Best Expert Skiing Options?
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7 users
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September 26, 2009
Member since 09/26/2009 🔗
4 posts

I've been lurking around here for a while, but this is my first post. I've been skiing for over twenty years, and have had the extraordinary good fortune of getting 15-20 days in Colorado (the vast majority in Telluride) for the past number of years. For a variety of reasons, I'm not going to get out West as much so I'm looking into my local options.

Save for a half day of February skiing on rentals at Whitetail a few years ago, I've never skied on the East Coast. I did come across Snowshoe by chance a couple of years ago and it looked promising.

I grew up skiing in the Midwest - so I understand limited vertical drop, more limited terrain variety, and what resorts with manmade snow mean when they say "hardpack" on a snow report.

When I'm out West, I prefer to ski bumps or ungroomed runs on the blacks and double blacks. Like I said, I realize that I won't find a run like Telluride's Plunge in Virginia, but I've seen reports of bumps and steeper runs in the forum that have definitely piqued my interest. That being said, it's hard to get a handle on how the various places compare.

I live in DC, and am seeking opinions on the resorts with the best expert terrain in the region, both in terms of places I can hit for a 2 or 3 day weekend, or a comparison of the places closer to DC that I could hit for a day trip (Liberty, Whitetail, the VA resorts, etc.). My ideal is a place with some decent bumps on a decent pitch that I can make laps, build up a little lactic acid, scare myself occasionally, and have some fun.

Any and all advice is very much welcomed; thanks in advance.
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter 
September 26, 2009
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,110 posts
When Shay's Revenge at Snowshoe is open and bumped up, it will give you what you seek. So will Extrovert at Blue Knob, but usually it is a sheet of ice bumps.
The Colonel smile
September 26, 2009
Member since 09/26/2009 🔗
4 posts
Thanks, Colonel, for the info. Both of these places look promising...
September 27, 2009
Member since 12/3/2004 🔗
339 posts
Timberline is IMO, the best pitch, terrain, vertical and snow combined in the PA/VA/WV area (without going all the way up to Elk).

Sure it doesn't have the snow making abilities of say Wisp or 7S, but it has what they don't: really good terrain for the Mid Atlantic. It's also at a higher elevation that gets more natural snow.
September 27, 2009
Member since 09/26/2009 🔗
4 posts
Thanks, Taylormatt, I appreciate it.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
September 27, 2009
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,963 posts
The other suggestions are good. You can usually get some close-to-town bump practice at Liberty and Whitetail within 80 mins of DC. Watch for chatter on this website in January about good conditions shaping up at Blue Knob, PA. When things are good there it is the best advanced skiing in the region IMHO. BK is close enough to DC (3 hrs) for a long day trip, or better for a weekend. There's more on what the advanced skiing is like at BK here:

Ugh, watching those Redskins is driving me crazy crazy
September 27, 2009
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,551 posts
I'll also nominate Timberline and Blue Knob. I have a season pass at T-Line, and I ski BK at least 1-2 trips a year.

As another close-in option to Whitetail and Liberty, Gunbarrel trail at Roundtop is one of the most challenging runs in the Mid-Atlantic; but it has very little vertical (weakness of both Liberty and Roundtop.)

When the snow is blowing right, I've hit some great powder conditions at Seven Springs. Ditto Wisp. The areas west of the Allegheny divide (Snowshoe, Timberline, Canaan Valley, Seven Springs, Wisp, others?) *generally* get significantly more natural snow than do areas in the rest of the region. Blue Knob seems to get just a bit less than the areas I've mentioned.

It has been closed the past few years, but Laurel Mountain (near Seven Springs) has some nice terrain with a few challenging trails.
September 28, 2009
Member since 01/18/2005 🔗
2,066 posts
To echo what they say and to add additional info, I have taught at both the shoe and t-line and will take t-line over the shoe anyday. Many fewer idiots on the steeps. Also, I always look for a strong cold front blowing across the lakes which adds to the snow total at elevation via lake effect. Usually this means anywhere up to feet of fresh pow-pow, but get there early before the groomers get it! On big pow days in early season, we usually poach the steeps and trees in our rock skis. whistle Most mountains won't let you do this. frown
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter 
September 28, 2009
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,576 posts
I've skied "The Plunge" and you won't find a trail like that around here, unfortunately. The runs recommended above are about as close as you can get. The Plunge is long and consistently steep the entire way down. A real thigh burner. When I skied it, I kept getting out of breath due to the high elevation. That whole side of the mountain offers some great skiing (Milk Run is another favorite).
I have never been to Snowshoe, but I understand the drive there is quite long. Another option is to drive to Vermont and go to Mt. Snow. The North Face at Mt. Snow has some nice sustained pitches and the snow is a little more consistent than here in the banana belt. Of course, this is where we live an ski so we try to make the best of it. Blue Knob offers the most challenge from my experience, but snow conditions there can be iffy.
Welcome to the area.
October 1, 2009
Member since 09/26/2009 🔗
4 posts
Thanks to everyone for these great responses. There's a lot of great information in here. Part of what makes skiing interesting is finding new areas and new challenges. You all have certainly given me more than enough to chew on for a while.

Snowsmith - if you haven't been to Telluride lately, they've added a ton of amazing terrain in the last few years - and still no crowds. I am going to make it out there after all in December, but I'll be looking for some weekend getaways around here later in the season.

Thanks, again, to everyone for their thoughts.
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