In today's (18 June) Wash. Times there is an excellent article on the new owner's potential plans and timing for developing a ski area at Tory Mountain. Check it out!
This is the text of the article by my favorite columnist in Washington, Bill Clapper:
"A mountain in West Virginia is being looked at as a possible winter resort, and if the new owners go in that direction it would mean a major facility easily accessible to skiers and snowboarders in the Washington area.
Marsh Mt. LLC, one of five partners that own Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort, McHenry, Md., closed on the sale of 1,500 acres of Tory Mountain, mostly in Randolph County outside Harmon, W.Va. The group will close on an additional 200 some acres in a few weeks making the entire purchase about 1,700 acres. Purchase price was placed at $4.5 million. Marsh Mt. is a family-held, real estate holding company in McHenry.
"We're a few years away from deciding whether to develop it into a resort," said Karen Myers, one of the principals in the Marsh Mt. group. "Our predecessors in title [of the property] wanted to build a ski resort but we don't know about that. We want to think about it and study it." Myers is also CEO of Wisp resort.
In the mid-1980s a group owned Tory and built an access road and cleared some trails on the mountain in anticipation of developing it as a ski resort. But reports indicate the group ran out of money and abandoned those plans.
The section of Tory Mountain that Marsh bought has northern exposure, a vertical drop of more than 1,000 feet, a base area above the 3,000-foot level and a peak that tops out at around 4,500 feet.
Those mountain statistics would put a potential ski area on Tory in the same league as Canaan Valley (850 feet of vertical, 3,400 feet at the base, 4,280-foot summit) and Timberline (1,000 vertical, 3,268 base, 4,268 summit ) both in Davis about 20 miles north. Snowshoe Mountain, 70 miles south of Tory in Pocahontas County has a 1,500-foot drop from its 4,848-foot summit. Snowshoe's base area is on top of the mountain.
There is no development at all on Tory mountain, save for the abandoned access road. Myers said Marsh Mt.'s immediate plans include improvements to the road, a bridge to span a river and a select-cut timber harvest.
A resort on Tory mountain would become the closest West Virginia ski area to the District and access would be easy as more sections of an on-going road project in West Virginia known as Corridor-H come on line. Reports indicate it will be five to seven years before the final sections of Corridor-H are completed."
Is it possible to sit on a nearly 5 million dollar investment "for a few years to think about it"??I guess 5 mill is not that much nowadays when you think about it.The interest rates might be sky high in a few years when they need the money to dev.After 2 excellent winters in the area maybe its a weather gamble also.
$5 million will buy you a small house in Cleveland Park. It's not a lot of money, but I don't think money is the issue. I think the issue is weather, and water. When the original investor group tried to develop this mountain, I suspect that they thought they could get away with developing a mountain that did not have 100 percent snowmaking. If you look at Timberline's experience, it becomes very evident that 100 percent snowmaking is a requirement. There's very little natural snow terrain left at Timberline even though the mountain receives over 150 inches a year. But 100 percent snowmaking still is not enough. A mountain has to have the capability to blow snow on many slopes simultaneously. Snowshoe, 7 Springs, Wisp, and Whitetail have this capability in spades. That's why these mountains are opening first with the most terrain in the region. Timberline is improving its capability in this regard but still has a long way to go.
To succeed, Tory will have to develop a wicked snowmaking capability, and be able to blast snow on 3-4 1,200 vert. slopes simultaneously. That will take a lot of water and a lot of power. Harman is not nearly as water rich as the Canaan Valley, so a MAJOR system of reservoirs and holding areas will need to be constructed. In short, $40-50 million will need to be dumped into Tory to make it viable as a ski and snowboard center, and so Ms. Myers and her investment group will want to do their homework and also wait for more sections of Corridor H to open before pulling the trigger on a new resort.
Now the good news is that I don't think she will have too much trouble with environmental groups. According to sources at the Highlands Conservancy, Tory has always been their first choice for a new ski center. Such a center would revitalize Harman and not encroach on the Roaring Plains.
What can we do? Visit nearby ski centers in CV to convince the investor group that demand is high. Write letters of encouragement. Think snow.
If you compare ski resorts with non-ski resorts in WV, it's obvious that ski slopes bring a lot of value to an area, but they also come at a very high cost, both to develop and operate.
The answer may be buried somewhere in the DC Ski archives, but what is the approximate annual snowfall of Tory Mtn? I know it receives less snow than Canaan Valley.
High/low temperature averages and rainfall averages for Harman:
Nov 49°F 25°F 37°F 3.85 in.
Dec 39°F 18°F 29°F 3.94 in.
Jan 35°F 14°F 24°F 4.02 in.
Feb 39°F 16°F 27°F 3.70 in.
Mar 47°F 23°F 35°F 4.63 in.
Apr 57°F 31°F 44°F 4.32 in.
Nov 48°F 27°F 38°F 3.98 in.
Dec 39°F 20°F 29°F 3.87 in.
Jan 34°F 15°F 24°F 4.21 in.
Feb 38°F 17°F 27°F 3.75 in.
Mar 47°F 24°F 35°F 4.62 in.
Apr 56°F 32°F 44°F 4.02 in.
You'll note that Davis has slightly lower winter temperatures--especially the nightly lows.
But before everyone jumps on me for this chart, here are the standard disclaimers:
Timberline and Canaan Valley are located in the Canaan Valley--a colder, higher altitude, and wetter location than Davis.
Tory's base will be significantly higher in altitude than the hamlet of Harman. The NW exposure of those slopes also mean they will get more snow and hold it longer. Therefore, until Marsh collects its weather data, we'll probably not have a good idea of the Tory microclimate for at least a few years.
WV Dept. of Transportation may have some data on snowfall on 33 between Harman and Elkins. That would be a better gauge of annual precipitation than Weather.com. Also, I wonder if the Alpina Lodge has ever collected any data.
The person who runs all the crews at T-LINE(i forget his name)lived over at JOB or near there,which is just at the western base of tory.I remember my friend who worked for him telling me that he used to comment on the deep snows he had to drive thru to get to work at T-line.I'd bet that all the above 4000' mtns on the west side of the front get 170" to 190" at the top.tory's base might get 140 vs canaans 150.Would love to know for sure.I do know that Chip at WG thinks MPC is the top dog in the snow dept.200"?? 95-96 320" reported at top of chairlift at T-LINE anybody remember that year?
Last winters ave temps in canaan were as follows..dec hi 32.4-lo 19.1 jan 26.6/10.0 feb 31.9/15.3 tory might be a degree higher?
According to the article, Tory would be 20 miles from Timberline? That doesn't sound right. I don't really go much on 32 S past T-Line (I usually take 93 route instead) so maybe I'm wrong. From when I last drove past there, I thought the potential ski area at Tory was maybe 5 miles south (at most) of Canaan Village area on 32S.
Out of curiosity, are there any colder and snowier hamlets in WV that are colder and snowier than Davis, Harman, etc?? I've always wondered that. Does anyone know what the snowiest large town/small city (think of something the size of Elkins) is in WV? Is it Elkins perhaps, or is there anything similar that is even colder/snowier? This kind of trivia is fun, so let's get the answers going
With regard to the local economic impact that a new resort would bring, have there ever been any studies done on the actual impact that existing resorts have had? For instance, what has happened to per capita income in the area by Snowshoe pre and post resort (and for that matter, per capita income pre and post Intrawest)? I would be interested in seeing these numbers and they may be useful for framing some of the development-related discussions that occasionally pop up here.
Snowshoe is the 2d largest employer in Pocahantas County.
Ski resorts like Snowshoe are also an important aspect of West Virginia's long-term goal of transitioning from a mining, forestry, and agricultural economy to a tourism based economy similar to Vermont.
WV needs Tory more than Tory needs WV. Tory would create a critical mass of ski resorts in the CV, making the area more attractive for longer term guests. Presumably, it would have more modern lifts and services than Timberline and CV, making it the key draw in region as well. Currently, Timberline/CV don't have the off-slope ammenities to really be considered destination resorts, but with Tory, they could end up getting a lot of spillover business, kind of like Bromley for Stratton or Pico for Killington.
I just checked out the location of Tory Mountain on Topozone & Mapquest. Tory would be a longer drive than Canaan/Timberline if you took the northern routes to the area. If you took the sourthern route (28 to 33 via Seneca Rocks), it's a slightly shorter drive. But the Seneca Rocks route has that nasty climb on 33. I've only done it once; it was at night but the roads were clear. Wouldn't enjoy taking that route during a snowstorm.
Besides Blue Knob and Cherry Bowl in Timberline, has there been commercial logging at any other local areas? Seems like you risk making the mountain less scenic and the added debris in the woods would hurt tree skiing.
Tory Mountain is located south of Harman on US 33. As you head out of the Valley, take a right onto US 33 South, pass through Harman, then look for the access road to Spruce Knob Lake on the left before the initial climb up Rich Mountain.
Head aways down this road, keeping a watchful eye out on the left side for what looks like a road on the left that leads up into an area of significantly higher elevation. This is the access road to Tory Mountain.
There are people that commute to SS from as far away as Philipi,wv(my last van driver at SS)Thats way up near clarksburg.Tory would be closer for them.Tory would be about 15 mls from the south end of canaan vly.Maybe Timberline could be Tory's Bromley..& Tory could be "almost heaven"'s Pico! SWEET!
Which was founded first, Pico or Killington? Tell your man to get moving!