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Wisp Trip Report (short)
4 posts from 4 users
Updated 3 months ago
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3 months ago

Wisp doesn’t get a lot of attention on this forum, so I’ll share some thoughts from my first ever visit this past weekend (2/8 and 2/9).  Luckily for me it snowed the previous week and on our arrival day, so I got to experience fresh snow on just about every square inch of the mountain. A smattering of thoughts (about skiing, not vacationing or sightseeing):

Skiing out past the eastern continental divide sure makes a lot of sense.  Snow was everywhere and we got to ski the best the mountain could offer: ungroomed/natural under lift 5 and on the far side of Main Street; Bobcat bowl (which of course is just half of Odin’s Chute, more on the strange trail map in a moment); and Devil’s Drop.  Anytime I can ski natural/ungroomed on decent terrain at a resort within 3 hours of my house I am a happy camper.  It was breezy as expected but we were prepared.

Crowds were light, except for awhile when they didn’t run Chair 3 and the line for Chair 2 was a bit backed up.  They also didn’t run Chair 1 on the friday which was unfortunate.  Could they be understaffed with lifties for whatever reason - ?

Some of my group rented and the process was pretty smooth.  Some in my group also took lessons and the feedback on the staff was great.  The wide open apron area with the three carpets to looker’s right makes for a great learning set up. 

So I endorse Wisp as a great spot to visit mid-winter if you have a group if different abilities, and with some luck you should have good cover.

But I can’t endorse Wisp as a go-to ski area for local weekend skiing.  The mountain is so disjointed.  I didn’t realize how flat it is on top until I got up there -  which makes getting around quite a chore.  To make it worse, most of the trails were laid out to benefit the real estate lots.  As a result of the houses/streets and limited topo they only have a few real blue runs.  The real travesty is the North Camp area, which I believe came online in 2005.  I’ll assume real estate developers masquarding as skiers laid it out.  Such a shame.  They could have installed one quad up that whole side of the mountain and had a lot of nice fall line skiing.  Instead they put up two short quads and ran two roads down the hill.  They have 150 acres over there and it isn’t as fun as Liberty (and count me as a Liberty fan).  Total bummer.

Finally, it seems like there is some room for improvement from PGR (http://pgri.us/resorts.php).  The trail map they inherited is basically like a Picasso rendition of the actual terrain.  They need to get a Cat D11 dozer and some fill and reshape the weird undulating runouts from the lifts at the top.  The signage is not clear or visible half the time.  Finally, I don’t understand the snowmaking efforts.  They either aren’t trying or they don’t know what they are doing.  They have UNLIMITED water.  It is colder up there than anywhere else around here… and they couldn’t get the mountain 100% open until mid-February. Now here we are mid-March and they already closed the entire north camp side.

The $279 season pass is enticing but my impression is the ski operation is a bit of an afterthought, and is really just run for 10 weekends each winter.  Lucky for me I visited on a prime (maybe the best) weekend of the season.

  

3 months ago

RodneyBD wrote:

 Finally, I don’t understand the snowmaking efforts.  They either aren’t trying or they don’t know what they are doing.  They have UNLIMITED water.  It is colder up there than anywhere else around here… and they couldn’t get the mountain 100% open until mid-February. Now here we are mid-March and they already closed the entire north camp side.

While it’s been years since I’ve been, I agree with most of your points except the water for snowmaking.  Do you think it’s unlimited because of the lake?  I recall they have retention ponds on top.  Not sure these draw from the lake.  Maybe so in the summer/fall to fill them if necessary?  Can anyone in the know clarify?

3 months ago

Wisp’s lack of snowmaking is a real issue and has been for at least the last 4 years or so, maybe more. They have great potential but after the management changed a couple years ago things really deteriorated and they don’t even attempt efforts in snowmaking or replacing burned out lightbulbs for night skiing. I think they spent all their money changing their logo and taking away the side parking lot to build more little huts. It’s a real shame.

In January 2018 when I was there on MLK weekend with family it was cold as heck out but they hardly had enough snow cover to open the mountain it seemed. Yet at the top of Odin/Bobcat Bowl (LOL) was an enormous collection of snowmakers just… sitting… all weekend. I have a picture of it somewhere because I was so flabbergasted. No reason they couldn’t have hooked them up. It’s so ungodly cold up there most of the winter but Wisp just doesn’t care.

Your trail map observations are spot on. What’s funny about those massive log cabins up at the top over by Ace’s Run is that when they were building them I thought they were enormous fancy mansions. Turns out they’re duplexes and some of them aren’t even very nice inside. On holiday weekends the place is slammed with lines for chair lifts as well as the mountain coaster and snow tubing practically down the street. 

It sounds like you had an awesome time and really good conditions. Wisp is where I learned to ski so I always love hearing reports from there!

3 months ago

Thanks for the report. I’ve only been to Wisp once, for a weekend 3 years ago. I enjoyed it, including the handful of blues and blacks in the North Camp area and hadn’t really thought of it as a missed opportunity but looking back I can see what you mean. Also disappointing to hear about the shortcomings in the snowmaking department. Wasn’t it just a couple years ago that they pulled the plug (temporarily) on the season in February? That was not a good sign.

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