Originally Posted by NHpride365
Hey I just moved to DC the fall (from Boston) and haven't skied anywhere in and around the Mid Atlantic yet. Is West Virginia my best bet? I almost went a full season without skiing (yikes!) Finally got some turns last week in steamboat CO. Conditions were very spring but I had a blast anyways!
Thanks in advance for any suggestion in and around DC! (Also how late does they ski season last around here? Maybe I can get one last day in...fingers crossed)
Welcome to the area from another New Englander! I was initially disappointed in skiing in the mid-Atlantic after years as a Sugarbush-devotee, but have gradually settled in to skiing down here and have a rather nice season now. In fact, I have not ventured out West or to VT for about 5 years, as I can get 25 good days in here, which is about my limit if I want to remain employed and married!
West Virginia is where it's at in my opinion. Most mountain areas of WV have a Vermont-like climate for the middle part of the winter. Coupled with higher elevations (for instance 4848' at Snowshoe), we end up getting a pretty good season. Generally, the WV season ends a couple weeks sooner than the big VT ski areas, due to milder spring weather and lack of interest (yes, that's right -- skiers stop showing up before the snow does). Our typical season is Dec, Jan, Feb, and March. Backcountry and AT folks stretch into November on the frontside and into mid April or later on the backside. The big areas average 180-220" of natural snowfall in a good year (not this one -- Dec and early Jan were a bust) and most of them have huge snowmaking systems. In fact, the snowmaking systems down here are bigger and more sophisticated than New England resorts in my opinion, because we have to deal with more marginal weather down here. That means deep bases that can survive mild weather spells.
Snowshoe is closing on April 1 this year, as is Timberline, so there is still time to get out if you don't mind spring conditions. Overnight temps are above freezing for the next 7 days or so, so it will be mushy skiing for sure, but mornings generally have decent conditions because the snow settles overnight.
Canaan Valley is a podunk area, but great on a powder day. Timberline reminds me of Okemo or maybe Mt Snow -- same vibe and feel. Snowshoe is a classic big Intrawest resort, and has a bigger feel than TL or CV. In fact, the scenery is more akin to a western resort. I like all three places about the same, however Snowshoe has the longest expert trails, with 1500ft vertical (compared to 850-1100ft at the others). The two long expert trails on the Western Territory at Snowshoe are probably the best in the area, and again have a western feel to them (they are very wide and open in spots, and great for cruising fast). Any of these places are fantastic on a powder day, and I rarely miss VT anymore! Funny how powder is location-independent in terms of making epic ski days.
Of the ski areas in Virginia, I like Wintergreen the best, and have a season pass there. They have 1000ft vertical and fast lifts, which means you can get a lot of skiing in. The expert trails are fairly nice, but not as challenging as WV. It is overcrowded on Saturdays, but Sunday afternoons and especially weekdays are great. Never a lift line on weekdays. Wintergreen is closing this Sunday after a very good season Jan 15 - onward (they only had two trails open for Dec and early Jan because of abnormally mild weather). Sadly, they also close from lack of interest!! I was there yesterday, and despite temps in the 60s and 70s this week, they still have a ton of snow. Here are some pics from Wintergreen yesterday, with comments (this is a pictures thread after all):http://members.cox.net/hunter-associates/wtg032207/
Definitely check out the DCski.com web forums -- many of us from VA, WV, MD, and the DC area are on that site. There is a lot of good local info and discussion, and occasional meetups and trips. Some of us are tentatively planning a post season "earn your turns" hike/skin/ski get together in early to mid April (or if an April snow storm hits).
Bottom line, as a skier, I would rather live out west or in VT, but this area is not a bad third choice at all. Someday I would like to get a ski condo or house in the WV mountains, and that would pretty much keep me happy for a long time.