Wednesday, February 15, 2006
That breezy howl you heard during last weekend's snowstorm wasn't the wind in the trees -- it was a massive sigh of relief from area ski resorts. Sweating through the warmest January on record wasn't a boffo way to start the year for places that depend on chills for their thrills. Who wants to sip hot chocolate in the lodge if the weather outside isn't so much frightful as just right for Bermuda shorts and grilled portobellos? Well, just in time for Presidents' Day weekend, mid-Atlantic ski resorts are delighted to announce the return of winter.
"Oh man, we're happy," said Dick Barron, director of ski operations at Seven Springs in Champion, Pa.
Most resorts in the region have been blowing as much machine-made snow as possible to keep the trails open. Chairlifts have been running and folks have been coming to scrape out a few runs on the factory-produced slopes. None of that compares to the long-awaited joy of a huge, transforming blanket of the real white stuff. Overnight, the base grew by a half-foot or more, closed trails reopened and cross-country routes came alive.
"Everyone's enthused," said Lori Epp, events and public relations manager at Maryland's Wisp Resort. "The locals are out there getting in some midweek skiing before the city folks show up for the weekend."
If skiing suddenly seems more appealing, here's a brief update from some nearby downhill and cross-country areas in the region. For a comprehensive list of regional ski resorts, including an interactive map, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/skiguide .
-- Steve Hendrix
· Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Reports getting eight inches of new snow over the weekend, with "lake-effect" snow continuing. All 41 trails are open, as opposed to the 14 slopes under the snowmaking system, and all 13 chairlifts and tows running. Last slopes close at 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays (10 p.m. other days). Adult daylight passes begin at $35 weekdays, $46 weekends and holidays. Late-season discounts begin after the second week in March. 777 Waterwheel Dr., Champion, Pa.; 192 miles from Washington; 800-452-2223 (ski report: 800-523-7777), http://www.7springs.com/ .
· Whitetail Mountain Resort
Reports getting eight to 10 inches of new snow, including some powder left on ungroomed trails. With 17 of 19 trails open as of Tuesday, Whitetail expected to have all trails open by the weekend. "Things were starting to melt down a little bit," said Whitetail marketing coordinator Chris Black. "But I've worked here for six years and these are the best conditions I've seen." Whitetail is open daily for skiing, snowboarding and tubing until 10 p.m. Adult day passes begin at $43 weekdays, $51 weekends and holidays. 13805 Blairs Valley Rd., Mercersburg, Pa.; 91 miles from Washington; 717-328-9400 (ski report: 717-328-9400), http://www.skiwhitetail.com.
· Liberty Mountain Resort
Reports 10 inches of new snow, freeing up three previously unskiable trials. Thirteen of 16 trails are open, as are five lifts and the 15-lane tube park. The snowboarders' half-pipe remains closed. Liberty, the resort closest to Washington, is open until 10 p.m. nightly. Adult day passes start at $41 weekdays, $50 weekends and holidays. 78 Country Club Trail, Fairfield, Pa. (Carroll Valley); 78 miles from Washington; 717-642-8282 (ski report: 717-642-9000), http://www.skiliberty.com.
· Wisp Resort
Reports 10 to 13 inches of new snow, allowing the resort to reopen four trails that had been closed for a time in January. All 32 trails are open, along with nine chairlifts and tows and a nine-lane tubing park. Wisp offers night skiing each evening until 9 p.m. (weekends only after March 6). Adult day passes begin at $39 during the week, $52 on weekends, $55 on holidays. 296 Marsh Hill Rd., McHenry, Md.; 180 miles from Washington; 301-387-4911 (ski report: 301-387-4911), http://www.skiwisp.com/ .
Reports 12 inches of snow over the weekend, adding to a base of 24 to 48 inches. All 14 slopes are now open, including six lifts and a nine-lane tubing hill. "This is the best skiing we've had in a while," said Steve Showalter, ski-area general manager. "Things sort of hit the skids in January. When it's 45 degrees here and 60 in D.C., it's really hard to get people stirred up to come skiing." Massanutten offers night skiing until 10 p.m. nightly. Adult day passes start at $42 during the week, $56 on weekends and $59 on holidays. Beginning March 6, adult day passes will begin at $32. 4620 Massanutten Dr., McGaheysville, Va.; 145 miles from Washington; 540-289-9441 (ski report: 800-207-6277), http://www.massresort.com/ .
· Wintergreen Resort
Reports 10 to 12 inches of fresh snow, building the base to 38 to 46 inches. All 24 trails and five lifts are open, as are the 10-lane tubing hill and a smaller tube park for younger kids. Wintergreen offers night skiing until 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). Daytime adult passes begin at $42 during the week, $56 on weekends and $59 on holidays. Late-season discount rates will kick in mid-March. Route 664, Wintergreen, Va.; 151 miles from Washington; 800-266-2444 (ski report: 434-325-2100), http://www.wintergreenresort.com/ .
· Elk River Touring Center
This cross-country ski area reports getting 14 inches of new snow over the weekend. Unlike downhill slopes, cross-country trails are too widespread for mechanical snowmaking, so backcountry skiing has been largely shut down recently. The center boasts about 4 1/2 miles of trails on the property, connecting to more than 18 1/2 miles in the Monongahela National Forest. Elk River's trail fee is $5 per person, with a complete ski rental package and pass available at $15 for adults, $8 for kids 12 and under. Route 219, Slatyfork, W.Va.; 242 miles from Washington; 304-572-3771 (ski report: 866-572-3771), http://www.ertc.com/ .
· Snowshoe Mountain
Reports a 19-inch dump of new snow. Most slopes remained open under machine-made snow, but some cross-country and snowshoe trails had been closed in January. "Now we're completely open," said Andrea Smith, communications manager. "We would have been skiing without the new snow, but it does improve conditions." Snowshoe is running 14 lifts on 57 trails. Adult day passes start at $45 during the week, $60 on weekends and $62 on holidays. Off-season rates, with adult day passes beginning at $30 per weekday, start March 6. 10 Snowshoe Dr., Snowshoe, W.Va.; 238 miles from Washington; 304-572-1000 (ski report: 304-572-4636); http://www.snowshoemtn.com.
· Canaan Valley Ski Areas
Canaan Valley, home to four downhill and cross-country ski areas about 180 miles from Washington, reported 14 inches over the weekend.
Timberline Four Seasons Resort: A downhill ski area with 35 trails and three lifts. Adult day passes start at $33 during the week, $49 on weekends and holidays. Late-season rates will fall to $26 and $29, respectively. 800-766-9464 (ski report: 800-225-5982), http://www.timberlineresort.com/ .
White Grass Touring Center: White Grass is known for some of the best and most extensive cross-country skiing on the East Coast, with a natural foods cafe that attracts nearly as many fans. All 31 miles of the center's varied trails, half of which are groomed, are open following the weekend storm. A one-day trail fee is $12 for adults; rentals are $12 on weekdays and $15 for weekends and holidays. 304-866-4114 (ski report: 800-225-5982), http://www.whitegrass.com.
Canaan Valley Resort: Snowmaking helped keep about 75 percent of the resort's 37 trails and three lifts running, plus a five-lane tube park. Now everything is open, including a new "air-boarding" park -- think boogie-boarding on the snow. Adult day passes begin at $34 midweek and $52 for weekends and holidays. After March 6, rates drop to $27 a day. 304-866-4121, http://www.canaanresort.com/ .
Blackwater Nordic Center: Ten miles of cross-country trails within Blackwater Falls State Park, including long stretches of groomed trail and a sledding hill served by a lift. Daily trail fee is $5. 304-259-5216 (ski report: 800-225-5982), http://www.blackwaterfalls.com/ .