Wintergreen Night skiing TR 1/1/10 - Robbie Allen
I had not been to WTG in a while and was impressed with the efforts they had made to improve. Over all the coverage was good. The snow was frozen gradual not icy but hard as rock. No signs of last weeks big dump nor the rains this week. The guns were up but low humidity and winds made them not a factor. It was cold and getting colder all night. Crowds were a bit of an issue. The huge full moon made it a very pretty night to be on the hill.
As I headed out there to night ski this past Friday night, I had figured New Years Day evening would have lowest volume of the holiday week. This turned out not to be the case. I arrived at WTG right at five PM and there was a swam of folks coming down off the mountain. That should have been my first warning. Then I stood in line for a lift ticket for at least 20 minutes, which should have been my second warning. But as I had driven two hours to get there I forged on. I hiked on to the slopes with my $27 lift ticket (military discount :))and ran into the herd. So much for low volume. It seems all the kids staying in the condos were finally kicked out of bed and sent to the slopes! It was packed.
I clicked in and made a run down Upper and Lower Dobie to the Blue Ridge Express six pack lift. You would think a six pack lift could clear the crowds, but alas no. The workers running the lift kept allowing less than full chairs up the hill and folks kept falling off. Thus the lift kept stopping. I couldn't help but think as I stood in line for 20 minutes, that this lift might load and run better if turned the other way. Having folks load into the turn of the bull whip didn't make much sense to me. But after a interminal wait I finally got on.
The slopes on this slide of the hill were still quite full. And I was bummed as WTG has not made the effort to light any runs of the Highland Express. It was still twilight I could just see those run over there calling my name. But alas no WTG has not made the investment yet. I would think it is because WTG is still more of a condo destination than a day/night trip place. So it probably doesn't make sense in their business plan to light those trails, but I sure wish they would!
Once off the Highland Express I made a run down Upper and Lower Diamond. Dodging bodies the whole way. Back in line for the six-pack again. I became more aggressive and worked my way on to the chair in 5 minutes. Of course it stopped a few times on the way up just to spite me.
Once at the top I had had enough of the herds of this side of the resort. I skated down Upper X Loop trail through the tunnel and on to Eagles Swoop to the Big Acorn lift. Here I found peace. I was able to make laps off this chair for the rest of the night without too much delay at the lift. They were blowing snow on Upper Eagles Swoop and Sunrise , but the winds and low humidity really didn't make it too much of an issue. The highlight of the night was the Big Acorn trail. There were no guns on it and the snow was fast. I worked all the open trails off this lift ( Sunrise, Upper Tryo and Eagles Swoop) but Big Acorn was the most fun. I don't know why WTG doesn't light Lower Tryo. A nice long blue might take some pressure off the other side of the hill.
I meet several nice folks on the lift during my 3 hour stay. Most had been there for the Hoilday week. Most of the kids I spoke to had only been out since noon. As I suspected thus the bigger night ski crowds than I expected.
Overall once I escaped the herds on the Highland Express I had a nice night. Thus at eight thirty, cold and winded I made my way back to the packing lot. Loaded my ski's back on the ski-hiker and headed home by the light of the full moon. I was quite pleased with my first turns of the new year
that was the blue ridge express you were riding for the crowded green slopes, the highlands express is the one for the slopes you wish you were on.
and that's the way wintergreen has run the night skiing for years. I agree, tyro should be lighted, but otoh there is rarely enough people there to justify the expense. there are older photos of the highlands area lighted for night skiing, but i have never seen it.
I did meet skibummsp on the acorn lift one night !
Even in the crowds on dec 30, the highlands lift had no lines at all. Try to return during the daytime, and you'll like it a lot better.
Well...just imagine what it would be like if that Blue Ridge Express lift was not a high speed 6. You figured it out though...take a warm-up on Dobie then head over to Big Acorn if the Highlands are closed. Eagles Swoop can get a little crowded now and then but the other hills are usually fine. If you use the singles lines and keep on your toes you will very rarely wait more than a minute or 2 on the quad over there.
Big Acorn has been very nice this year so far.
As for night skiing in the Highlands, some of those slopes start getting pretty slick after about 3:30 so that might have something to do with it as well.
Junior Ski Partner (now Junior Rider) and I will be up there tomorrow afternoon.
screw the warmup on dobie. park at discovery ridge and walk right onto eagles swoop. cross over to highlands and later ride the shorty triple to get back. works like a charm, and you never have to ride the blue ridge express. btw, they are now 100% open and looking better than the last few years, so it's a good time to go.
Pagamony...you are 100% correct that is THE way to go. Actually I cannot remember the last time I took a ride all the way down Dobie.
I was out there today. Cold as ^%&#@! but the snow was not too bad if you avoided a few well known icy spots. They were putting down some dry stuff out of the guns so that actually helped in spots.
Devils Elbow (like always) was a sheet of ice all day Saturday. I typically only ride this slope once or twice a ski day, and can't imagine skiing it at night even if it was lit.
Despite the powerful winds Saturday afternoon, Eagle was a consistent treat. Every run (particularly the top left side) was on a fresh blanket of snow. Must have been the perfect combination of snowmaking and wind-blown snow.