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Absolute most difficult ski mountain near DC?
20 posts from 14 users
Updated 6 months ago
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6 months ago
I absolutely love a challenge. The more ice, bumps, steep runs the better! Name the most difficult ski resort you’ve been to, and preferably less than 5 hours away from DC.
6 months ago
Blue Knob or Laurel Mountain
6 months ago

Blue Knob.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

Montage near Scranton has a few good blacks on the lower mountain.  Unusual layout, the base buildings are in the middle.  You can only see the top of the mountain from the road, which has the greens and blues.  White Lightning is steep enough to require a winch cat.  When there is enough snow, at least a couple of those trails are allowed to bump up.  I have friends who live in Philly who have season passes there.  The husband is a very good skier who learned at Montage.

I think what Blue Knob has compared to Montage is more trees, at least when there is enough natural snow cover.

Haven’t been to Laurel yet.

6 months ago

Blue Knob is my favorite in this category, but this season they haven’t had their best/steepest terrain open.  Timberline has some challenging glades and two steep runs that are often bumped up, but I don’t know if they are firing on all cylinders either.  For an available product Lower Shay’s Revenge at Snowshoe could be the winner. 

6 months ago

Boulderdash and Whoopdeedoo at Sugar can be fun.  But those are only steep for a few hundred feet of vert before they go back to Carolina blue..  Extrovert at Blue Knob is about 800 feet of pure 30* plus

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

According to the table on this webpage, White Lightning at Montage has an angle of 32 degrees for 400 feet on the final head wall where the winch cat is used.  Only Stembogan is listed for BK.  The minimum length was 300’ for the list that includes these two trails.  For the 500’ list, MakAttack at Massanutten is listed as 19 degrees for about 600 feet.  The lists are examples, not meant to be comprehensive.

http://www.skibum.net/do-it-up/comparing-steepness-of-ski-trails/

Right now MakAttack is flat.  The big bumps got too icy so have to start over again.  In any case, wouldn’t make the drive to Massanutten to look for icy steeps.

6 months ago

That’s a fun site that provides some interesting numbers. Note that Extrovert is on that list and comes in at 29.9 degrees for 453 feet of vert. The 32 degress for White Lightning at Montage was for 213 feet of vertical. In the past I have used the gpsvisualizer site to measure the top part of Extrovert (to the intersection of upper rt 66) at 37 degrees. Granted this is for not very much vert but it is certainly longer than the 2 or 3 turns on the steep headwalls at some places in the mid-atlantic.

6 months ago

Agreed with others, Extrovert (Blue Knob), Wildcat (Laurel) or Lower Shays

If you want a REAL challenge ski them after it’s rained and they’re icy.  If you want an even bigger challenge wait until they bump up, then it rains, then it freezes and ski those ice bumps.  Now we’re talking…

6 months ago

oddballstocks wrote:

Agreed with others, Extrovert (Blue Knob), Wildcat (Laurel) or Lower Shays

If you want a REAL challenge ski them after it’s rained and they’re icy.  If you want an even bigger challenge wait until they bump up, then it rains, then it freezes and ski those ice bumps.  Now we’re talking…

Damn, it looks like most of the blacks are closed right now. Hopefully it snows and they open up soon. 

6 months ago

Here’s a gradient map of Laurel Mountain prepared by the Jack Johnson Co. in 2008. Lower Wildcat is steep but it is usually groomed. Occasionally on weekdays it will go ungroomed.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
6 months ago

I always loved Extrovert at Blue Knob.  It has character.  It’s a truly great bump run.  I don’t know how to define those two qualities, which may be only in my own mind.  I know only that the skiers make the same bumps in the same places season after season, storm after storm.  It’s a function of the contours given by nature and the way that the bulldozers contoured it when the trail was built.  A bump run that doesn’t have those qualities will never improve unless it is bulldozed and done over.

6 months ago

I’m in full agreement on Extrovert. But the Upper portion is the only distinctive part. It’s 4 to 6 turns (right under the lift, so folks are watching) then a cat track break. Lower continues the fun, but it’s not too different from black runs elsewhere. 

If open. As noted above, it doesn’t seem yet this year. 

Montage’s lower runs (as they’re on the bottom half) offer some quick laps. But in my visits the bumps are often the remnants of snowmaking mounds. Challenging still. A great bar too. For an entire day, I’d still go a bit further to Elk. Tunkhannock has some long, tiring bumps. Better overall snow and vibe.

But for access and overall enjoyment, I still think the trio of expert runs at Whitetail offer quite a bit. Exhibition is a decent, long bump run. Bold Decision offers a double fall line and a fair steep part. Far Side is as much a blue, but a good cruiser to throw in the mix. A lift typically with no or much less lift line than others. Perhaps 90 minutes away. 

..my two bits. Go explore and have fun (like me and Laurel - never been!)

6 months ago

FreshPow wrote:

I’m in full agreement on Extrovert. But the Upper portion is the only distinctive part. It’s 4 to 6 turns (right under the lift, so folks are watching) then a cat track break. Lower continues the fun, but it’s not too different from black runs elsewhere. 

If open. As noted above, it doesn’t seem yet this year. 

Montage’s lower runs (as they’re on the bottom half) offer some quick laps. But in my visits the bumps are often the remnants of snowmaking mounds. Challenging still. A great bar too. For an entire day, I’d still go a bit further to Elk. Tunkhannock has some long, tiring bumps. Better overall snow and vibe.

But for access and overall enjoyment, I still think the trio of expert runs at Whitetail offer quite a bit. Exhibition is a decent, long bump run. Bold Decision offers a double fall line and a fair steep part. Far Side is as much a blue, but a good cruiser to throw in the mix. A lift typically with no or much less lift line than others. Perhaps 90 minutes away. 

..my two bits. Go explore and have fun (like me and Laurel - never been!)

Elk looks promising, I’ll probably go check that one out. Blue Knob and Snow Shoe were my first options but Blue Knob doesn’t have much snow and Snow Shoe doesn’t have any available lodging the weekend I’m going. Montage also seems nice but I heard Elk is much more scenic which is definitely a plus. Thanks for the help everyone! I appreciate it. 

6 months ago

Since I like bumps, I’d agree with Lower Shays and the expert’s choice chair at Whitetail.

WT first.  I’m not a big fan of Bold Decision, but when Exhibition is bumped up, it gives me a good workout / challenge.  

At Snowshoe, Lower Shay’s has the benefit of a decently long and steep pitch, plus decent width (so you’re not right on top of other skiers), and bumps.  Kind of a shorter but steeper version of Exhibition.  

I haven’t made it to BK or Laurel, but I prefer these runs over what I’ve skied at Wisp, Timberline, Liberty, Massanutten, etc.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy other mountains, but given your stated preference, the two listed above are my favorite.  

Also, I’ll add that while it’s very short, Knotbumper at Snowshoe can be fun / a challenge to drop into at speed.

6 months ago

yeah,  the very top part of Knot Bumper has been a lot of fun this year. Only 2 turns but a really fun drop in.

Lower Shays on Monday had the toughest conditions I have skied this year (note I have only skied locally). Not just firm conditions, but a literal sheet of ice, in contrast to the powder conditions elsewhere on the mountain. When Lower Shays is not bumped up and conditions are good it is not a difficult run. But there is something satisfying about skiing well in difficult conditions, for sure.  

6 months ago

Reisen wrote:

Also, I’ll add that while it’s very short, Knotbumper at Snowshoe can be fun / a challenge to drop into at speed.

Lots of focus on bump runs but I find Knotbumper Glades more difficult.  First you must drop into KB then enter glades on skier’s right.  Top has tight trees on steep pitch then lower section has lessor pitch and typical glades.  Gotta wait for good snow though.

6 months ago

Bonzski wrote:

Lots of focus on bump runs but I find Knotbumper Glades more difficult.  First you must drop into KB then enter glades on skier’s right.  Top has tight trees on steep pitch then lower section has lessor pitch and typical glades.  Gotta wait for good snow though.

If I was ever actually there when the glades were open I would probably agree…I was surprised they were not open on Monday and I have heard that SS really frowns upon poaching and did not want to get my pass pulled.

6 months ago

wgo wrote:

Bonzski wrote:

Lots of focus on bump runs but I find Knotbumper Glades more difficult.  First you must drop into KB then enter glades on skier’s right.  Top has tight trees on steep pitch then lower section has lessor pitch and typical glades.  Gotta wait for good snow though.

If I was ever actually there when the glades were open I would probably agree…I was surprised they were not open on Monday and I have heard that SS really frowns upon poaching and did not want to get my pass pulled.

Knowing how it was on Sunday I’m surprised also.  I’ve been caught poaching and suffered Ken’s ire…yes they do frown on it.

6 months ago

I’ve skied both Elk and Blue Knob and I am a big fan of Blue Knob.  Do a search on this board and you’ll find lots of plaudits about the terrain at BK.  Thankfully, a partnership out of Pittsburgh purchased the resort from the previous (and way under-capitilized) family owner.  But will probably take them a few seasons to get the snowmaking infrastructure back up to speed. 

Snowcat got your tongue?
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