Jim Kenney wrote an article for DCSki a couple years ago trying to answer the question "what is the toughest slope in the Mid-Atlantic?" He provides a good overview of some of the more challenging slopes around here. The article is at:
Cupp Run and Shay's Revenge, at West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain Resort, probably are the two slopes closest to a Colorado experience you'll find in the area. They both have a 1,500 foot vertical, and the lower part of Shay's Revenge is quite steep.
Ice is more common on the east coast, and the black diamonds that seem tame at some of the local resorts can become almost unskiable if they're icy.
Skiing here is really about a love of skiing, not a love of powder. However, you've found your best resource as most people here will give honest slope conditions and good ideas on where to go if you want to plan a day trip.
In the Mid Atlantic, we have some that are challenging. Besides Shays, try some of the ones at Blue Knob and you won't be disappointed.
Apart from that, Timberline in West Virginia has some good steeps-- Off the Wall and The Drop. Blue Knob, as has been mentioned, has some good trails as well; when they get natural snow the runs under the lift will keep you wiggling on tight slalom turns.
Another relatively hidden secret is Ski Denton about six hours north of here. It is way out of the way, underutilized, and home to a hard core MRG-type crowd. They claim their run Avalanche is the steepest on the East Coast. I don't think it is, but they've got some nice double fall lines and steep pitches, plus it's just a fun environment to be in up there (60 cent beers and 150 miles of snowmobile trails).
Mostly double blacks here compare favorably with a single black out in CO or UT. Look for ice, ungroomed, or narrow runs to spice things up. And keep a balanced perspective-- these aren't destination resorts around here. If you go for a weekend and aren't looking for a hidden Vail, you'll have a good time. Enjoy!
Long way to drive for 650 feet of vertical. For that amount of driving, the Catskills in New York becomes an attractive alternative.
Was in there before Christmas a few times... and it was ill.
THe mogules are the biggest around, its normally iced over and has the steepest pitch in the mid atlantic. The trail is a continuous 800 vertical and will challenge anyone .
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 01-19-2004).]
I noticed this morning (MLK Day) that it was all fenced off and marked extremely well, with only a small gap in the fence to squeeze through. Smart move. Make people really think about going down it. I saw quite a few walking back up and out of it today. Keep it well-managed so that nobody gets seriously hurt on it, and you're in good shape. But if they let it get out of control... I'll take my money elsewhere, because I don't want to see another 'Nightmare'.
Man, I'm going to build such a huge kicker in there next weekend, so big you'll be able to leap into next week. I guess ski patrol isn't going to stop me. So, anybody want to lend me a shovel?
Because of the steepness of the trail or the bumps?
Bumps just make it look that much more challenging.
I don't think I've ever seen anyone walking back out of a trail in 30+ years of skiing. I have seen several people slide 1000 feet to the bottom.
If you're a skier the worst thing you can do is take off your skis. Boots don't have much traction on ice and steeps. A friend of mine found out the hard way @ Alpine Meadows...
Is the top of OTW pretty tame? Most of the hairier stuff I've been down is pretty nasty at the top or the ugliness is visible from a lift. That tends to keep the crowds down.
If you like bumps, then you are in luck. Most of the challenge in the Mid-Atlantic derives from bumps, often a bit icy and irregularly shaped.
1) Extrovert, Blue Knob - most challenging trail in the Mid-Atlantic. Double fall-line with two intersecting cat-walks. If you are aggressive, you can catch 5-10 feet of air if you choose your line correctly.
2) Bold Decision, Whitetail. Not always bumped up but some nice terrain features to play with.
3) Ramrod/Gunbarrel, Roundtop. Short but steep headwall. Again, not always bumped up.
Blue Mountain and Montage in North Eastern PA have been recommended by friends as having some challenging bump runs. Bottom of Shay's Revenge @ Snowshoe is prolly good also. If it reopens next year, Wildcat Trail @ Laurel Mountain, PA sounds promising.
Ok, so it wasn't one of my prouder moments. As a kid I once walked back up from Gunbarrel, too. But the fact is, you've got to know your limits and if you traverse those limits you are begging for a lot of pain. There was a nice chute I could have skied down OB but a) I didn't know what was underneath the snow (any big rocks?) and b) my nerves were so rattled at that point I wouldn't have been able to make safe turns.
Generally as long as I can see the trail below me I'll ski it, but unfamiliar terrain with poor directions is a big NO (also a big NO for me is mandatory air). Especially out west, where hitting the wrong exit can get you stranded for a nice -5F night.
That said, Mary Jane has got sweet bumps!
But anyways, this morning as I made it through the very tiny entrance (they had it fenced up and marked as EXPERT to oblivion) there were two kids standing at the top and the father coming up behind them. Further down there was a lady walking the left side of the trail with her skis off, since the snow was pretty soft, and it wasn't a pure glissade to the bottom.
I did however coach a guy down it. Having skiing experience (and many years of it), I'm pretty good at getting people out of rough situations. Just gotta attack them, keep your shoulders in-line with the fall line, and let your knees/thighs work. Saw him later in the day on it, and he was tearing it up. Wasn't the first time I've talked somebody down something they're not ready for.
I too, have my own wimping out story. A few years back I hit The Drop in the afternoon, expecting it to have warmed up and melted out of its icy state. I got down the flatter part at the top, and started into the moguls, and they were solid ice. Got about 2-3 down the trail, found a patch of soft snow, stopped, took the board off, clawed my way back up it by lying on my stomach and pulling myself uphill with the board as I dug its edges into the ice. Hiked out, went down a different trail. I convinced about 8 others to do the same.
I guess I was surprised that this could be found on a marked trail in West Virginia. Cherry Bowl sounds like a much different story however ...
When you say OB, I *hope* you are refering to still being within the ski area boundaries, but off the marked trail. If you are leaving the patroled boundaries by yourself in unfamiliar turf, you're nutz man!
I've poked around different tree sections by myself within ski areas numerous times. However, from the lifts, I also study/memorize where cliff bands are; I don't want to find out what Roger found out.
Also, you guys have jogged my memory a bit. I twice poled uphill 20-30 feet at Whistler Mountain to go to another entry. Even though I was on a single black, I found myself facing a 15 foot cornice jump onto a flat hard-pack landing. I almost skied over it the first time since I thought it was just a steep section - couldn't believe a single black would have a cornice jump; fortunately I stopped @ the last second obeying big mountain rule #1: never ski the first time over a section without knowing what's on the other side.
And if you are a skier, never, ever take your skis off in gnarly terrain. Ski boots don't have edges.
Practice what you can expect to eventually find.
I'll be @ Timberline for the first time the first weekend of February (7-8). Backchannel me via Scott if you'll be there that weekend.
hopefully I'll be able to catch some turns with you at T-Line after that.
Oh, and if you're looking for a nice day of skiing, get up early and hit the slopes on Superbowl Sunday, stay a bit later than usual (maybe 4pm) and then head home. I guarentee no crowds and perfect conditions. Atleast that was the way it was last year, until I got stuck going 35mph on I-79 in a howling snowstorm and there was nobody out to follow...
Sometimes in order to get a good scout on a steep run you have to enter into it and take a look. Case in point: Parachute at Solitude or heading for OTW at Timberline. With Parachute, I skied high on the cat track so in the event that the run was more gnarly than I was expecting, I could hump it back to the main run without much effort. Turned out to have a fantastic pitch with good soft snow and some nice little chutes at the bottom you had to scout out first (from the summit lift) so you didn't misdirect over a cliff. 1000 vert at 40 degrees-- that's a leg burner for ya!
Am thinking about doing a weekend trip in Feb either to CV or Denton up in northern PA. I'll keep an eye on the weather and if it looks good, maybe I'll see y'all at T-line Feb 7-8.
And whoever posted about Superbowl weekend: SSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Don't spoil all the secrets around here!
From canaanman's description, I guess several people didn't pay attention to the signs.
UNFORTUNATELY it's just the one run... ;-(
Any opinions on Elk? I haven't been up there in a long time but it has a good rep for steep skiing.
Hey Kev, a bit of a tangent. What skis do you use out West and troubles do you have with deeper snow? (Brief thread hijack.)
Riding powder on a snowboard is better than anything else in the world.
KevR-- advice as far as I can give it: Powder is definitely a vertical motion event. Got to stay forward on your skis and use a LOT of vertical motion-- less so if you are on a fatter ski or board that will do the floating for you. There's no lazy turning like on the groomers. Try that and you will catch the upper edge of your ski and take a nice photogenic fall for the onlookers (at least on powder the falls are painless).
As far as trees and moguls go-- good luck on moguls with shaped skis. Ditto for chopped snow conditions (half powder, half packed). My sense from your description is that in moguls and glades you are probably leaning back up the hill without realizing it, or letting your hands drift behind you or not keeping your shoulders square down the hill, or not getting enough vertical motion, or any combination of these.
The first secret about skiing moguls and trees and stuff is to ski it the way *you* want to, not the way you think the trail is dictating you to ski it. The fact is if you're good enough to ski black diamonds in control you're good enough to ski technical terrain (eg forced turn runs); the key is building the confidence you need to keep the basic techniques in place and master them (you'd be surprised how much groomers will let you get away with. Moguls don't.). Thus start with back and forth turns in the glades and skiing over the moguls on the mogul fields. You will notice your confidence increase and naturally will want to progress back to the way you've been skiing-- parallel and downhill. In glades as you're swinging back and forth you'll be looking to connect your turns through openings, ruts, etc. Make sure you're linking the turns and you will develop an ability to read a contour in the trail which will enable you to ski them faster and more vertically.
Most importantly, be patient!!! Without lessons it took me five seasons to get comfortable skiing moguls and glades (and I'm still working at it). Use the lift ride to think through your previous run, work your turns going down 3-5 at a time followed by analyzing, then 4-6 then 8-10 then before you know it, the only reason you'll be stopping on Shadows at Steamboat is to catch your breath!
[This message has been edited by Roger Z (edited 01-20-2004).]
Only people who are lousy powder skiers!
>> Riding powder on a snowboard is better than anything else in the world.
I can think of several other things, and one or two of them involve snow.
I asked the question since I've heard numerous posters on this site complain that they can't ski the deep stuff out West. I was a bit curious as to whether equipment was the issue or maybe technique. Despite living on the East Coast, I'm a bit of an anomaly; I ski the deep stuff (powder or crud) better than I ski the hard pack.
Skis make a huge difference in the ease in which you handle the deep stuff. A shaped ski is not a shaped ski - the ski profile makes a big difference. Forget about the fat-boy powder skis and big mountain Alaska skis (Dynastar Inspired by Nobis would be an example of the latter) - not needed for most folks to ski and enjoy powder.
I'm still figuring out the performance envelope myself for the newer sidecuts. My own experience has been between the old school classic and the classic mid-fat. The biggest improvement in my deep snow skiing was when I got a pair of Volants about seven years ago. I've used them on every ski trip out West until last year when I blew them out in Taos. (Blue Knob glades have nothing on Taos.) The Volants had a radical sidecut when I first got them (107-72-95 by my own measurements) but that is a relatively conventional mid-fat by today's standards. I skied them in 193 cm length, so they had plenty of surface area for powder float. By comparison, I recently demoed some new mid-fats in soft stuff (but not deep) @ Jay Peak; Head i.M. 75 Chip SR (114-74-103) in 170 cm! I'm not certain if the 170's will have enough float/crud busting ability for me in the deeper stuff out West. (The Head 170's have the stability of most 180's on groomed runs.)
I've also skied some deeper stuff up to recently on classic boards (detuned vintage Saloman race skis 87-62-77 @ 200 cm). Man, they are so much more work than the mid-fats! Two of the days included the Tuesday of last year's blizzard at Whitetail and the day before I demoed the Volants @ Jay this past December. I experienced a lot of high-moisture cut-up stuff during both days. I thought my deep-snow skiing had improved a lot over the years, but those two days made me realize that my equipment made as much difference as my technique. If Roger is still skiing skis like that in pow, God Bless Him.
I recently bought a pair of Atomic SX:9's for short-turning play-around ski for the East. They may be as practical as a convertible, but they sure are fun on the groomed runs. The Atomics measure 106-65-97 @ 170 cm length. I'll be curious if they ski more like the Volant's in the heavy stuff, or more like the classic straight boards.
Lot's of today's "East Coast" skis have waists of ~67-68 cm, which puts them in between my Volants and straight boards. Their tip/tail dimensions are more like the Volants. They have a less radical profile than my Atomics.
I guess this was a ramble without any conclusions.
Some quick points about technique.
1) Most important rule is to make sure both skis pass by the same side of the tree!
1b) Make sure your upper body is on the same side of the tree as your legs. I violated this rule recently at Jay.
2) Look at the spaces between the trees, not the trees themselves.
3) Similar to skiing a race course, look 1-2 turns ahead. Keep the tree you are skiing by in your field of view; trees don't give like racing gates.
1) You'll turn quicker if you are centered on your skis. If you are centered on your skis, you can turn as quickly as you can step from foot to foot.
2) To increase turn tempo, increase the pace of your pole plants. As soon as you are in the power edging phase on one turn, start the next pole plant. Once your poles encounter resistance from the ground during the pole plant, punch that hand forward. If you don't, your hand will most likely be pushed behind your body, leaving you in the back seat.
1) Powder turns are the ultimate in pure carved turns. You can't skid your turns as you can on hard pack. Turn initiation with the pressure at the front of your skis is critical.
2) Depending upon your skis, you have to minimize side to side and front to back weight transfer (compared to groomed runs). In other woids, stay centered. On most modern skis, up-down motion is about the same as skiing the groomed. Classic straight boards is a much different story.
Roger is right about you dictating the turns versus the terrain dictating the turns. However, this is a more advanced technique and requires more energy, athleticism, and occasional getting some controlled air.
I've been skiing 30+ years, and I still work on these basics (and others). If I ever get them right...
Last year was the FIRST time I've encountered snow more than a few inches deep... and just for the one day. I was simply not prepared that it would be much different than the way I normally ski, so that might explain a few things. I suppose it isn't in some ways and is vastly different in others. So when I say I "can't" -- what I really mean is I didn't take to it like a fish out of water... which is an odd way of explaining it I suppose.
Trees/moguls -- well generally I don't think I sit back in my skis which is a sure sign I can't turn them at all and make them go where i want but I will think about this next time.
So again when I say I can't ski them or very well, what I mean is that I don't chain my turns together very well and I end up bagging out of a potential turn out the "side" of the line... then stopping, picking a new line and trying again... Moguls & trees are the same problem but really I am relatively new to this type of skiing too. I will say it seems to help to lead out with the inside ski... I do have a small tendency to take a step, or stem christie my way around a turn sometimes, especially when it is steep and tight, and this does not help, I've noticed because the turn is too sharp and then I over turn & miss my next turn.
Maybe its just practice.
Will let you know how it goes...
ALSO skis are K2 Axis about 170cm. I am 6'1", about 195. Possibly a longer ski would float more in powder, but I still think the basic technique is lacking on my part based on my observation of my fellow skiers on that day...
I'll try again this year I hope!!!
If I could get the basic technique then I might experiment with some others skis, maybe demo some skis or something while I was out there... otherwise, i think I'd be happy with a general ability to basically ski powder a few feet deep ...
Having said all that, I do enjoy carving too and without shaped skis where would we be there eh?
Anyway, I can say enough about the K2s I have, I had some vokls before this and I like the K2s better. I do keep meaning to ski some demos but never get around to it. I don't think it's the skis really that hurt me in my one venture into powder deeper than my ankles, well up to me knees. I think it was mostly technique or lack there off. As I said I have a tendency to stem chistie my turn - even with shaped skis. This means that I start parallel, but subtly lead out the turn with my outside edge. This creates a wedge in effect (although it is very slight) and my inside ski is still pointing in its original direction as the outside ski begins its turn. To correct for this, I LIFT my inside ski to bring it into parallel and finish my turn. This all happens in a fraction of a second. IN POWDER this is not good because my inside ski has load (force) on it from the side from the snow -- my (micro) wedge as i initiate the turn means I have to work to get my skis around in the powder and this feels unnatural & tiring... as I don't feel it all on groomed slopes.
Recently I have been working at leading the turn with the inside ski first. BUT we have are way off topic!
BUT I think keep avoiding the stem and going with the inside ski and opening up my turn will help in powder, is all I am getting at. TBD!
If the K2 Axis has a similar profile to the Axis X (107-70-97), they should be fine in most deeper snow conditions. But not the best type of ski.
Anyway, back to whatever the original topic was on this thread ...
(Everything should be considered ungroomed - there is no such thing as a diffcult groomed run.)
Lower Shays (Snowshoe) #1 - the only "legit" steeper slope in the mid atlantic - #1 no argument.
Upper Extrovert - (Blue Knob) #2 - Narrow, icy moguls, limited cover can make it a challenge.
East Wall Glades (Blue Knob) #3 - Rocks, stumps, rocks.
Upper Off the wall (Timberline) #4 - Longer sustained pitch than most, can be icy and with limited cover.
Cherry Glades (Timberline) #5 Should probably be disqualified due to being quasi OB.
Bold Decision (White Tail) #6 - When left alone, one of the few slopes with sustained bumps.
Devils Drop (Wisp) #7 - Very steep, trees, bumps and narrow. Too short for higher rating.
Lower pitch, Cupp Run (Snowshoe) #8 - Ya' gotta include Cupp somewhere, right? Not deserving except for the 1000 bodies always littered across it that must be avoided. Sort of like tree skiing but with larger liability issues.
Upper Eastwind (Liberty) #9 - If you can ski this well when the bumps are 5 ft tall and solid ice, you can ski anything.
The Face (Wisp) #10 - Fall line transition in the middle makes it much harder than expected and near vertical drops off the ungroomed mounds make it interesting. Rarely skiied elegantly.
OK - Fire away....
Some Honorable Mentions:
The Drop - (Timberline) Easy on me, TL crew...
Boomer - (Montage) Always getting groomed (sigh)
Gunner (Seven Springs) Gotta get'em on the list somewhere
Everything Down hill (Whitegrass) Skinny skiis required - 'nuf said.
[This message has been edited by tommo (edited 01-21-2004).]
[This message has been edited by tommo (edited 01-21-2004).]
For sheer steepness, I haven't seen anything around here that beats the upper stretch of Gunbarrel at Roundtop.
And then there is a run at Blue Knob that I have been forbidden from mentioning on a previous message board. It must remain anonymous or I'll be in trouble.
What's the deal at Wintergreen? Anything there deserve a listing?
As to 7Springs, I wasn't going to include anything, but that seemed unfair - Avalanche is probably better.
THen we could do something silly and suggest that to truly be a DCskier -- I mean to really be considered one of the "best"... You have to go down each of these things with some degree of aplomb... (but not much!) ANd kinda collect them ...
I suppose would could even have some sort of virtual contest -- I'm not sure what, and I'm not suggesting by any stretch that I would be even REMOTELY in the top-half of any such grouping (in fact, I'd be quite happy to be at the very end I think)...
No idea on that really, and I admit, it is rather silly... BUT SILLY CAN BE FUN!!!
Anybody? The list? A "true dcskier", a contest of some sort?
#1: Upper Shay's Revenge to Lower Cupp Run (Snowshoe)- Absolutely the best run on a snowboard. Flying down Upper Shays, into sometimes a soft mogul field, then cutting to Lower Cupp and taking on some moguls or cruising is the best. Uncontested #1.
#2: Cherry Bowl Glades (Timberline)-So, it's not a trail anymore, but it still gets skied-out. The powder is insanely fresh most of the time (when there's enough of it), its got great natural obstacles, and its very, very steep (at least as steep as Lower Shay's).
#3: Extrovert (Blue Knob)-About as rough as it gets. Not super long and steep like Shays and Cupp, but a heckuva challenge.
#4 tie)Upper Gunbarrel (Roundtop) & Off-The-Wall (Timberline)- Both have great pitch and good bumps on 'any given Sunday', and both are not steep for long before they flatten out.
#5: Devils Drop (Wisp): Great trail, very steep, but short-lived.
Runners-Up (in order):
Cupp Run (Snowshoe)
The Drop (Timberline)
Bold Decision (Whitetail)
The Face (Wisp)
Silver Streak (Timberline)
Gravity (Canaan Valley)
Some hidden glades at T-Line none of you know about w/ a run-out steeper than anywhere else (Timberline)
How about a DCSki True Adventure list:
1) Get stuck on a lift at Timberline for at least a half hour.
2) Get a base weld from skiing the glades in Blue Knob.
3) Ski Whitetail for an afternoon on any major holiday weekend.
4) Pass out under a table at the Foggy Goggle.
5) Tuck the last run at Wisp and see how close you can come to Deep Creek Lake. Bonus points if you actually get wet.
6) Accidentally leave your lift ticket in your condo at Snowshoe, ski a run to the bottom, and talk your way out of it.
7) Play golf and ski at Liberty on the same day. Double bonus points if it's during January.
8) Walk in front of a deer herd at Canaan Valley with an open bag of Doritos.
9) Ski Laurel Mountain this winter.
10) Drive up the access road in Blue Knob during a snow storm without a 4WD vehicle.
A potential virtual race would be to time yourself on each run and in the STATE (i.e. w/ bumps, ice, etc...) listed. Lowest cumulative total for complete runs, without injury or falling, puts you at the top... injury or fall is a DQ for that run. Obviously self policing is all we can do and that'll probably be ok...
Honorable mentioned to the tail gunner for trying!
I might go for that one myself! :-)
--- THE LIST ---
Lower Shays (Snowshoe)
Upper Extrovert - (Blue Knob)
East Wall Glades (Blue Knob)
Upper Off the wall (Timberline)
Cherry Glades (Timberline)
Bold Decision (White Tail) - bumps/steep
Devils Drop (Wisp) - steep/ungroomed/trees to one side
Lower pitch, Cupp Run (Snowshoe)
Upper Eastwind (Liberty)
The Face (Wisp) - bumps/steep
The Drop - (Timberline)
Boomer - (Montage)
Gunner (Seven Springs)
Everything Down hill (Whitegrass)
Upper Gunbarrel (Roundtop) - steep
Avalanche (7 Springs) - bumps
Upper Shay's Revenge to Lower Cupp Run (Snowshoe)-
Extrovert (Blue Knob)-
Cupp Run (Snowshoe)
Silver Streak (Timberline)
Gravity (Canaan Valley)
Honorable Mentions to ALL JOHNL's -- I like your style man, probably more my speed!
JohnL's list is definitely the tops. Apart from that, my apologies to SpringsRegular I meant Goosebumps, not Avalanche. Since we're naming trails that no longer technically exist at Timberline, why not add Wildcat from Laurel? If you want to go five hours plus I'd also throw in Avalanche, the Wall (perhaps steeper than Upper Gunbarrel and a shade longer), and the Chute at Ski Denton (and if the trail really does exist, Extreme as well); Denton might be small but it's down-to-earth atmosphere and surprisingly steep plunges can challenge anything Blue Knob can throw at it.
Also not to be forgotten for the sheer technical nature of the run should be Lower High Hopes and Lower Route 66 at Blue Knob. Not as steep as Extrovert but far narrower; doubly nasty when icy and doubly sweet when powdery.
NOW having said all that I think The Face is harder than Bold Decision both with bumps...
Anyone care to try a subjective comparitive rankings of runs for the mid-atlantic?
#9 -- The Face w/bumps (wisp)
#10 -- Bold Decision w/bumps (WT)
#11 -- Devil's Drop (wisp)
Sorry no other data...
Continuous skiing down the resorts most challenging run by groups of 2 or more. same day, same time...
winner takes all!!
Crazy things to do. Drive to Whitetail from Rich VA for Demo day ski till 3 in slush drive to Massanutten for night skiing and ski real packed powder with the top two slopes to yourself, drive back to Rich, Va.
Do a day trip to Snowshoe from Rich, VA ski all day with snow in the air... promptly leave at 5 to drive directly into the path of the 96 blizzard.
I haven't been to 'bird but I have been to jackson and I am slightly familiar with the route taken and have been down SOME of it but not all -- for example the jackson team went down the infamous Corbet's Couloir each time! Didn't touch that myself. Man that had to hurt at the end of the day!
So we could have our OWN vert challenge here!!!! ;-)
I never understood the attraction of the contests for obtaining the most vertical. To use an automobile analogy, the vert contests are the equivalent of "hop in a car and see how far away from DC you can get in 8 hours". Personally, I'd rather spend the 8 hours tooling around local country roads enjoying the ride.
I figure at Timberline one could get 25+ runs in day skiing if he/she went nonstop. Now, if you went ALL day (including night skiing) one could get 40+ nonstop. CamelBak+bagels+M&M's just might do the trick.