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AREA RESORTS

It's a Short Hop to the Top of the Hill

149 MILES AWAY: Non-skiers can get their thrills by taking
149 MILES AWAY: Non-skiers can get their thrills by taking "The Plunge" at Wintergreen. (Wintergreen Resort)

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By Carol Sottili
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Here we go again.

The latest word from the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center is that the mid-Atlantic has a decent chance of another winter of above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.

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With that in mind, we took a look at a dozen local mountains and (no surprise here) found that, generally, the farther you drive, the more natural snow you'll find. But don't discount the closer-in locations: All have extensive snowmaking abilities that they will employ as soon as temperatures dip. Pick a slope that fits, slap the ski racks on the car and hope for cold weather.

Here's a look at the resorts, starting from the farthest away from downtown Washington to the closest. Snow statistics were gleaned from http://www.onthesnow.com and from the individual resorts, and distances and drive times are from http://www.mapquest.com; lift ticket prices are per day. Opening dates subject to change; check with the individual resort.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Where: Snowshoe, W.Va.

Distance:257 miles (4 hours 48 minutes).

Opening date: Nov. 21 (last year, Nov. 23).

Snow stats:

* Average snow: 180 inches (last season, 120 inches).

* Average season length: 131 days (133 days in 2006-07).

Price: High-season Friday-Sunday lift ticket is $70 for an adult (9 a.m.-10 p.m.).

Best for . . . enthusiasts serious about skiing and partying. A 1,500-foot vertical drop, three new expert trails and three terrain parks put it in the big leagues. A comedy club and nightclub keep night life fresh.


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