only night that it might get crowded is Wednesday since that is the night for Snowtime's college night.