BLUE KNOB SOLD TO BRITISH COMPANY
October 8, 2004
Blue Knob has been sold to a British Co., Vacation Hotels of London England. They have no current plans for major improvements and hope to keep the atmosphere as a "skier's mountain'.
If the sale goes through, BIG news.
Related recent thread on BK:http://www.dcski.com/ubbthreads22/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=5672&page=2&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpart=1#5672
Quote from Mountain Masher on the previous thread:
According to an Altoona Mirror article that appeared on or about April 8, the owners of Blue Knob have hired a new manager. The new manager is from England and is to market BK to Europeans as well as look for someone to buy the resort. The current owners of BK (the Gauthiers, from the DC area) claim that about $50 million would have to be invested in the resort to make it competitive. And, although they claim to have had several competitive offers, they declined to sell BK, because the new owners wouldn't have had much capital to invest in BK after buying it. The Gauthiers said that they want to see BK prosper after selling it.
The new owners would most likely be doing some immediate base lodge / real estate infrastructure improvements. Wonder what just happened to the price of the BK condos?
I guess we can no longer call it "a day trip to the Knob." I guess we have to use the phrase "a one-day ski holiday to the hinterlands."
Amazing! I love Blue Knob. It's my favorite local lift served area. Extrovert is unique in the mid-Atlantic and there are many other great runs and glades that come into their own when there is abundant natural snow.
But, it's in the middle of nowhere, and a depressed sad looking nowhere at that. Why would anybody want to go there as a destination? I don't even understand why Brits go Killington, although they do in large numbers. If they have already flown across the Atlantic, why not keep going for a few more hours to the big mountains of the west?
This is an interesting development. Only time will tell if this owner is any different than the many with insufficient pocketbooks that have had a hand in BK over the years.
This is a little off topic, but since Denis brought up Brits at Killington...one time I talked with a Brit who was lodging in the same place as I near Sugarbush, VT. He had some family with him. I asked him why he ski vacationed in VT rather than American west? The answer was not so much for lower costs or less travel time, he was attracted to VT so that he could ski and then take his family to Boston for a few days of sight seeing before flying back to UK. The non-skiing portion of the trip was important for him and he felt a large eastern American city like Boston was more educational and interesting for his kids/family than, I guess, SLC or Denver.
Maybe with the new ownership at BK the Brits and other Euros will flock to a BK/DC ski & culture combo trip!?! Do you think they would come away with the impression that the rich and powerful of DC take their holidays in BK condos?
IF Blue Knob has been sold, then I would think that such an event would have been reported in the local PA papers by now. I guess time will tell. Also, I'm surprised that the (possible) new owner doesn't intend to put much money into the ski area. After all, according to the April article in the Altoona Mirror, the Gauthiers wanted to sell BK only to an outfit that was willing to invest tens of millions into the place. I would think that the new owners would at least finish the large snowmaking lake located above the tubing park. Also, without major improvements in the snowmaking system, BK is on borrowed time. And, what about those so-called "Glades"? Do the new owners intend to remove the many stumps, plies of logging waste and saplings? Are the new owners aware that the main ski slopes are in desperate need of re-seeding and water bars? BK is now in such bad shape that (without the aforementioned improvements) it would be very hard to make much money there. I was just up at BK today, and things looked pretty sad and abandoned; however, there was one major improvement, the condo road (also called Overland Pass) has been repaved from the bottom of the mountain up to the condo complex. It should be noted that the property owners association (known as Spruce Knob Association, SKA) paid for this, not the ski area. The road from the condos up to the summit-based ski lodge is still in terrible shape....in fact, the worst that I've ever seen it. Time will tell, but I still say that BK is a ski resort on it's last legs....unless someone has 50 million to invest.
JimK and MM,
I agree, only time will tell. It remains to be seen how reliable the info is on the sale (with all due respect to snowsmith), whether the sale is finalized, and how much money the new owners put into the place. We can only hope.
I'm not certain I agree with the oft-repeated $50 million figure, but certainly a lot of work is needed in the basic infrastructure (snow-making pond, access roads, lodge, accommodations, etc.) and in maintaining the trails and glades. A good ownership & management team would probably be able to receive a lot of pro-bono help in maintaining the glades & trails. There is some very, very interesting terrain at the Knob, and it's a shame to see how poorly it's been maintained the past few years.
Anyone know the possibilities of terrain expansion at the Knob? I know it borders some state park land ...
Why do people refer to the area as depressing? Are you talking about the ski area itself or the surrounding towns? While the immediate vicinity is not as scenic as West Virgina or Vermont, I think its a lot more attractive than Seven Springs. The infrastructure on the mountain could certainly use a good coat of paint ...
The sale was reported by Bill Clapper from OnTheSnow.com, which is a pretty reliable source. (See this page
.) However, I've been unable to find any contact information for London-based Vacation Hotels. (Just trying searching Google for "Vacation Hotels!") I'm sure we'll have more details by the upcoming winter season.
A significant part of Blue Knob ski area is situated on PA State Park land. The following aspects of the resort are entirely on State Park land: the ski lodge, maintenance building and parking lots (all, located at the summit); both of the (finished) snowmaking ponds; the tubing park; the beginners area and chairlift; and, the unloading areas of the other lifts. Also, the large 15 acre, (unfinished) 3rd snowmaking pond is entirely on State Park Land. The unfinished pond is located just above the tubing park and just below the beginners slope and second snowmaking pond. The large unfinished snowmaking pond (actually more like a lake) was clear-cut and bull-dozed almost 5 years ago. Since then, the owners of BK haven't done a single thing to finish the lake and PA State Parks failed to enforce a dead-line for it's completion for fear that this might lead to the closure of the ski area. Several things are noteworthy about this snowmaking lake: 1) A VERY large number of rare, 120 year-old altitude stunted oaks were taken down to create the lake. 2) The owners of BK didn't submit (to BK State Park) any drawings or specifications, or set aside any money for the lake. 3) The owners of BK and the State Park had NO idea as to where all the water will come from to create such a large, mountain-top lake. 4) NO environmental impact study was done, either before or after the clear-cutting was done for the lake. The reason why I know all of this is due to the fact that the PA Sierra Club has looked into environmental damage at BK extensively (including the failed lake on State Park land). Also, an editorial on the failed lake was printed in the Johnstown, PA Tribune Democrat (in addition to a couple of articles in PA Sierra Club, local chapter newsletters).
Many, if not most, ski areas don't have summit-based holding ponds (for snowmaking) for environmental reasons. In many cases, the summit of a ski area is located on State or Federal property and the construction of a summit-based pond is discouraged, if not prohibited. Blue Knob has 3 UNSIGHTLY summit-based snowmaking ponds (one unfinished) pocking the top of the second highest point in PA!!!!! This is unheard of!!! And the current owners of BK created 2 of the aforementioned ponds. Also, PA State Parks has allowed at least 2 other large clear-cuts near the summit of BK for things like widening the beginners slope and a failed attempt at creating a terrain park. Now, most of the trees are gone on the North side (ski slope side) of BK near the summit, which makes it very hard to keep a snow base down, given that BK often has high wind.
It should be noted that ALL of the land that Blue Knob State Park sets on was donated from the US Park Service to the Commonwealth of PA for the purpose of PRESERVATION and recreation, so long as recreation does NOT conflict with PRESERVATION. In allowing the owners of BK ski area to clear-cut and bulldoze massive areas on State Park land, the Commonwealth of PA has violated the conditions under which the land was donated (and deeded) from the Federal Government to PA. I might add that the timber removed was bid-out by PA and sold for a significant sum, which was (and is) generally against PA's own policies involving it's State Parks. Of course, most of this happened under the administration of Tom Ridge, not under the current Governor of PA.
What does all of this mean? It means that BK is considered by some environmentalists to be one of the most environmentally destructive ski areas in North America (if someone knows of a ski area that is MORE destructive than BK, please let me know). The destruction has also (in my opinion) hurt the skiing as well as the beauty of the mountain. And unfortunately, there has been an explosion in logging and mining activity within the areas surrounding BK, which is particularly bad, given that PA's environmental standards are lower than most states. Like I've said before, time will tell what will happen at BK, but there are a variety of factors that might tend to work against BK.
Well, Blue Knob is under new ownership now, so it seems things can only improve from here on. The local PA chapters of the Sierra Club might wish to contact the new owners to discuss these past issues and talk about ways things can move forward productively from here.
Environmental groups like the Sierra Club contacting the new owners of BK is certainly a good idea, but things are really complicated at this point. Because much of the environmental damage is on PA State Park property, the Commonwealth of PA has oversight. And IF the sale of BK goes through, there would no longer be anyone for them to hold accountable. Also, some of those within the PA Government, who allowed destructive environmental practices to take place at BK, were with the Ridge Administration and are now gone and therefore, probably can't be held accountable. Hopefully, the new owners of BK will be more concerned about the environment than the present owners of BK (I don't think that a ski area owner(s) could be less concerned about the environment than the current owners). But, much of the damage can't really be fixed (by man or nature) within our lifetimes. And, it would require a massive amount of capital to fix the damage that is repairable (by current means), which the new owners are unlikely to have. I only became fully aware of the of the extent to the environmental tragedy at BK after joining several Sierra Club surveys and hikes of BK Ski Area (and watershed below the ski slopes). Now that BK is more than likely to be sold, it is apparent to me that the current owners probably planned (all along) on removing the valuable timber as cheaply as possible (there was NO timber management plan or survey) and then selling BK resort (AFTER putting all of the timber profits in their pockets). It's JUST TOO big of a coincidence that the last of the logging was taking place last Fall (until the PA Soil Conservation District contacted the owners of BK Ski Area and told them to stop their logging contractor, because NO survey was done and the logging also appeared to be in violation of PA Erosion Control Law 102), and within several months BK ski area is reported as being sold! Unfortunately, due to all of the environmental damage, BK will never see it's full potential as a ski area. And much of the natural beauty, that many of us came to love at BK, is gone for the rest of our lives.....at the very least.
I have a little more of a positive outlook for BK..although the glades might be compromised you can't help but feel good about
A CHANGE! The ski area was always my fav growing up in the dc area..The only real mtn experience untill I discovered Timberline & canaan vly.The reason i picked WV over BK was the fact that WV looked more like the pics i saw in skiing mags..with snow covered spruce trees.But you can't overlook the terrain at BK..spruce it up over the years & the dc area will have a gem.Now that i have moved south my interest is in WV but i remember blue knob & i wish the mtn & the area skiers the best.
I agee that Blue Knob has never had the kind of alpine atmosphere and natural beauty of Canaan Valley and Timberline. However, BK "HAD" it's own charm amongst the old altitude-stunted hardwoods. Because BK (and the surrounding area) has never offered quite the alpine look of a few other ski resorts in the mid-atlantic, it was really important that what beauty BK HAD.....be preserved. In addition to compromising much of the natural beauty and atmoshere, the logging didn't improve the skiing; in fact, it made it far more difficult to keep a snow base down. And, as for the raw, unimproved logged areas, called the "Glades".....they aren't really safe to ski much of the time (due to stumps and logging waste) and have now grown-up into brush and saplings. Of course, genuine Glades are NOT created by logging. Glades are created by removing only the small trees and underbrush, which leaves the large trees and upper canopy intact. The logging at Blue Knob did what nearly all logging operations accomplish, more or less, it made the owners lots of money at the expense of the environment. But, having said all of this, I welcome change to the beleaguered Blue Knob. And, although I'm hopeful, my optimism is tempered by my knowledge of the extensive environmental damage at BK.
If the sale goes through, just remember that the new owners would not be able to correct the "sins of the past" overnite. It wouldn't be economically feasible. If the new owners would stop the logging and do incremental improvements, that's progress. Judge them by that standard.
While you are redesigning DCSki this summer, perhaps you could include functionality that would allow separate "environmentalist" and "snow sports" threads whenever the topic of Blue Knob comes up. Seems that every time BK is in the news and in the forum, a few people who are obviously passionate environmentalists pop up to attack the actions of current ownership. Nothing wrong with that, but its the same stuff every time: logging very bad, watershed damage extensive, glades unskiable, etc etc.
For those of us who want to discuss the skiing at BK, and currently the propsects for the skiing under new ownership, without the environmental angle overwhelming the discussion, couldn't we have a place to do so?
Norsk / Ryan
Regarding expansion potential: if memory serves me, I believe most of the land on both sides of the last few miles of the Blue Knob access road is within the BK State Park. If you are standing at the very base of the ski slopes there is a tremendous amount of mountain terrain off to the right of the existing ski area (and with as much or more vertical drop), including to the right and above the Jack Rabbit trail. I am pretty sure much of the higher part of this terrain is inside the state park. It seemed to me that the ski area always had pretty good "cooperation" from the state regarding improvements and projects on the state owned parkland and if the right someone came in with enough money expansions could get done. I always thought this mountainside to the right of Jack Rabbit offered the potential to double the size of the ski area. The mountains form a sort of natural horseshoe with the existing ski area on the left side and this undeveloped terrain on the right side (the creek on the edge of lower Mambo Alley divides the two and flows out the open end of the horseshoe). To the left of Stembogan, again looking up from the base, there may be more of a likelihood that some of this ridgeline is privately held, but I'm not sure. I believe the 9 hole golf course and some of the condos are located up and beyond Stembogan on this ridge?
This big unused mountaintop "lake" that MM talks about...is it on what used to be the far edge of the old beginners area? If so, wasn't most of that terrain already cleared of trees back in the 1960's? I think there used to be a short jbar lift along that far treeline not far from where the BK ski club bldg stands.
This is a truly hopeful development. Any improvements at BK are better than none. This resort has the potential to be the best close-in ski center in the Mid-Atlantic.
Personally, I think the new management should start by improving snowmaking. Snow is life for ski resorts in this region and without a high capacity system, a ski resort is not viable here or anywhere else on the East Coast (let alone the world).
My next focus would be on improving off-slope activities. BK does not necessarily need a village but it does need off-slope activities on the scale of Smuggler's Notch to attract destination skiers, whether they be from southern England or South Carolina. The focus should be on how to entertain children of all ages. Kids don't want to hang out in condos with their parents. They need safe activities where they can interact with peers: shopping, coffee shops, movies, a Yurt tent, whatever. Parents need a few more restaurants and watering holes to escape to as well.
The third phase of improvements should be on replacing aging lifts with high-speed ones.
Money to pay for these improvements will have to come from sales of second homes and most importantly skier services (tickets, rentals, food, beverages, lessons).
Regarding package tours from UK, at first I thought the idea was crazy. Why would someone want to fly 7 hours to DC/Baltimore/Philly to ski BK when they could get to the Alps in 2 hours by plane and 5 by high-speed train? Well, experts would not bother, but beginners looking for a place to learn to ski and also an opportunity to travel to the NEW WORLD might go for the idea. Under current exchange rates, travel to America is much cheaper than Europe even with the longer flights. A four-day midweek ski tour to BK combined with weekend trips to DC/Philly/Baltimore might be appealing to some, especially if the price is right. Remember, new skiers need to rent lots of equipments, and take multiple lessons-very costly in Europe but rather affordable at BK.
Also, American instruction is truly world-class-especially at the basic level. A lot of what I see in Europe is "follow the leader" kind of instruction, and not the hands on attention that American instructors give skiers. New UK skiers would much rather work with some our local instructors, who have the patience of saints, than some French or Austrian instructor struggling to convey a lesson in a foreign tongue. I have met some truly awesome Austrian and Swiss instructors but these people excel in teaching experts how to ski the dogleg of an icy couloir and not teaching newbies how to get down the bunny slope. Mid-Atlantic ski instructors set world standards for teaching never evers how to ski.
Finally, Mid-Atlantic resorts typically have better snowmaking than European resorts. Hence, we often have better skiing for Christmas than many Alps resorts. Christmas is the big ski holiday in the UK and I've spoken with many a Brit who has traveled to the Alps only to find no snow (especially for beginners). BK, with improved snowmaking, will practically be able to guarantee some skiing for the Christmas-New Years period-a big draw for European package tours.
My last thought is that with improved snowmaking and trail maintenance, BK will start drawing a lot of locals on weekends. A little in the way of improvements could see big returns in terms of skier numbers. The expert crowd here craves the terrain at BK but they do not want to ruin their skis skiing it. Better snowmaking and terrain maintenance will lure this crowd back to BK.
Keep in mind that I had not been to Blue Knob since 1975 and it was snowing the day I was there this past winter, However, I am puzzled by all the talk about environmental damage. I am very environmentally concious, but I did not observe the massive clear cutting and deforestation that several of you keep menttioning. In fact the mountain looked quite heavilly wooded. So I am not sure if I just missed the deforestation you observed or you are somewhat exaggerating the logging that was performed.
If you search the archives, you'll find a variety of different opinions on the extent of the logging activity. Some of the heavy logging was in OB sections and apparently has affected some favorite back-country routes.
My own conclusions from having skied BK (didn't go last year.)
- The glades at the Knob have been thinned out of trees more than other quality gladed areas. For instance, the marked glades at Timberline have many more trees than do the Blue Knob glades. In particular, East Wall Glades is pretty much a trail, not a glade. The Timberline "" glade has been heavily thinned out in sections, similar to the Blue Knob glades.
- The marked black or double black glades @ the Knob have by far the most amount of debris and small rocks of any marked or unmarked glade area I've ever skied. (I've skied hundreds of different tree shots.) IMHO, the rocky base is consistent with trees being skidded down a slope, digging up the earth. The debris is a function of very poor glade clean-up & maintenance. Rock skis only here; core shots and base welds are likely.
- The intermediate glades at Blue Knob have good cover, though they have been cleared of a lot of trees.
- The groomed trail most affected by erosion and poor trail clean-up is Stembogan. It also suffers from a lack of snowmaking. Stembogan is an intermediate trail, but it's trail conditions are often too hard for intermediates. Sections of Stembogan Bowl often have very poor cover. A capable skier can easily ski Stembogan avoiding all of the debris; many intermediates will have trouble avoiding the rocks, etc.
- I haven't noticed any significant coverage problems with any other groomed trail nor have I noticed any unsightly cleared areas from the slopes. The trails at Blue Knob can be very icy, but I find that type of ice easier to ski than the "scraped to the man-made permafrost" sections that you find in high-traffic areas at Whitetail, Liberty, Seven Springs, etc.
Regarding future slope expansion possibilities at Blue Knob: The woods along the left side (facing downhill) of Bunny Hop (now called "Jack Rabbit") are privately owned, with the exception of a small area near the top of the ridge, which is part of Blue Knob State Park. The area just downhill from the houses along Bunny Hop is owned by the logging contractor who did most of the logging for the current owners of BK. This area along Bunny Hop was logged 2 years ago. We used to ski those woods on the left side of Bunny Hop on a regular basis, it's called the "Blue Trail". Since the logging, I haven't seen anyone ski it; I tried to ski the Blue Trail last season but found myself stopping every 10 feet or so to step around large stumps and piles of logging waste. On the other hand (if I recall correctly), a poster on DCSki (last Winter) stated that the Blue Trail was great, so who knows. About 2/3 of the way down Bunny Hop, the woods (and ridge) to the left are owned by a guy from Philly, he is currently in the process of logging this land. If you look at the ridge, behind the loading area of the Triple Chairlift, you can see were some of the logging has already taken place. As far as future slope development goes, I see no reason why conventional ski slopes (about 700 vertical ft.) couldn't be cut along the aforementioned ridge, provided the land could be purchased. Granted, the logging has reduced the natural beauty somewhat, and some erosion control measures would be required.
As far as environmental talk on DCSki goes: it's kinda difficult NOT to mention the environment when discussing BK because 2/3 of the skiable acreage at BK is in the form of "Glades", which were created by a massive, for profit logging operation that DID NOT include any remediation or reclamation efforts. If the logging was NOT a part of the ski slopes or DID NOT involve a failed effort to create a snowmaking lake on public land, I could see why discussing the environment at BK might be considered not relavent to skiing. Remember, BK went from 18 to 35 trails via their logging operation. And, the Glades were "created" by the chainsaws in just one Summer! Also, it should be noted that the logging impacted the existing (conventional trails) at BK; this is because the large logs were usually skidded (dragged) down those trails, which tore up the grass and created large gashes. Again, this has often affected the skiing on the coventional slopes at BK, and is a CHANGING situation due to erosion caused by the recent HEAVY rains in central PA.
And, as far as continuing to discuss environmental issues at BK: As stated above, the logged areas are constantly changing due to erosion caused by rain, which affects the skiing. And, many of the glades have grown up into large saplings, which also affects the skiing. But, I agree that there is no need to keep restating the same problems over and over again, unless there are CHANGES in the condition of the ski slopes, or there is new information about the unfinished snowmaking lake. Hopefully, there will be some ski condition reports on the BK Glades this Winter.
Just a final clarification of what "Gladed" ski slopes are and how you create them: Gladed ski slopes are runs where a skier can ski through a forest because there is a lack of small trees and under-growth. Glades are created by LEAVING the large healthy trees standing and removing the small trees (about 6 inches in diameter or LESS) and underbrush. All that Glade creation requires is small teams of workers with hand saws and a few light chain saws. After the brush and small trees are cut, they are dragged out of the (soon to be) Glades and burned. Genuine Glade formation has minimal environmental impact. Also, because the large trees and upper-canopy are left intact, the area is still shaded in the Summer, which prevents (or greatly slows down) the growth of new saplings. Genuine Glades require minimal maintenance. This is how Gladed ski slopes are created, including when such slopes are on US Forest Service Land. I know, I used to work in the ski industry.
On the other hand, the "Glades" at Blue Knob are JUST the result of a heavy select-cut logging operation. In a select-cut logging operation, you do just the OPPOSITE of what you do in Glade formation. In a logging operation, the large healthy trees are removed, leaving LARGE STUMPS, piles of logging waste (often called "slash piles") and the smaller (less valuable) trees. Also, because the logs are skidded down the mountain, logging leaves large gashes and exposed rocks. And, when the upper canopy is gone (due to logging) there is an explosion in the growth of saplings, which has now occurred at BK. The logging contractor, who logged BK, had NO knowledge of Glade formation, he just knew how to spot the most valuable trees and take them down as cost effective as possible, which is basically what all loggers do. In summary: when you create glades, it actually COSTS you money and has a minimal impact on the environment; when you conduct a logging operation, you MAKE money and it has a negative impact on the environment. [Of course, if a logging operation has a timber management plan, the negative impact to the environment can be greatly reduced; the logging operation at BK did NOT have a timber management plan. Things like timber management plans and remediation efforts can really eat into your profit margin.] Frankly, I just don't see how anyone can call the logged areas at BK "Gladed" ski slopes.
Thanks for the informative post. It's very clear that glades just don't happen, they are the result of care and planning.
Can someone compare the situation at BK with the situation at tline? Didn't something similar happen to the Cherry Bowl, i.e. a logging operation causing damage. I get the impression from some posts around here that the Cherry Bowl is still skiable, at least compared to the BK glades. Is that true, and if so, is it because CB was already an actual gladed run before the logging?
I agree with your last post except for the ending sentence.
Frankly, I just don't see how anyone can call the logged areas at BK "Gladed" ski slopes.
You are starting to split hairs at that point. The term glade is a pretty generic term in the ski industry with a different meaning for a variety of different skiers. Best to let that part of your argument fade. One counter example that quickly comes to mind is Doc Dempsey's Glades at Smuggler's Notch, one of the very first ski areas to officially have all terrain within it's boundaries open to skiers. They take their tree skiing pretty seriously in Vermont.
Cherry Bowl is no longer on the trails maps at Timberline. If you ski it, you risk losing your pass. You can ski the marked glades at Blue Knob when they are open. They have access control ropes at their main entrances; the ropes are up when the trail is closed.
Timberline gets a lot more snow than Blue Knob. This greatly helps coverage. However, I've skied Blue Knob after two foot dumps during a good snow year and was amazed at how rocky the base was.
There is a lot of debris in Cherry Bowl but overall the base is much better in the skiable lines. Warning: if you can't ski Off the Wall with ease and are not an experienced and cautious tree skier, don't even think about it. You could do some damage to yourself, much less to your skis.
John, I simply fail to see how I'm "splitting hairs" about glades (as you contend), when the difference between properly formed glades and a commercial logging operation is so great! The results of a commerical logging operation (without any reclamation efforts) doesn't even remotely resemble a gladed ski run. A close friend of mine was the US Forest Service official who had oversight over all ski slope activity within a specific Western State (when such activity was on USFS land). As you might know, MANY of the ski slopes in some of our Western States are on USFS land. Through him, I learned about Glade formation and the difference between Glade formation and for-profit logging, which, as stated above, is large. Also, I've skied the "Glades" at BK and other, properly formed Glades; believe me, there's a BIG difference! But, having said all of this, I agree that the ski industry throws around the word "glades" quite loosely; BK being a prime example of this.
As far as the Cherry Bowl/Glades at Timberline go: It's clear to me that the area was recently logged for profit, although the logger attempted to remove the timber in a careful fashion. Of course, the logging didn't improve the skiing; but, at least it's still skiable. The logging at Timberline doesn't really surprise me; I've met the couple who own the place (or so I was told) and they probably aren't super-rich. So, the logging likely provided them with some much needed cash, given that Timberline is currently sort of a mom & pop operation. I can only hope that there isn't anymore logging at Timberline.....proper Glade formation yes....logging NO!
Step off your soapbox and reread my post. Carefully. I didn't say there wasn't a difference between trails labeled as "glades."
John, I now understand what you're saying. That is, how the word "Glade" is now used to describe many different types of ski slopes.
Unfortunately, the word Glade is now sometimes used as "cover" for for-profit logging operations when the logging is on or near ski area land. After all, it wouldn't sound too good if a ski area manager or owner stated that they logged an area because they sold the timber to make some money; on the other hand, if they said that they had expanded their skiable terrain by creating some "Glades", it's sounds much nicer. So Glade(s) is sometimes a good PR term. For example (to my knowledge), the management and owners of BK have never used the word logging (either in writing or out loud) to describe the massive tree removal operation at BK, only the word Glade(s) has been used.
I personaly dont see the problem with the blue knob glades. The tree cover there is still very thick. I could see no difference between the tops of the trees .No light seems to get down to the snow though the trees and with the way the mountain faces they appear to hold snow very well i was there last year after a week of forty degree weather so when i saw that all the glades were open I expected it was going to be with something like 4-6 inces of snow but much to my delight there ws a good 12-18 inches on them. they didnt seam any more rocky or stumpy then other glades i have skied actual some of the glades at seven springs are much worse then the glades at blue knob i have done a lot of damage to my skies going down the glades at seven springs off the turtleneck trail. besides if you are going into the trees you should expect to run over small things like that. if i know there is a chance i am going to go tree skiing I always at least bring my beater skis with me(5 bucks at the garage sale who cares what happens to them
Been a few days since I've looked at the forum and seems I missed some big news. However, I am skeptical about this sale. If the Gauthiers have been reluctant to sell in the past because the new owners wouldn't have enough money for expansion and upkeep, that just tells me they are still trying to bleed as much money out of BK as they can.
If a British company bought it, that's a huge investment to improve BK to attract people to come stay on holidays.
As far as real estate, I searched the web and didn't find any cheap condos or houses. If memory serves (and it's very early in the morning and the coffee is not digested yet), the prices did not differ that much from other Mid-Atlantic resorts. Especially considering the amenities at BK.
And yes, we can discuss Blue Know skiing without discussing the environmental issues. When we talk about other resorts, we don't talk about how nature, cutting of trees, sewage, etc. affects the powder, ski slope, number of skiers, type of runs, or lift lines. The environmental issues are important. But I'm not reading anything new.
And one thing I like about BK (and it is my favorite Mid-Atlantic resort and in my top 5 I've ever skied), there's nothing around it, the "lodge" is a hole in the wall, and it's got some of the toughest terrain. As far as my ski experience, it doesn't need improvement. I don't need the diamond in the rough. I'll ski the piece of coal and be happy with what I have.
In places like Timberline (WV) or New England you can safely go into most skiable tree areas with brand new skis and not worry about damage. Beater skis not required. Seven Springs is not exactly known for having stellar tree skiing. (I know there will be a Seven Springs regular who'll call me on that one, but I call 'em as I see 'em.)
I agree that it's very risky right now to buy real estate at Blue Knob expecting that the sale will go through and that the new owners will put a lot of money into the place. Plus I'm sure the asking price of existing condos has gone up with the possibility of a sale.
I like the fact that Blue Knob has few crowds and challenging terrain. I have a blast on Extrovert and the natural snow trails. My main complaint with the skiing there is the shape of their glades - I've been warned numerous times by ski patrol to use rock skis. (I've found the warnings to be understated.) Compared to other labeled glade areas, Blue Knob's are a very shabby product.
Given exchange rates, BK is probably a pretty good deal for a UK-based company. Also, Brits are into buying vacation properties these days--even in unremarkable places. In other words, they may be looking at this thing from a completely different perspective.
Has anyone been able to find a web site for this company?
PS You are one of those outstanding teachers that newbies from the UK will enjoy learning to ski from.
johnfmh, some of the most fun classes I had this past year were with Brits. Liberty and the British embassy had some deal and sold the embassy discounted passes with lessons and I had quite a few in my classes. There were a couple of older ladies (in their 50's I would guess) that started this past year and I had them for their beginner lesson on up to their level 3. Then one instructor got them after that and pushed them too hard and scared them a bit. I gave them a freebie after that just to try and bring their confidence back.
Point being, the Brits do like to ski and I can see where they might buy at Blue Knob. Their access to skiing in Britain is limited and they must travel to get there. And buying property in Europe on the slopes is probably not as available as in the states.
As far as glades go at BK, for all the logging and enviromental issues, these things have not discouraged me from skiing anything at BK (glades or whatever). I love Jackson Hole because of all the different challenging terrain available. I've skied through (and over) rocks in the glades. Around the stumps and fallen tree limbs. While this is dangerous, it is also part of the thrill. I get bored skiing groomed slopes all day.
Skiing should be an adventure. To some people, the groomed slopes are an adventure. To each his own. I like the variable challenges at the Knob. I've skied extrovert with VW Bug-sized bumps that were sheer ice. I skied 66 when there was barely enough snow for a turn. I skied under the rope in the glades when it was really scarry.
While I support the enviromentalists for pointing out some of the stupid things that happened at the Knob, it has never hurt my skiing there. That's where I get my adventure kicks. If you don't like the glades and all the other issues, don't go. No one is forcing you to ski it. Adn that way, your one less obstacle for me to ski around in the glades.
Roy, even if we forget about the environment, the problem at Blue Knob is that the "Glades" were NOT properly formed. And, this impacts the skiing in the following ways: 1) The glades are loaded with large stumps, piles of logging waste, and exposed earth and rocks (due to the logs being skidded down the mountain). 2) The glades are getting LESS skiable over time, this is because large saplings are growing up around and near each of the (thousands of) large stumps (this is nature's way of trying to repair itself when logging has occurred). And, because of the exposed rocks and earth (that were a result of the "creation" of the glades), a considerable amount of erosion has occurred (and is likely to continue to occur in the future, whenever BK gets hit by a hard rain). At this point, approximately 2/3 of the Glades at BK are no longer skiable due to the reasons mentioned above. One of the best examples of a glade that is NO longer skiable at BK is the "Mine Shaft Glade"; you can easily see this area by looking to the right (up-hill side) while skiing the Run-Out just after you pass Deer Run. The Glade is now filled with dense, 15-foot high saplings and is impossible to ski. I have repeatedly asked anyone (who thinks that areas like this at BK are still skiable) to please post some recent pictures; so far no one has. The sad part about all of this is that BK HAD some of the best tree skiing south of Vermont BEFORE the Glades were created. Perhaps clearing out a little bit of the undergrowth here and there would have improved the quality of the tree skiing (which, is what you do in PROPER glade formation); but a massive logging operation? NO, it didn't improve the tree skiing at Blue Knob!
2/3 of the Glades at BK are no longer skiable due to the reasons mentioned above. One of the best examples of a glade that is NO longer skiable at BK is the "Mine Shaft Glade" ... The Glade is now filled with dense, 15-foot high saplings and is impossible to ski.
I am going to have to disagree with you on the fact that 2/3 of the glades at BK are not skiable for the simple fact that i skied all of them except the ditch grades last year and i had no problem with them sure there may be some rocks and stumps in the glades but i think that is part of what is exciting about them if i wanted a perfect surface i would stick to the snow making trails. I go to the glades for the chalenges and difficultes that you cant find on normal slopes. To me that is what glade sking is all about. Regarding the pictures of them I know for a fact i took some last year when i was there i just havent been able to locate them yet but as soon as i do find them i will post them here
Shearer, two things: 2/3 of the Glades at BK are so filled with stumps and debris that they are not skiable for the vast majority of the skiing public (so, perhaps I should have qualified my statement). The Glades are nearly always closed on the weekends; the Ski Patrol has to close them because they are often found to be unsafe.
And, as far as the Mine Shaft Glades go, I haven't seen anyone ski them in 2 years. The saplings are now so thick that it's hard to walk through them, much less ski through them. So, bring your pictures (from LAST SEASON) on! I really would like to see them. And good luck with your future glade skiing at Blue Knob.
I'll reiterate what I and shearer said. Skiing the glades is part of the challenge and that is what I'm looking for. Any black groomed run (even out west) is not really a challenge. The challenge is skiing the mountain regardless of what is there. If you can't ski it, take your skis off and walk out.
I agree that the logging hurts the long term health of the mountain. The point is (and was said earlier by others) that any post about Blue Knob turns into an enviromental outcry and does not talk about skiing. There are many people who love Blue Knob but we begin to talk about skiing and the post winds up going the other way. I don't want to ignore the enviromental issues but the how and why of skiing the mountain doesn't get discussed because the post turns into enviromental issues only.
I was skiing Jackson Hole this past year and we had sunshine everyday. By the afternoon, the snow became soft but never turned to mush. It was beautiful bluebird days. My friend I skied with kept complaining that the snow was too soft and he wanted powder and the ski days weren't that good. I told him to shut up and ski. Be happy your skiing because there are some that can't because of health reasons. I have a friend and have read about those that can't because of health and it kills them every winter to think about it. I'm happy for what I have and make the most out of everyday I'm on the slopes.
I'll fight the fight for the enviromental issues. But when I'm skiing or reminiscing or dreaming about it, don't ruin my mood. Don't kill my dream. There's a lot wrong with this world and I can't think about it every minute of the day. We have to have some time to think about the good things or we would all become lethargic and have nothing to live for. Don't kill every Blue Knob thread with the same issue. Let us talk about how we skied over that stump and rock. That's part of my fun. If you're scared for your skis, don't talk 'em in there. If you have old skis and have never taken a chunk out of them, your not treating them right.
BTW, am I spelling "enviromental" right? Where's that dictionary when you need it.
I told him to shut up and ski.
LOL, Tell em Roy.
Just in terms of SKIABILITY (NOT the environment), I'd like to see what you-all think about the QUALITY of the skiing in the Glades at Blue Knob this coming season. It's MY contention that the quality of the skiing will be WORSE (for a variety of reasons involving how the glades were formed and the HEAVY rains that Central PA has received (so far) this Summer). Anyway, it's going to be "interesting" to say the least.....
Good point Roy
there are a lot of people who dont get a chance to ski ever. be it for health reasons of location or the cost of the sport. Every time i find my on the slopes i know i am getting to do what i love, and no mater what the slopes are like or the snow or whatever it is I am out there having a good time and thats all that matters to me. I know i am one of the lucky ones because being in college with no car the only way for me to get around is by buses. Lucky for me Penn state provides a bus route that happens to go to tussey mountain sure it is a little dinky resort with nothing steeper then a blue but i get to ski and that is what matters most. on top of that i get to ski for 10 bucks for the night session it cant be beat. So whenever you get the opertunity to go sking be it blue knob or vail I say dont worry about a few trees or bad snow enjoy the fact that at that moment you are doing what millions of people wish they could be doing
shearer I was a Ski Instructor with a guy names Ed that left after the holidays to go back to Penn State. Can't remember his last name though but he was a good skier and was my ski partner between lessons quite a bit.
Masher I didn't get to ski the glades last year because I was instructing at Liberty full time. Didn't leave too many days to take off to other mountains (not that I'm complaining). If they did get a lot of rain and erosion, I think it would only make the drop in steeper, except for maybe mine shaft glades which may get even tougher. If I remember correctly, it also had some mini ledges (about 2-3 feet or so) that I jumped over. If some of the soil washes below that, that could get a little scary. I think I'm getting excited about it already.
Man it's too hot. I'm ready for SNOW!!!!!
Scott: a couple of corrections to Bill Clapper's article on Blue Knob in OnTheSnow.com. First of all, the summit elevation of Blue Knob is 3,146 feet, NOT 3,172 feet as reported by Bill Clapper. To quote the latest Blue Knob State Park brochure: "Blue Knob is the second highest point of land in the state at 3,146 feet above sea level" Second, for many years the maximum vertical of the lift serviced ski slopes at BK was listed as being 1,052 feet, NOT 1,072 feet. For some reason, BK ski resort CHANGED their vertical data about 5 years ago. I informed BK State Park about this and they agreed that BK was providing incorrect mountain height information. The head of PA State Parks also wrote me a letter, which indicated that they would encourage the owners of BK to provide the correct information. Well, it looks like BK management is STILL providing incorrect information.
As far as the sale of BK goes, I find it a bit strange that the sale can't be completed until November 04. If the new owners take over in Nov., they won't really have any time to prepare for the coming ski season. So they will be starting their FIRST ski season totally unprepared and "flat footed"; one would think that they would make every effort to complete the sale by September at the latest. One thing's for sure, I don't currently see ANY off-season improvements at BK (other than repaving the Condo Road, which was paid for by the property owners association).
This is a great site and I am glad that I found ot. The information that one can find here is a tremendous help. I could spend hours in these froums reading all the posts. There is a wealth of information and real sense of community here. I hope that this site will continue on indefinately. Some of my favorite forums are, general discussion, archives and faq. I also belong to another forum that provides a lot valuable inofrmation and a strong sense of community with a lot of resposible members.http://www.authentic-strivectin.com
The above post is SPAM. Nothing to do with skiing.
I noticed that too. I sent a notification to the moderator, I assume that's Scott. That kind of stuff ticks me off! It wastes the board resources and the time of the members
Just to update the reported sale of Blue Knob ski area: On Aug. 3rd 2004, I spoke with the PA Dept. of State Parks Regional manager (who manages the region that Blue Knob State Park falls within). And, I was told that the current owners of BK ski area HAD NOT informed PA Dept. of State Parks of a pending sale (or even of a potential sale) applicable to the ski area. This is significant because a NEW lease agreement (between PA Dept. of State Parks and the new owner of BK ski area) would need to be drawn-up and approved, given that a significant portion of BK ski area is located on PA State Park land. I was also told that it would take several months for such an agreement to be completed. So, it would seem that, if the new owner of BK intends take control of the ski area by Nov., 2004 (as reported in OnTheSnow.com), PA Dept. of Parks would have been informed of the sale by now.
My best guess is that there is NO sale of BK! In MY OPINION, the current owners of BK have never been particularly truthful about anything, whether it be, BK's ski reports, or a plan to build a new lodge at the bottom of the mountain (that was never built, of course).
It now appears that there is NO SALE of BK! Either the sale fell through or there never was a sale in the first place. At least that's what I've been hearing these days in Central PA. If the current owners of BK are unable to sell the ski area (which appears to be the case), I have to wonder how much longer BK will stay in business and who will repair the environmental damage that's likely to remain.
John and Warren, that post is like email spam. This board has been hit with the same wording at least 5 times, which actually isn't bad considering how much SPAM we get in our email (and yes Hormel it deserves to be named after your meat product).
Ok sorry for getting off subject. Back to Blue Knob.
With the sale not going through, I propose a grass roots effort to buy Blue Knob as a community mountain, sell shares (or however these small community owned mountain do it) and have an aggressive takeover from the current owners. They don't deserve to own such a prime piece of ski mountain. Who's with me. I have a dollar to start off with and I'll start collecting change I find on the ground. Boy I wish I could hit the lottery.
Count me in for $10
Seriously though, I would definately invest in that and show up to help with repairs and all.
Why don't we achieve economies of scale...we'll purchase Blue Knob and Laurel Mountain. Two of the best 'skier's mountains' in the Mid-Atlantic. You can have a recipricol lift ticket and ski at either mountain. They are only about 1/2 hour apart.
If I had a few $million$, I'd buy Blue Knob, Laurel Mountain AND Timberline( another sorry story) and give them the attention they deserve. I would have my own Mid-Atlantic ski empire. And I'll let the rest of you ski there too.
Sorry to hear the sale fell through. I got my information from the guy who reports on the Mid-Atlantic region for OnTheSnow.com. I'm still praying that Laurel Mountain finds a new owner.
Let's see if this sale does or doesn't go through. I certainly haven't gone rushing out to buy a Blue Knob condo.
New ownership would be a start in the right direction...
If I had a few $million lying around, I'd first buy a Greek Island, then a mountain in Colorado, and if I had any bucks left over I'd consider buying the Knob, Laurel or T-Line.
Granted, it's just my opinion, but I don't think that Blue Knob would be a good investment for ANYONE. This is because a very large amount of capital would be needed just to make BK marginally competitive (unfortunately, the huge logging operation and years of neglect have really taken their toll). And, what potential investors must ask themselves is this....what kind of return will they get on their money? I simply don't think that a new owner could make much money running "Blue Knob All Seasons Resort", given the highly competitive Ski Resort industry in the Mid-Atlantic.
Just want to chime in here and point out that whether or not a sale of Blue Knob is pending (or has fallen through) is complete conjecture at this point. The original report was published by Craig Altschul, an Editor at AMI News/OnTheSnow.com. Craig is pretty reliable in his reporting, and I have not seen him provide any updates. I did not see the news reported in any other outlet, and to my knowledge, the current owners of Blue Knob have never publicly said that they are searching for a buyer.
Also note that when two companies discuss possible sales or mergers, they normally do it in private and don't make an official announcement until they've both signed off on the deal.
You haven't seen any recent news articles posted on DCSki about Blue Knob because we haven't received confirmation that the resort is for sale, that a sale is pending, or that a possible sale has fallen through. So I wouldn't jump to any conclusions.
(Now, Laurel Mountain is looking for investors, so if you all want to chip in there is a chance you could help finance the return of Laurel Mountain.
Scott, the current owners of Blue Knob have stated to the Altoona, PA Mirror Newspaper and WTAJ TV 10 (a CBS affiliate, also located in Altoona) that they have hired a new manager (who is from England). The new manager (in addition to running the ski area) is also going to try to find a buyer for Blue Knob (according to the current owners of BK). There was an extensive article on this in the Altoona Mirror last Spring as well as a report on WTAJ TV 10. Of course, the aforementioned information is from last Spring, so things might have changed since then; however, PA State Parks currently has no knowledge of a sale involving BK.
The latest on the sale of Blue Knob (according to an article in the Altoona Mirror that appeared 2 weeks ago) is that the sale is dependent on some South African investors that the British Hotel/Resort company has lined up. The new manager (from England) hopes to bring the South African investors to Blue Knob for a look by the end of September, 2004. If the sale falls through, the current owners stated to the Altoona Mirror that the ski area will operate as usual this season.
On another note, the heavy rains from Hurricane Frances did major flooding and erosion damage to homes, property and roads (one road is currently closed) within the villages of Ski Gap and Bulls Creek, located just downstream from the ski slopes of BK. What's unknown is how much damage (if any) was done to the ski slopes and infastructure of BK.
This from an OnTheSnow.com email I received today...
New Blue Knob Owners Stand Pat
Blue Knob All Seasons Resort, in Claysburg, Pa., will soon have new owners. Vacation Hotels, of London, is currently managing and in the process of buying the resort. Representatives of Vacation Hotels expect the transaction to be completed by November. Current managers insist the character of the resort will remain, but declined to reveal a purchase price or elaborate on any possible improvements, upgrades or changes that might occur. Click here
If this is true then this is truly some great news for Blue Knob. The reason I say if this is true is because of what occurred with Laurel Mountain last season. So until the sale is final nothing is for certain. In the meantime all we can do is remain cautiously optimistic. If the new company does nothing but be more aggressive with snowmaking and grooming I will be very happy this year. What a great week this could be though, Blue Knob sold today and Laurel going to action tomorrow. I can already see the great days of skiing coming up.
I have been DYING to go to Blue Knob for years! I hope it'll be even better now.
News Flash! Blue Knob was featured on the evening news of Johnstown, PA TV station WJAC, TV 6 on Sept. 16. The story ran at 5:00 PM, 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM, also the aforementioned story was featured on WJAC TV 6 early morning news on Sept. 17. The WJAC reporter was Natasha McBroom. The subject of the story was the extensive flooding damage to the stream (South Poplar Run), homes and road located just below (about 1 mile downstream from the bottom of the chairlifts) BK ski area. The heavy rain was the result of Hurricane Frances and the damage was the most extensive ever seen in this area. Even the entrance to the BK "Condo Road" (Overland Pass Rd.) was covered with 4 feet of rock, boulders and silt (before a huge earthmover was able to open the road back up). The actual damage was shown on TV with the reporter there. Part of the road (Left Hand Gap Rd., where the houses are located) and a bridge were also taken out. An environmentalist associated with the Sierra Club was interviewed by Natasha, and he stated that, "the area was a ticking time-bomb" because the logging operation that was conducted by the ski area did not comply with PA's environmental/erosion control laws. A long time resident who suffered some of the worst damage also pointed out that the area had weathered several heavier rains over the past 30 years (PRIOR to the logging) with little or no damage. The resident then stated that he also believed that the logging was the cause of the damage. Furthermore, the environmentalist pointed out that an official with the regional office of PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) had been out to look at the Blue Knob logging site (at the urging of the Sierra Club) as recently as 18 months prior, and decided to do nothing despite being warned by environmentalists that there was grave flooding danger (should a significant rain occur) given that many of the logging "skid" trails and newer ski slopes were cut vertically down the mountain without any run-off/erosion control measures such as waterbars.
On Friday, Sept. 17, I talked with one of the local Blair Co. PA Township supervisors, a WJAC TV reporter and called the PA DEP office in Harrisburg. And, I was able to find out that Blue Knob Recreation, Inc. (the owner of BK Ski Area) is currently under investigation by DEP for possible environmental crimes, also PA Dept. of State Parks is investigating this matter. I have to wonder how all of this might affect the sale of BK, and what the future really holds for Blue Knob.
A VERY SAD ending to the erosion/flooding story at Blue Knob: Just 2 days after an environmentalist called the logged area on and below Blue Knob Ski Area "a ticking time bomb" (during an on-site interview with WJAC TV 6 News), 2.5 inches of rain came and 2 1/2 year old Hunter Delasko was swept away and killed by the fast moving waters of South Poplar Run on Sept. 18. The location where Hunter was swept away was only 1/3 of a mile from the entrance (Condo Rd. entrance) to Blue Knob All Seasons Resort. The toddler's body was found 2 days later, approximately 1/2 mile downstream from where he was swept away. South Poplar Run is the stream that flows from the Chair-lift loading/Run-out area of Blue Knob Ski Area. According to many of the residents who live along South Poplar Run below Blue Knob Ski Area, high water (after a rainfall) seems to be occurring more often; the logging upstream was cited as a likely factor.