Actually, it's okay. Certainly not like out west, or even up north. But it doesn't suck either. Well, that is unless they don't have any snow. Having no snow sucks no matter what ski resort you are at.
Here's my main reasons for liking Ski Liberty:
Did I metntion that it was close?
Early in the day, and during the week, it is empty. That's the best time to be skiing.
They have an all new lodge and facilities, nothing run down here.
They have a nice bar. Very important.
They have good snowmaking equipment. As long as it is cold, they can blow a lot of snow in one night.
They have a good number of slopes to run.
I just like it. No particularly tangeable reason here, but just a good gut feeling.
I bought a seasons pass this year. I'm gonna be there a lot, I'd better like it.
1. Location, location, location (oops - already said that).
2. Bar (very important for apre-ski - Whitetail is in a dry county).
3. Steeper runs (okay okay - so its only about 50 yards - at least its there!).
4. Backside with deck area and BATHROOMS!
5. Variety of trails.
6. Updated facilities.
7. New decks on the top of the hill (note - NOT mountain - those are in the Western U.S.).
8. Alpine run mogul park (if it opens this year).
To be fair - here are some things that could use improving:
1. Paved the parking lot.
2. Lower the prices on food!!
3. More terrain.
4. Higher elevation (okay - so I'm dreaming).
5. More natural snow (still dreaming).
6. More close in parking! (how about getting the Carroll Valley resort to open up their UNUSED parking lot??
All in all - still a fun place to go. And for all you New England and Rocky Mountain ski snobs who won't go local - remember, a trip to Liberty or Whitetail won't cost you a plane ticket!
- Rentals require you to fill out a form with the same damn information each time (age, height, weight, ski style, etc, etc). This is silly for skiers that have Night Program season passes. Especially since I had to supply the same info yet again when I bought the passes! Why keep asking for this info?
(You have to understand, I have to fill out these stupid forms for myself AND kids - each time. I'm paying $ for the convenience of rentals - it oughta BE convenient.)
- Food prices - yes, they are high although I've come to expect that from ski places so it doesn't bother me so much. Really, a ski place like Liberty is all about "paying for convenience" (and giving up certain things like price, better snow, etc). That said, however, I do recall that Whitetail's food is cheaper and BETTER. (In other words, it is acceptable for food to be expensive if it wasn't so damn lousy.) I just bring my own food now.
Children's ski classes - every year they say the same thing to me: "Your child is under 7? just lie and if no one catches it (how could they?) you can get lessons for your kids at the cheaper rate." This is really stupid knowingly having people lie. But parents see the tremendous difference between lessons arrangements for >=7 and <7 yr olds (in terms of price and times) and what do you think happens? So it's either lie or pay ridiculous prices for private lessons. More evening children's classes, too. (Heck, ANY evening children's classes!)
- Lying about base depths. Right now, their web page says "12-20 inches". That's such a sad joke. I figure it will be "12-20 inches" all season no matter what is on the ground there including ice, dirt, and lost goodwill.
- Snowmaking. Why didn't they make any snow last night? Temp was cold enough and they certainly need snow. Last year, they didn't make any snow at the end of the season which turned out to be a horrible mistake as the weather stayed cold and the ground stayed bare. Someone told me that making snow is very expensive. Ok, so then I can understand what happened last year as an unlucky guess. But right now, we're in the heart of the season so why aren't they making snow at every opportunity? It's not as if there is a forecast for impending snow. I'm really tempted to ask for my money back on my Night Passes. I haven't used them yet this season. I was thinking of going up tonight but the pictures on their own daily snow cam show a dreadful scene.
Sorry to go on - but these are the things that irritate me most about Ski Liberty. Actually, the food thing I really don't care about, I just figured I'd comment on someone's else view. Frankly, I can't believe some of the other concerns that have been raised. (Pave the parking lot? Don't be silly. Put the $ into snowmaking!)
Actually, many of the complaints you bring up could be applied to the ski industry in general.
I've ofen wondered how ski resorts determine base depth, so I researched this in the past. Each resort has slightly different methods but they're generally the same. Average base depth is average skiable depth - many trails might have thin cover (or even *no* cover on parts), but these generally aren't factored into the base depth because skiers generally don't ski on those parts of the trails (especially the bare spots!) Resorts will usually report that thin or bare conditions exist, but you probably won't see base depths starting at zero inches.
Generally, most resorts want to be honest in their reporting because they want repeat visits. They don't want skiers to feel misled about conditions, have a bad experience, and then not revisit. I've found all of the resorts I report on to be honest, and of course one of the benefits of DCSki is that you can get candid, firsthand reports from other skiers.
In terms of making snow, I don't believe any of the resorts in the area were able to make snow last night (even Snowshoe, at 5,000 feet in West Virginia). Being at or below freezing is not enough. Humidity also has to be very low, and last night it was too high. At very dry conditions, the snowguns can fire at (or even a little above freezing), but as the humidity creeps up the required temperature for snowmaking goes down - way down.
In terms of making snow late in the season, it is unfortunately not economically feasible for resorts to do this, even if weather is fantastic for snowmaking. Right around the beginning of March, most people (except the diehards) simply move their thoughts from skiing to other activities - and skier visits drop sharply - even if conditions are perfect. Keeping a resort operating is very expensive (it's not just the snowmaking - which is extremely expensive - but also having all the staff on hand, etc.), so at some point in the season the expense of keeping the resort open is greater than the income produced.
Liberty aint the greatest place to board, but hey, this is the EAST Coast we're talking about here. It's a nice place with excellent snowmaking, cool staff, good facilities, and a nice bar! Can we really ask for more?
I found their atmosphere very friendly, with a diverse community of students, government, business, diplomats, and just people who wanted to have fun. Food was also good at the pub. That's from someone who hasn't touched a french fry or a hamburger in 20 years. I don't eat fried, period, and they had a good selection of alternative food. Some may disagree but I loved their pretzels at the pub. Wish they had a more varied selection of draught beer, though.
Although I do prefer the Shoe, I can't put 500 miles every weekend on my car, and so I will be returning to Liberty, perhaps often, or perhaps after getting the conditions at Liberty and Whitetail and making up my mind as to where to go.
Another interesting sideline of the Liberty area is the drive back to DC. At Emmitsburg, I stopped at the Ott House, a pub that serves as the watering hole for the students attending the National Fire Academy nearby. Really interesting flavor. Patches from virtually every fire station on the globe. And they have Guiness.
As for spending money on snowmaking equipment - Liberty has spent boatloads. Last year, the equipment was upgraded significantly by the addition of a chiller that cools the water before it hits the air. It used to hit the air at some ridiculously high temperature like 60F. So the water coming out of the pipes had to cool before it could freeze requiring really low air and dewpoint temps. Now with the chiller, water comes out of the pipes at 40F or lower thus allowing a quicker freeze time. In addition, the year before, Liberty upgraded the pump system and the piping to allow higher volumes of water to be pumped to the trails (I believe the capacity was doubled). So Liberty has spent money on snowmaking, even during these past several lean seasons.
As for your other complaints - have you passed them on to Ski Liberty? Management there seems pretty open to customer feedback. You can always send them a message off their website.
Behind warning flags smack in the middle of trails, virgin snow could be measured at 2 inches.
Now I'm willing to accept the virgin measurement but it's still only 2 inches. In any case, it is ludicrous to advertise 12+ base depth when, for all practical purposes, its ice below with an inch or less on top.