Firsthand Account: Whitetail
By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor
January 17, 1999 — I spent Saturday afternoon skiing at Whitetail, and despite the mixed precipitation the area received earlier in the week, I was surprised to find conditions that were hard to fault. In fact, conditions in the early afternoon were just about as good as the east coast can hope to get.
Whitetail dodged the freezing rain on Friday and received 4-6 inches of new snow. Nearly 100% of their terrain was open. The only trails that weren’t open were Limelight, the intermediate that follows the high-speed quad, and Far Side, the rightmost expert trail. Far Side has had extensive snowmaking, and a ski patroller said that it would be ready for opening after grooming and possibly one more night of snowmaking. With the warming trend this week, its opening may be delayed. Limelight has had very little snowmaking, and will be the last trail to open.
The rest of the 15 open trails had very good snow cover and depth. Conditions were packed powder. I found the best conditions on expert Exhibition. It’s wide and not terribly steep, and had plenty of soft snow with very little slick spots. Exhibition was also less crowded, allowing one to ski or board faster, and spend less time in the lift line, although the Expert’s Choice quad is considerably slower than the Whitetail Express.
Bold Decision, just to the left of Exhibition, was somewhat icier. Bold Decision is Whitetail’s toughest trail. It gets more shade than others, which can keep the sun from softening the snow.
The intermediate Angel Drop suffered from heavy skier and boarder traffic throughout the day, and was often crowded. Late in the afternoon, small moguls began to form. Some of the intermediates to the left of the Whitetail Express (such as Snow Dancer) were less crowded and had great conditions.
Around 12:30 p.m., the parking lot was beginning to fill up, but there were no lift lines at the Whitetail Express high-speed quad or the Expert’s Choice chairlift. Over the next several hours, longer lines developed at all of the lifts, but would periodically disappear. For example, when the Whitetail Express line backed up, I headed over to the Expert’s Choice lift. An hour later I returned to the Whitetail Express, and there was practically no line. In general, it seemed possible to avoid crowds by moving around the mountain.
The weather was beautiful, with temperatures climbing up to 50 and sunny skies. Those who had bundled up found themselves returning layers of clothing to their car or lockers.
The rest of the weekend should be excellent for skiing. Whitetail may get crowded as word leaks out that conditions are ideal. If you went skiing at other resorts, please let me know what conditions were like and how they were affected by the mixed precipitation.
Temperatures will be warming this week (“the January thaw,” as one patroller put it), which may put a hold on snowmaking, but this should result in nice, skiable snow without the ice spots. If you can sneak away from work this week on a weekday, you’ll be rewarded with some great skiing or boarding.
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About the Author
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer. To read other articles by Scott, click here.
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