Timberline Conditions
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(Anonymous)
January 28, 2002
Skied Timberline this past weekend, and conditions were quite good. They have oodles of snow on the trails that are open: they have four trails open from the top (Salamander, White Lightning, Dew Drop, Thunderdraft) and will have no problems lasting through this current warm spell (and snow is in their forecast for the end of this week). In fact, it looks like enough snowpack to last through their closing date in April. Snow was a bit icy due to the recent rain but no one was complaining.

My major complaint was why their intermediate trail Almost Heaven was not open even though it is covered with plenty of snow. What are they saving it for? Also, the usual complaint about the long lines at the lifts. The slopes were empty since it seemed everyone was waiting to get on the lifts. Additionally, I wish they would work at getting some of their more difficult terrain open.

Riding the lifts, someone told me that a guy is purchasing property on a mountain just south of the Canaan Resort (you can see it to the left of the road where the Golden Anchor restaurant is on route 32) to develop a new ski resort with 2000 vertical feet. Apparently this guy tried to buy Timberline from the current owners with no success. Anyone have information about this?

Another note: the portion of Corridor H from Wardensville to Moorefield is making significant progress; I hear it might be ready by next winter, speeding up the drive for those who head to Canaan Valley or Snowshore via route 55.

(Anonymous)
January 28, 2002
Just wanted to chime in on Timberline conditions. I also skiied at Timberline this past weekend- there is very good snow coverage- I was very impressed with how deep the base was and the quality of the snow. Considering that it had just rained for 2 days- the conditions were quite good. There should be planey of snow on Herz mountain through March.

My group stayed in one of the houses on Salamander- absolutely fantastic. It was huge w/ hot tub and 6 decks- and cheap for a large group. This was my first time there- and it is a great place.

Complaints:
(1) The standard lift complaint. I know that the slow lifts keep fewer people off the trails- but- the bottom line is that they need a new lift or 2. They are painfully slow. It takes 30 minutes to wait in lift lines and then ride the lift and then 5 minutes to get down the mountain.

(2) They really should open more trails. I understand the points about making a huge base and moving the snow-making equipment to different trails- but it seems to me that the more trails they have open directly coorelates to the quality of the skiing experience and should atract more people to the mountain. Why cant they open a trail with a 40 inch base and increase the base at night? My guess is that most people would prefer a 40 inch base at 100% open to a 60 inch base at 60% open any day. It seems to me that the management is much more focused on saving money that providing a qualtiy skiing experience.

Overall- we had a great time and the conidtions at Timberline are very good.

ski_guy_59
January 28, 2002
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
thanks for the info. as i recall, snowshoe has lots of room for development, especially on the back side. as long as there arent any homes there. havent been up there in six years....so i cant really say anything. also, when i get up to the shoe in march, im gonna pick up their long range development plan. there is talk of developing on the other side of shavers lake. we'll see. thanks again guys.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
January 28, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Wilbur:

Given the constant threat of thaws in the Mid-Atlantic, Timberline simply cannot make snow any other way given their current capabilities. I've talked at length with management there on this issue and this is the way it is going to be until snowmaking can be improved.

If you want lots of terrain, 100 percent coverage early on in the season, and high speed lifts, head to Snowshoe. It is definitely more expesnive, but you get what you pay for in extra skiing. This is why I occasionally drive to Snowshoe even though I own a place at Timberline. You can ski yourself sick on the Western Territory in a couple of hours with that high speed quad! It is awsome and worth paying extra lift ticket bucks for.

I love Timberline but until the current owner sells the place to a company that has adequate resources to invest in the resort, it ain't going to change that much. Mountain Manager Tom Blanzy (he's the manager, not the owner) has all the right ideas, he just needs the resources to impliment them. With corporate money, Tom could transform the place over night, but he needs the $$$$.

On the other hand, my wife and many others like Timberline just the way it is and hope that people don't flock there in large numbers. She wants Snowshoe to be the big WV destination mountain. This will leave Timberline to a small group of devotees like herself. Any improvements, she argues, will make the place more popular and hence, less fun. Any unit owner understands the pure joy of waking up at 8 am and having the mountain to themselves for an hour. First tracks are indeed yummy at Timberline. Racers love the race courses, and beginners can't get enough of Salamander. It's a good mountain. People love it and loyalty to it is strong.

Right now, the ball is in the owner's court. There are a lot of property investors and others who are very anxious to see some changes happen soon. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 5 years or so. Perhaps, as my wife thinks, no change is good and we will all be happier in the long run by sticking with the owner's current "limited change" philosophy. Heck, Mad River thrives on just such an attitude. Timberline, ski it if you can! Well, uhh, maybe....

PS With respect to Snowshoe, the current plan is to develop more neighborhoods (i.e. condos) first and then focus on terrain expansion.

PhysicsMan
January 28, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
> ...Mount Porte Crayon and the Roaring
> Plains are one of the last great unspoiled
> pieces of wilderness area in the Mid-
> Atlantic, and the home of all sorts of
> rare plants and animals.

> Any developer looking to build a resort
> there would have to seek permission from
> the Forrest Service-an action which would
> inevitably spark legal action from
> environmental groups.

I have skied since the '70's and have hiked and backpacked in the Dolly Sods / Mt. Porte Crayon area for the same length of time so I feel that I can see both sides of this issue. I have never been environmentally active, but I must state that if plans were made to develop that area of WVa, I would be the first in the long line of protesters that you predicted.

Mt. Porte Crayon is just what WVa is all about - wild, wonderful and isolated. I'm getting a bit old to backpack as much as I used to, so I'm not trying to protect my own pet area, but rather, I would like to see nearby wild areas like that protected for our sons and daughters.

Tom / PM

[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited 01-29-2002).]

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
January 29, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
It warms my heart to hear that the snow cover is still sound on Herz Mountain. Thank you for the encouraging report.

With respect to the opening of Upper Almost Heaven, Timberline likes to put down a base of 60 inches before it opens a trail. There are several reasons for this:

1. It generally means that once snowmaking is finished on a trail, little to no additional snowmaking will be required on that trail for the season and snowmaking resources can be moved to other trails.

2. 60 inches prevents bare spots from forming during our notorious Mid-Atlantic thaws.

Timberline wants to double its snowmaking capability within 3 years. That should allow the mountain to open more trails sooner in the future.

As for the rumored mountain south of Timberline near the Golden Anchor, I've been working on an article about that mountain, but since the topic has come up, I'll spill some beans on it.

The Mountain is called Mount Porte Crayon. It is the second highest mountain in WV, just after Spruce Knob. You access the mountain via the Laneville Road to Dolly Sods just south of the Canaan Valley off of Route 32. Certain land rights near that mountain are privately owned by the same person who owns Winterplace. The title of the resort is "Almost Heaven," and it does indeed offer a steep, 2,000 foot vertical situated on a NW mountain face. I know because I've hiked the mountain with USGS maps. It's a bear-especially when you get lost as I did last Fall!!!! This summer, I plan to again hike it-this time with my new Garmin Summit GPS. I'll be sure to measure the verticals when I do.

Before everyone on DCSki gets too excited, allow me to explain some problems with the mountain.

Problem 1: There is no good access road to the mountain. The Laneville Road is 1 lane in sections and barely passable in the winter. It would need to be completely re-built to accommodate the traffic generated by the ski resort.

Problem 2: There is hardly any water. The Red Creek is the only water source and it almost runs dry by the time fall roles around.

Problem 3: Some of the land is federally owned by the National Forrest Service. Mount Porte Crayon and the Roaring Plains are one of the last great unspoiled pieces of wilderness area in the Mid-Atlantic, and the home of all sorts of rare plants and animals.

Any developer looking to build a resort there would have to seek permission from the Forrest Service-an action which would inevitably spark legal action from environmental groups. If you thought Vail's battles over the back bowls and blue sky basin were big, you ain't seen nothing yet. This piece of wilderness is right in DC's backyard, and every environmental group in the city will be involved if a lawsuit arises.

Personally, I think our best hope for better skiing in the Mid-Atlantic is to develop and improve what we have now. There's room for terrain expansion at both Timberline and Snowshoe. Let's fully develop those resorts first before we think about a new one.


johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
January 29, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Tom:

My sentiments exactly. The Dolly Sods/Flatrock Plains/Roaring Plains region offers some of the last great wilderness space in the Mid-Atlantic. I pretty passionate about preserving those areas and would probably join you in any protest.

I'm not against development per se in WV, but the state and the Federal Gvt. needs to be careful about preserving its natural resources. Without them, the state will not be able to attract four season tourists. The emphasis should be on improving and perhaps expanding existing resorts rather than building new ones. In this regard, Snowshoe offers the most promise.

BTW, just started reading a good book about this whole issue of environmentalism and the ski industry. It is called:

Powder Burn : Arson, Money, and Mystery on Vail Mountain by Daniel Glick.

I may write a short review of the book if I have time for DCSki. The issues in Vail are very similar to WV.

(Anonymous)
January 29, 2002
john- Thanks for the info. After mulling over many of your points- I must say that I agree. Smaller, less developed ski areas have a lot going for them. I would ski Alta over Park City any day- or Timberline over Snowshoe. The smaller areas have more character, are less crowded and expensive and are generally more relaxed. Change often means more crowds, and more expense- there are numerous examples of this happening- just look at any intrawest resort. If Timberline ever becomes like Snowshoe- that would be tragic. But if they installed one new lift- and slightly increased their snowmaking capacity- I think that would make Timberline a better mountain without changing much of its character.
MitchH
January 30, 2002
Member since 03/29/2004
41 posts
This prolonged spell I guess highlights the wisdom of Timberline's method of concentrating on opening one slope at a time with massive bases of snow. Although there may not have been alot of slopes to ski on early in the season, the slopes they have opened are in really good shape to last through this warm spell. And snow is in the forecast for the weekend, so there will probably be good powder skiing there this weekend!
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