Well, not exactly the Poconos but the general vicinity - Blue Mtn, Elk, and Sno Mtn. Kids here (south jersey seashore) had both Friday and Monday off so friend and I did Friday-Sunday weekend to get at least one day without holiday crowds.
Friday Blue Mountain - Conditions were a pleasant surprise. Weather was in the 40s and I expected a slushy mess. We had heavy ice cream snow, but no bare spots and no puddles. My first experience with RF tickets with gates at the lifts - seems great, don't see any downside to this for skiers, but don't know how mgt controls people sharing tix..
Saturday Elk Mtn - much more seasonal temps today - AM teens, highs in mid-20s. My first visit here in maybe 25 years. New lodge is nice (holiday rush made it impossible to guess how it handles normal crowd levels); groomers did a good job; BUT nothing else seems to have changed. In particular those old lifts seem SO slow - can anyone confirm the story someone told me that owners have purposely left the old slow lifts in place to limit the amount of skiers on the trails? It also bothered me some to note that many of the chairs might not have been painted since the last time I was there. Paint's cheap and you don't need skilled labor to slap some fresh paint on the lift chairs in the off-season. If mgt is scrimping on something so cheap and easy (and visible to the public), makes me wonder if they're cutting any corners on more critical lift maintenance tasks?
Sno Mountain - another pleasant surprise, with a few caveats - A good grooming job made conditions pretty nice until traffic and wind blew the top 2-3 inches of snow off the underlying "Pennsylvania hardpack" (those in other parts of the country might call it ice) Very few people on the slopes here. No way to tell if this was due to weather conditions (temps in the teens and very windy) or ongoing mgt/ownership issues. The hill skied great for our crew, but trails are kind of goofy - the top half is the easier part of the mountain, bottom half seems to be all black. Seemed to be lots of opportunities for intermediate (and beginners) to get themselves over their head. You start out on a blue trail from the top of the mountain then halfway down there are signs noting that it's now a black. If there's escape routes they weren't very obvious (to be fair I wasn't really looking for them). Lodge was a mob scene, the other parent was really PO'd that many non-skiing Mom's had camped out in the restaurant section making tables unavailable for those of us that wanted sit-down waitress service dining (don't know whether this is normal situation or if they were overwhelmed by holiday weekend and the crush of people who seemed ot have come to the area and then decided it was too cold to ski). As with Elk, lifts are in need of some TLC, and safety issues are of even more concern here because of rumors (any feedback?) the area is operating in bankruptcy.
Good weekend all in all. Oh yeah - proud papa would be amiss if I neglected to report that my 15-yr old daughter got a bronze NASTAR pin on her first day of running gates!
Edited by sr31aj - 2/18/13 at 8:35am