Hello skiers and riders of the southeast!
Hopefully by now you have been out enough where your ski legs are fully under you and you are taking advantage of this splendid season with confidence. Do not worry if you have not, because this is the time of year where the open trail count goes up while the lift ticket prices start to drop. Deals in March are available, and bargain turns are better than no turns at all.
Virginia is for lovers, and it is very apparent why based upon the natural beauty all around. If you love mountains you will be greeted with some Blue Ridge bliss. These piles of rock stretch from end to end along the western half of the state, and on a clear sunny day they stand out with attractiveness and tranquility. These peaks are a key component of the slogan, and when you combine that with your love of skiing or riding you will get a great return on your investment.
Wintergreen is a very accommodating resort that welcomes skiers and riders of all abilities. They have a decent vertical for this region, multiple chairlifts, and a sophisticated snowmaking system that can cover up a lot of runs in little time. Do not forget the awe inspiring views that are free of charge. If you like to have moments where you just sit there and look around this is the place to do it at.
The resort is divided up into three distinctive sections that also create a little bit of separation between the different abilities of skiers and riders.
Two out of three zones, which are the big Acorn Lift and the Blue Ridge Express Lift, cater to your beginners and intermediates.
This is where you will also find that the terrain park, snow tubing, restaurants, rental shop, and ticket offices. I went inside before hitting the slopes and was impressed by how efficient their staff was with accommodating people safely and quickly, so as to give them as much time as possible on the snow.
The one piece of tough love that I have to share is that you’ll find most of your crowds in these two locations. While it is great news that visitations are up it also merits a need to be more patient. It felt as though I had spent more time waiting in line to ride up the Blue Ridge Express than all the time spent in line at the other lifts combined.
While a vast majority of people were understanding, a very small percentage of people got antsy and must have felt some sort of entitlement to cut ahead of others in line as if they were a free for all. Please remember that everyone is there to have fun, and a little common courtesy goes a long way.
Even with that annoyance there were plenty of people having a great time and making sure to get as much in as they could. At the third part of this resort, the Highlands Express Lift, you will find the thrill seekers with a special love for the sport. This high speed six pack has the shortest lift lines, but it also dished out the most vertical to arguably the most challenging runs in all of Virginia. If you have a love for punishment you can certainly receive that after a couple of laps on this section.
The snow coverage was plentiful throughout the groomed runs, but I was surprised that they did not have any snow on Outer Limits which is a must-ski whenever you visit here. Another surprise was complete grooming on the Upper Cliffhanger run, because they usually leave skiers left ungroomed for some bump and ride.
In spite of those two changes, I was pleased with a third which was extra snow in the trees next to Upper Wild Turkey. The trees provided enough shade to stay off direct sunlight and had enough room to bob and weave around. This then led to a mogul section on Turkey Chute directly below the lift in which coverage was thinner with some bare spots, but with enough manmade to navigate through.
I must warn you that we are in that freeze and thaw part of the season, and it is best to wait until the afternoon for those features simply because the snow conditions went from frozen chatter boxes to mushy mashed potatoes throughout the day.
Around the noon hour I could feel the difference in snow firmness anytime I skied in a shaded half versus the side that was sunbaked all morning. Not only does this make for an adaptive challenge on the fly, but it also created a decision dilemma prior as to which wax to use and how many layers of clothing to wear. Many people riding up the lift expressed the need to shed layers as the afternoon kicked in. If you love springtime, this is your window.
Speaking of spring, this week is probably the unofficial period of time where the traditional winter atmosphere gives way to the quirky spring feeling. Much like how the leaves of summer slowly transition into a pallet of autumn awesomeness, skiers and riders do a similar display with their weirdness.
On this day I shared a lift ride up a young lady that had a very solid Scottish accent, only to find out she is from Raleigh and chose to speak like that very recently. I observed a few younger guys flexing their muscles in a shirtless fashion as they made their way down, and from what I can tell none of them had been cheese grated by the snow… yet.
Of course this is also when eye catching and retro fashion comes out to play. I shared a lift up with John Suddreth and his friend Mike Schmid, and John’s jacket was an elaborate combo of pink, teal, and red with yellow zippers that screamed hello from the 1990’s. Wow!
Another thing to be on the lookout for are bridal showers, because if you blink twice we will be fully entrenched in the wedding season. I noticed one such entourage of bridesmaids accompanying a lucky young lady that wisely chose to spend part of her girls’ weekend on the slopes. I must say that the white shirt and veil were a nice touch, but the shiny onesie outfit her friend wore was a classic.
So hopefully Katherine and her crew are reading this, and may your upcoming nuptials on June 19th to Will be a very special day for you.
The point I am trying to make is while you may feel summer creepin don’t get tired of this town again. The lifts will be spinning for your amusement this month, and you can break out that neon tutu, throw on a colorful wig, and don your favorite superhero cape. Perhaps a snorkel, wet suit, and scuba goggles too if you plan on pond skimming.
Either way this is the time to celebrate the love of skiing and riding, and Virginia is a state that welcomes you to do so.