Terrain
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Freeskier112389
October 14, 2004
Member since 10/7/2004
14 posts
i was just wondering if you could tell me some of the most challenging runs in the mid-atlantic?? maybe some of the best bump runs? Also someone told me about off the wall at timberline is that a challenging run?
Murphy
October 14, 2004
Member since 09/13/2004
618 posts
I don't have much ground to stand on when discussing advance terrain but this picture has always impressed me:

http://www.skinc.com/photos/Photos_best061.htm
shearer519
October 15, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004
149 posts
The two most challenging runs I have seen in the mid-atlantic are Extrovert at Blue Knob and Lower Wildcat at Laurel Mountain. I havent skied many other places yet but I am sure the other memebers here will add to the list
wgo
October 15, 2004
Member since 02/10/2004
1,262 posts
How about Off the Wall at tline?
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wgo
October 15, 2004
Member since 02/10/2004
1,262 posts
oh sorry freeskier, didn't see you had actually mentioned Off The Wall. Yeah, it's pretty challenging and fairly steep. Not really a mogul run per se, though.

I think there was a lengthy thread last season discussing the toughest mid atlantic slopes, if you want to try your luck in the archives
jimmy
October 15, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004
2,650 posts
http://www.dcski.com/faq/view_faq.php?faq_id=8&mode=headlines

Here's the info you need, brought to you by the Power of DCSki.
Roger Z
October 15, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Thanks for the link... just read that article for the first time. Bold Decision is given greater consideration than Devil's Drop at Wisp? No way. It's a shame that Blue Knob isn't run better and they didn't build their glades with consideration for skiing benefit, because if they had some thoughtful management, they would win hands down as the most challenging ski hill in the area. The breadth and depth of the technical aspects of their terrain is unparalleled south of Vermont.

I'll put in my annual plug for Ski Denton, which is way out the middle of nowhere. Smallish hill, but the hidden beast of Pennsylvania. If you get bored with the terrain for some reason, befriend a local and let them take you into the backcountry. They're in the serious snow country of north central PA and average something like 100-120 inches of snow a winter. Not only is that good for PA, but because they're up along the NY border the weather is on average much colder than down in WV, so they hold their snow base longer. You can still get beers for sixty cents in the nearby towns. There's 150 miles or more of snowmobiling in the region. Basically it's what skiing must have been like about 30 years ago at most places, before the resorts came along. It has a 32 dollar weekend lift ticket, and that's the all day/all night ticket. If you want to knock off at five, it's 30 bucks. Check out the trail map: http://www.skidenton.com/ then go to "snow".

With that, I promise to try not to mention them again this winter...
wgo
October 15, 2004
Member since 02/10/2004
1,262 posts
Wasn't there also a thread somewhere that had different lists of the toughest slopes? I'll try looking for it later today
JohnL
October 15, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
First of all, how challenging a run is depends upon the current conditions. If a trail ices up or gets bumped up, it will ski much tougher. Duh! Most trails in the Mid-Atlantic are periodically groomed, so right after a grooming, a black diamond can ski like a green.

Another factor in determining the challenge of a trail is the skier's skill set and experience with a variety of conditions. Just a bit of ice, or crud, or powder, or bumps or bare spots can really throw off the skiing of many people. I.e., there are a lot of one-dimensional skiers out there. A better rounded skier wouldn't notice the difference in small changes of conditions.

On to the trails. I never really understood why Off The Wall @ Timberline was considered steep or all that tough. (I only skied it last year.) From what I understand, last year was the first year the snowmakers added some significant swales to the trail. These swales increased the level of difficulty of the trail immensely; the tallest was probably a ten foot drop. Without those swales, the slope is pretty flat for a double black. The next trail over at Timberline, The Drop, has even less challenge. The main challenge of those two trails is the often icy conditions.

That said, Timberline has some legitimate and very fun trails and glades that will keep any advanced skier happy several weekends a year, even if they won't necessarily be challenged to the limit.

Best goods for advanced skiers: Blue Knob, by far. You don't have to ski the glades to get your challenge, the trails will do that. There are plently of threads on this site about Blue Knob. Some of the threads even discuss skiing.

I'm hoping to go to Laurel Mountain and Elk Mountain in PA this winter. Both areas have the reputation of having some challenges. A couple of hours past Elk is Plattekill in New York. It has even more of a rep than Elk. It's been on my to-ski list for a while.

Roger Z confirms what I've heard about Ski Denton. Unfortunately, I've also heard that it is a real long drive away and the steep sections are very short. 100-120 annual inches is also not that much snow for challenging natural snow runs or OB runs.
Roy
October 18, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
I had not heard of (or at least not paid attention to) Ski Denton. Looks like it has the possibility for some expert diversion. The Avalanche trail looks interesting if it is truly 66 degrees as the website states. However, having a green switchback trail that cuts through it 3 times does not appear to be smart trail management by the operators.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
October 18, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004
2,171 posts
Haven't been to Denton and I must. However, sight unseen, I'll wager that the slope in question is no more than 35 deg., max. if someone goes there and puts an inclinometer on it (not the downhill side of the steepest mogul but an average over the steepest 100 vertical feet). I have seen that 66 deg. figure on their web page and it is due either to cluelessness or false advertising. Only a tiny handful of super elite skiers in the world, mostly in the Alps, can ski 66 deg. Ski areas often report the percent grade as the slope angle. Percent grade = 100 times the tangent of the angle. Without carrying your trig tables around with you, Percent ~ 2 X Slope Angle. This is true within a couple of degrees until you get up over 45 degrees; this doesn't concern me because I don't belong on slopes over 45 deg. I have taken clinometer measurements of lots of slopes, inbounds and backcountry. Just for reference, Outer Limits at Killington and Extrovert at Blue Knob are about 32 deg. (I'm guessing the same for that slope at Denton). The top of Starr at Stowe is ~ 37. The steepest named map slopes at Whistler, Snowbird, Jackson, and Mammoth are about 42. That's about as steep as it gets on named on-the-map runs in N. America. At Mt. Wash., NH, Dodge's Drop, The Duchess, and JT's (in the Great Gulf) are near 50. The steepest parts of the rest in Tuckerman's and Great Gulf are ~ 45. I have skied some of those and they are at my scare limit. The difference in intimidation factor between a 45 and a 50, viewed from the top, is enormous. Every degree beyond 40 is a big step in fear factor. Skiers almost always overestimate slope angles and by a lot. You have to ski a lot of slopes and take a lot of inclinometer measurements to get accurately calibrated.
PhysicsMan
October 18, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
Quote:

Haven't been to Denton and I must. However, sight unseen, I'll wager that the slope in question is no more than 35 deg., max. ... I have seen that 66 deg. figure on their web page and it is due either to cluelessness or false advertising. ...




Yup, Denis. That's pretty much the same thing I said in Sept. 2002: Post #16 in http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=6654

BTW, to try to avoid crowds on a President's Day weekend several years ago, we headed up to Bristol & Greek Peak (relatives in the Finger Lakes area). Our route took us fairly close to Denton, so I made a bit of a detour and we skied Denton for the afternoon.

It had a very pleasant, old-tyme feel, but unfortunately, it was very warm and there wasn't much snow. The side of the mountain with the signature runs was closed & I didn't think it was worth the effort to hike over just to look at them, so I can't comment on their steepness from personal experience. Hwever, from general lay of the land, I would doubt that more than a hundred feet vert or so is in their steep category.

I really liked Denton for the lack of crowding, the overall feel, and the courtesy and good behavior everyone displayed. I might go back again for another afternoon to escape the crowds, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to ski there just to bag a hundred feet of steep vert.

Tom / PM
JohnL
October 18, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Ski Denton only has a total vertical of 650 feet (barely more than Liberty or Roundtop.) I doubt the steep section of Avalanche has much more vert than the headwalls at Liberty and Roundtop. Just a bit too short for me, especially if I'm driving 4+ hours to get to the place.

I think it was generally accepted that the 66 degrees was percent grade, not slope angle (pitch?). As an another example, Snowshoe is fond of quoting "steeps of 52 percent" for the bottom of Lower Shays. Just goes with the marketing territory...

Denis, are the numbers you quoted for the North American areas from your own measurements? I would have thought that there would have been a few slopes around 50 degrees for at least several hundred vertical feet mellowing out to 40 degrees or so for the rest of the run. Are you quoting the average pitch of the entire trail?

Some steep sections that come to mind as possible candidates:
-Routes on Spanky's Ladder or Couloir Extreme @ Blackcomb.
-Highland Bowl @ Aspen Highlands.
-Palisades at Squaw (skiers right of the cliff jumping section)
-Headwall of Snowbird
-Big and Little Couloirs at Big Sky
-Some of the hike-to chutes near the tram at Snowbasin

Hate to think how scary 50 degrees really is ...

And if you're hiking up a 50 degree chute, the hike up and putting on of your skis must be more nerve racking than the descent.
Roger Z
October 18, 2004
Member since 01/16/2004
2,181 posts
Roy- that green switchback trail doesn't cut through it but intersects at the side and keeps moving. What's nice about the intersection points is that each one is a slope inflection, so if you're skiing with someone who isn't quite sure they can handle the first major drop, they can ski down the green circle and join on at the second major drop, which isn't as steep. Or the third drop, which is a little less steep yet.

Depending on the conditions, there are three runs at Denton that are more challenging than Avalanche, and that's not including "Extreme," which I challenge anyone to find as a separate run from the woods. Avalanche can probably get pretty bumped up; it wasn't when I was there, and when it's groomed it's a scream.

Yeah, it's definitely 66%, not 66 degrees, btw. But as far as 650 feet of vertical goes-- that's not much different than 90% of Snowshoe and they're both just as far. CV only has 750-800 feet (you get the extra 50-100 feet by skiing down to the beginners area) and the main pitch at T-line only coveres 650-700 feet of vert with 300 feet of run-off. There's almost no run-off at Denton.

As far as the steepest runs I've seen, the steepest by far was Bighorn at Big Mtn Montana. Don't overlook Lake Louise. There's a couple of chutes there that are hair-raising and their bowls are long and steep. Couloir Extreme and Spankys are long but not really any steeper than Parachute at Solitude, and possibly less so (Parachute runs for 1000 vert). Finally, Alpine Meadows has some great pitches back in the trees in their hike-to terrain. The back bowls were fogged in when I was ther so I couldn't chek it out, but the trees had some of the steepest stuff I've seen in several years, running I'd guess 500 vert or so.
JohnL
October 19, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

But as far as 650 feet of vertical goes-- that's not much different than 90% of Snowshoe and they're both just as far. CV only has 750-800 feet (you get the extra 50-100 feet by skiing down to the beginners area) and the main pitch at T-line only coveres 650-700 feet of vert with 300 feet of run-off. There's almost no run-off at Denton.




Some good points, Roger Z. But I'm not a real big fan of Canaan Valley or Snowshoe. I guess for me, the glades of T-Line and the additional snowfall tip the balance and make the drive worth it. If Denton got just a bit more natural snow or had maybe 300 feet of extra vertical I'd be pretty motivated to make the drive and check it out. But if I'm out that neck of the woods this winter (visiting Blue Knob or Laurel Mountain), I may drive a few hours north for a day at Denton. Sounds like a neat little area. But there are only so many ski days in the year. Until I win the lottery.
Roy
October 19, 2004
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Found an article discussing steepness. In it, it states that Big Couloir at Big Sky is 42 degrees and Corbet's Couloir in Jackson Hole is an average of 40 degrees (except for the entrance). Here's the article.

Steepness
JohnL
October 19, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Nice link. Looks like most of these quoted figures are average steepness for the entire run, with some sections at or approaching 50 degrees. But as the article says, conditions, exposure, hazards, length of the steep section matter more than the actual slope angle.
Denis - DCSki Supporter
October 22, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004
2,171 posts
I've been very busy watching my Red Sox and have neglected to answer. 15 yrs. ago a friend and I skied Tuckerman's Ravine together and vowed to ski all the steepest runs in N. America before reaching 50, when we thought our legs would be gone. Have since changed jobs and lost touch with my friend but have learned a couple of things.

1. It is dumb to ski things in order to check them off a list.

2. Steepness (or more properly the intimidation due to it) is very subjective. It depends on exposure, how you feel that day, the conditions, the company, etc.

3. No matter what it says in a guidebook there is always something steeper, often off the map, unnamed and seldom skied, that is hairier than the stuff in the book. Virtually every major mountain in the west has something like this.

4. I'm 63 now and the legs are still good, just not for so many hours per day. The nerves are not as good. Lacking the right inspirational company, usually my son, I am likely to wimp out.

5. Never ski something near your limit if you think you might screw up. Come back another day when you and the mountain are right. The mountain will always be there. But if it never happens, so be it.

I have skied some steep stuff, but not the ones you mention. The Saudan Couloir (now Extreme Couloir) was almost totally whited out the day we looked at it. We could see only about 50 ft. and that 50 ft. looked wicked so we passed. National at Squaw, on the skier's right of the Palisades, had a long deep crack across it just below the lip. It was late Apr., 70 deg., and the crack was growing each time we went up the lift. We did ski Mainline and also traversed in just below the Palisades cliffs and skied there. The only time I've seen the Cirque runs at Snowbird was on my first trip west and my head just wasn't there yet. Probably the steepest runs I've skied were at Banff Lake Louise and Mt. Wash., NH. At LL my son and I did a number of chutes off the high poma, or maybe T-bar. They were marked by a gate and a sign, that said "avalanche terrain, occasionally open", It was open and there were a few tracks so we went in. After 100 ft. or so of moderate slope the bottom dropped out and we were looking at about 2000 vertical ft. that scared the bejeezus out of us. The snow seemed perfect. 6-12" of powder over a "chalky" hardpack that was not icy and held our edges very well. We kicked a few snowballs over the edge, watched, thought for a few minutes and then dropped in. It was perfect, even easy after the first 5 turns. What a high! These were chutes used for the Cdn. extreme ski championships and they have no names, except A - G (or thereabouts) and they increase in difficulty with the alphabet. We did B, C, D. At that point my legs were shot but John did E & F.

In May of 2003 I did one of the Great Gulf gullies on Mt. Washington, NH. Here is a link to a panorama of GG runs assembled in 2002 by one of the friends who was with me that day.
http://ca.f1.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/switzer_crowley/detail?.dir=/b6c3&.dnm=152c.jpg

Here is a link to my story of that day,
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0305c&L=skivt-l&D=1&O=A&P=5463

Here is a pic, of the Airplane gully, taken by a guy in another party we met that day.
http://www.biglines.com/photos_large.php?picid=28516

The run in the foreground with no tracks on it is JT's, a true 50 degree chute that is rarely skied. My son-in-law and a couple other young supremely confident guys skied it later. The other run is Airplane Gully. It looks steeper than it is because the view is looking at it from about 45 degrees to the side. It is at but not beyond 45 degrees in slope angle. Slopes always look steepest when viewed from straight on. They look true only when viewed from the side. You can see a skier with a white hat standing at the top of the rock tongue and 2 more on the snow at the top. There is one skier climbing in the extreme lower right corner. These are very serious slopes and people have died here.

The following day my brother-in-law and I skied the summit (east) snowfields, which are easily accessible to any solidly advanced skier.
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0305c&L=skivt-l&D=1&O=A&P=6622
The auto road opened on this weekend. Every year there is a period of 2-4 weeks after the auto road opens when you can drive up and avoid the long hard hike to access the mountain's skiing.

Ski and Tell

Speak truth to powder.

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