Mid-atlantic backcountry touring
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5 users
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wgo
June 9, 2004
Member since 02/10/2004
1,261 posts
One thing that I always thought was sorta neat was the idea of ski touring (or ski randonee). I know that there are hut to hut trips you can do out west or in the alps, and I remember reading in Skiing magazine about a trip some guys did linking 5 resorts in northen VT. It got me to thinking, would anything similar be possible somewhere in the mid-atlantic? I guess the Canaan valley would be a good place to start. You could hit timberline, CV, whitegrass, tour thru Blackwater falls. Maybe find a route to Mt.Porte Crayon and bag some first descents?

Not that I've ever done any backcountry or even have the proper gear, of course.
KevR
June 9, 2004
Member since 01/27/2004
786 posts
It's a great fantasy at the very least! Is Blackwater falls near New Germany, doesn't it have to x-c/backcountry ski areas?
comprex
June 9, 2004
Member since 04/11/2003
1,326 posts
There's no reason for it to be a fantasy- your biggest problem is snow coverage.

Get your winter camping gear together and some topo maps. Figure 30min/1000ft of climbing, and 20miles per day. You probably won't want to be too near established hiking trails- they tend to be -rocky, -narrow, -ice crusted and potholed. Bring a helmet- branches hurt!

KevR, take another look at the map of New Germany and surrounding area, with particular focus on Big Savage SP.

WGO, no real risk of a slide, so all you need is food, warmies, water (or way to make some), and boots you can walk in.

As a randonee-lite, try walking up and snowblading down. Fire roads are great for this.

Don't get lost!
wgo
June 10, 2004
Member since 02/10/2004
1,261 posts
KevR,

Blackwater Falls does have XC trails that connect to Cannan Valley State Park (info courtesy of "Ski and Snowboard mid atlantic").

Comprex,

As you say snow coverage would be the potential issue. I guess planning a trip for mid-february and hoping for the best would be the way to go.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 10, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Call Whitegrass and ask Chip for a suggested route. He'll know the best time to go and the best itinerary. He's the oracle of backcountry skiing in West Virginia. He's done everything that can be done in this state.

http://www.whitegrass.com/
comprex
June 10, 2004
Member since 04/11/2003
1,326 posts
Johnfmh is spot on, but stops short of pointing out that Chip's also your best source and reference for gear, and that his back yard is the perfect place to train. So, I'll do it. I'll also point out PATC's ski touring section, , for the sake of completeness.

Warning: you run serious risk of being converted to free-heel! [Big Grin]
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
June 11, 2004
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Next time you're in Seneca Rocks, stop by the AMC store there and pick up their trail maps for the area that include Spruce Peak, the tallest in WV. There are miles and miles of trails... And at that altitude, you can guarantee snow.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
June 13, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I was up in the CV area this weekend mountainbiking on the Canaan Loop road. I noticed that there is a cross country ski trail that links Blackwater State Park and Canaan Valley State Park. That would be a nice long run. From Canaan State Park, you can cross country ski to White Grass and from there, either head up to Dolly Sods or to Mount Porte Crayon.

Unfortunately, WV does not have a long cross country trail like Vermont's Catamount Trail but with some creativity, you could probably find a way to cross country ski around the Canaan Valley/Laneville area for 4-5 straight days without using the same trail twice. The trick is to stay above 3,000 feet as much as possible because any WV native will tell you that there is no snow at low altitude (NSLA).

Again, Chip Chase, the owner of White Grass, is the person to talk to. He'll tell you the best time of winter to attempt such a treck and the best routes.
wgo
June 14, 2004
Member since 02/10/2004
1,261 posts
Wow! I wasn't sure what kind of feedback I would get, given that we are approaching summer. Glad to see so many people still hanging around here [Smile]

I definitely want to do some sort of backcountry this winter. I still need to get the proper equipment. If I confine myself to day trips I may try to get by with the Alpine Trekker system and my standard alpine setup; if I end up doing multiday trips then I guess a bonafide touring setup would be the way to go. Or I could try to learn to telemark. Decisions, Decisions...
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