I guess I am also honor bound to say that I teach at Liberty and am therefore, through corporate relationships, tied to Whitetail in a rather attentuated fashion.
It is a shame that you had a bad experience. Skiing is about having fun, and you obviously did not have any. That being said:
1. Due to wide temperature swings, sun beating on the snow and other factors, conditions in the alps of southeastern PA change hourly. A snow report written at 7 AM will have no meaning at 2 PM, particularly from this time of year on until closing.
2. Even if the snow doesn't change, snow reports are, industry wide, a strange mixture of fact and fiction. For example, packed powder can mean anything from a carpet of butter to ice you can read a newspaper through from 3 feet up. Granular = Snow Cone like material ranging in consistency from light dry sand to congealed oatmeal. Average base depth = somewhere on our mountain there is a pile of snow that, on the average, is as deep as we say it is. Mud and rocks - "What are those?"
3. Use your head. Snow conditions depend on the weather. Hmm, week before this weekend - warm temps and some rain = moist snow. Low temps at night = freeze = granular.
Warm and partially sunny or sunny during the day with a mountain having all its trails facing south in to the sun = melting wet snow or slush. Even if grooming would help this (which it wouldn't) you cant send groomers out on the mountain during the day on a holiday weekend - the skiers get caught up in the treads and make a mess. The mountain, the snow and the skiers are at the mercy of the weather.
4. Two hours getting through the rental shop. That is obviously a nightmare and nobody running an area would or should be happy about that. However, can we say "President's Day Weekend?" Are shopping malls crowded on the weekend after thanksgiving? HELLO????
However, I do agree that 2 hours (if accurate) in the rental area is extreme and should be fixed by Whitetail management.
I agree - go easy on Otto. I've known him for several years now and the LAST thing ANYONE should accuse him of is being a Ski Liberty/Whitetail lackey. They (instructor management) don't call him "Mr. Good Attitude" (read sarcasm) for nothing. Besides, READ his post. His second point explained the "creative" method areas have for measuring snow depth. That's why we have first hand reports on DCSki.
As for Whitetail, keep in mind that Snow Time, Inc. just bought Whitetail this FALL. Sixty to ninety days is hardly enough time to make radical changes to a ski area. Moreover, the new buyer had enough trouble just finding staff. Remember, Whitetail has been having financial troubles for several years. When the area went up for sale last spring, they lost almost all their staff. That meant going back to square one to try to hire as many people as necessary. In fact, a few patrollers from Liberty went to help out at Whitetail. So give them a break. Noticable improvements will take some time.
As for hiring staff, keep in mind the location of areas like Whitetail and Ski Liberty. Its rural. There's not a whole lot of people out there to recruit.
As for dealing with two hour rental lines, there is a solution - rent your skis at a ski shop BEFORE you go up!! Takes a little planning, but beats a two hour wait in a rental line. Prices are usually better! There's even a better solution - buy skis. Especially this time of year, shops are going to start having all kinds of end of season sales.
If money is a problem, hit a ski swap. They occur like clockwork in the fall and this area seems to have more than its fair share of swaps with people trying to sell skis that have been used barely one season. Takes a little digging, but it can be worth it! One of the best swaps (shameless plug for Ski Liberty Ski Patrol warning) is the one at Ski Center around late October/early November. If you stick around til the end, anything left over (i.e., not reclaimed) is auctioned off. I bought my sister a pair of barely used skis at a swap last year for $15.00 that way (that's not a typo - fifteen dollars was what I paid).
Finally, a word on snow conditions. As someone who has been the first down a trail, and the last one off at night, I can tell you that conditions WILL change RADICALLY over time. Snow reports are written first thing in the morning. Snow is just groomed, bare spots are combed over and the stuff is incredible. Three hours of ski traffic and sun and the stuff is totally unrecognizable as what was first reported. A whole day later, complete with thaw/freeze cycle and you've got trails that look nothing like what was first reported. Should areas update trail conditions? SURE! But do you want someone writing trail reports three times a day or serving the skiers that are already there?
I've spent time at LIBERTY, ROUNDTOP, and WHITETAIL, and you cannot judge one resort by the others (allthough the same management group owns them all).
I'm really not certin why LIBERTY is head and shoulders above the other resorts, but I'm thankfull for it!
I have personaly spent over an hour in line in the rental shop at ROUNDTOP, and WHITETAIL's terrain is unfixable. My reccommendation would be to go to LIBERTY instead of the other two, the staff has always been fantastic at Liberty, and the backside of the mountain tends to not be as crowded.
I rode there on Saturday from 10am till 8:45 pm..... GREAT!!
You got me. I am a company whore. I wear fishnet stockings under my ski pants when I teach.
Actually my point was that if you ski enough you come to the conclusion that snow reports are, at best, rough approximations of what you will find when you arrive. Plus, conditions do change, and in a climate like this, they change hourly.
I was attemtpting to say that you are much better off thinking a little about what the weather has been like and getting as much unbiased info as you can rather than assuming the snow report is accurate. There are lots of weather web sites that can give you a multi day history for a location. These are very useful. More and more areas have web cams that might actually reveal something about conditions.
I have been burned by bad conditions more times than I care to think about. I recently drove many hours to go to a two day bump clinic to find that the mountain had been groomed flat the day before!!!!
Therefore, I am very sympathetic to those who have had bad experiences and I will restate my central point - take snow reports for what they are, get informed about the local weather, find independent sources if you can and expect to find crowds on holiday weekends.
Prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance....a case of the 7 p's
Don't blame your lack of experience on what could have potentially been a fun day just because you didn't plan it well.