Black runs
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SkiNewbie126
December 30, 2022
Member since 12/30/2022 🔗
7 posts
I have been skiing for a few seasons now and I am finally linking turns and getting fairly confident on steeper blue runs. I am looking to transition into black runs this year, so I am looking for advice on the best resorts/trails to give it my first go on a black trail. I've done most of the blues at roundtop, liberty, wisp, hidden valley and snowshoe (so not any big mountains) but haven't looked or paid attention to how steep and difficult the blacks are.  Any tips helpful but preferably suggestions on a shorter trail to start with at one of the mentioned mountains or of similar type. Thanks!!
JimK - DCSki Columnist
December 30, 2022 (edited December 30, 2022)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,938 posts

Those short, but steep runs on the backside of Liberty would be my first suggestion for a training ground.  I'm sure you've probably seen them if you've skied the easier runs on the backside.  They are called Strata, Eastwind and Ultra.   If they were 500 yards long they'd be pretty serious black diamond runs and one or more of them is often left to bump-up.  But they are only about 75 yards long, so if you struggle with them the tough part is over quickly and you can get back into your comfort zone on the lower angle terrain below them leading to the pair of fixed grip quad chairs back there.  Also, Liberty seems to do a good job blasting them with lots of manmade snow so the surfaces are usually decent to work with for a good part of the winter.

BergafSchaatsen
December 31, 2022
Member since 11/16/2022 🔗
3 posts

I would say the easiest black at the 3 local areas is Exhibition at Roundtop (could easily be a blue at another resort), unless you count Drop In at Whitetail which is basically one turn.

Grumpy dad
January 4, 2023
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
142 posts

Go out west. :)

Even the steepest of runs out west are nothing compared to a boiler plate iced out blue in the east.

DCSki Sponsor: Massanutten Resort
dukegrad96
January 5, 2023
Member since 10/21/2020 🔗
24 posts

Agree with a previous poster that Exhibition is the easiest from a pitch standpoint, but not if it's bumped up. Disagree about the top of the head walls at Liberty, I wouldn't start there. Here's my order:

the easiest to start with:

upper Lafayette - Roundtop (ski it early before it's iced over)

Upper Exhibition to Lower Ramrod - RT

Lower Gunbarrel - RT

patriot - RT

White Lightning & Upper Blue Streak - Liberty

Barretts Trail - RT

palisades Glades - RT

Far Side - Whitetail

Drop In - WT

Exhibition - WT (no bumps)

FINAL TIER

Bold Decision - WT

Exhibition - WT (bumps)

Upper Strata - LT

Upper Eastwind - LT

Upper Gunbarrel - RT

Crush
January 5, 2023 (edited January 5, 2023)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,251 posts

Don't get too hung up on trail ratings or locations. Instead try - for every run to - make it on-point or more perfect. Every single turn has to be right-on. Stick to the blues etc or even greens until you are 70% technically right and move up. It has to be automatic - you can't think about it in a tight situation ( this will happen ), just do. JimK is 100% right for playing on something (  I do mean playing ) at Liberty. If you just survive a run you are going to learn a bunch of bad habits that will stick and impede you. Best thing is to take a clinic with coaches/instructors that will be brutally honest with you. Don't get discouraged with the feedback. Like Miley Cyrus - The Climb. You'll fail, you'll rule but don't rush it. Keep going and push on. Take it one step at a time and always be honest with yourself. It will always be an up and hill battle. It isn't about how fast you get there. And the rewards are too big to quantify.  You'll find it one of the most rewarding things in a lifetime! You'll look back at that one turn that is locked in your memory and say "yeah - I did that". 

SkiNewbie126 wrote:

I have been skiing for a few seasons now and I am finally linking turns and getting fairly confident on steeper blue runs. I am looking to transition into black runs this year, so I am looking for advice on the best resorts/trails to give it my first go on a black trail. I've done most of the blues at roundtop, liberty, wisp, hidden valley and snowshoe (so not any big mountains) but haven't looked or paid attention to how steep and difficult the blacks are.  Any tips helpful but preferably suggestions on a shorter trail to start with at one of the mentioned mountains or of similar type. Thanks!!
rbrtlav
January 6, 2023
Member since 12/2/2008 🔗
575 posts

The black trails on the far end of silver creek at snowshoe aren’t too bad, and will likely be less icy and crowded than some of the other trails people have listed, especially if you get some fresh snow. (They aren’t open for night sessions) The trails at the basin are longer sustained steepness and more crowded. 

Otherwise I’d agree with the roundtop suggestions. If you haven’t been to whitetail, the blues there have more sustained steepness and would be a good way to work up to a bit more endurance on longer blue trails. If 7springs gets a lot of snow their trails become really wide and open allowing for a lot of room to turn. However they are going to need some more snow to get the width.

SkiNewbie126
January 6, 2023
Member since 12/30/2022 🔗
7 posts

Thanks so much! A list like this is exactly what I was hoping for. I will probably start at Roundtop then. I've only been once before anyways so it will be nice to be able to see experience more than the greens there. 

dukegrad96 wrote:

Agree with a previous poster that Exhibition is the easiest from a pitch standpoint, but not if it's bumped up. Disagree about the top of the head walls at Liberty, I wouldn't start there. Here's my order:

the easiest to start with:

upper Lafayette - Roundtop (ski it early before it's iced over)

Upper Exhibition to Lower Ramrod - RT

Lower Gunbarrel - RT

patriot - RT

White Lightning & Upper Blue Streak - Liberty

Barretts Trail - RT

palisades Glades - RT

Far Side - Whitetail

Drop In - WT

Exhibition - WT (no bumps)

FINAL TIER

Bold Decision - WT

Exhibition - WT (bumps)

Upper Strata - LT

Upper Eastwind - LT

Upper Gunbarrel - RT

SkiNewbie126
January 6, 2023
Member since 12/30/2022 🔗
7 posts


 Thanks! I actually just went to Snowshoe and tried Silver Creek a few weeks ago but unfortunately only the greens were open. Hopefully we can go back later in the season to give them a try. I have a friend who does ski patrol at Whitetail and he said the same thing about the blues so I will take that advice. 

rbrtlav wrote:

The black trails on the far end of silver creek at snowshoe aren’t too bad, and will likely be less icy and crowded than some of the other trails people have listed, especially if you get some fresh snow. (They aren’t open for night sessions) The trails at the basin are longer sustained steepness and more crowded. 

Otherwise I’d agree with the roundtop suggestions. If you haven’t been to whitetail, the blues there have more sustained steepness and would be a good way to work up to a bit more endurance on longer blue trails. If 7springs gets a lot of snow their trails become really wide and open allowing for a lot of room to turn. However they are going to need some more snow to get the width.

SkiNewbie126
January 6, 2023
Member since 12/30/2022 🔗
7 posts


 Thanks! That is very good advice. It took me a very long time to progress even to blues so I do get a little frustrated, but I have found I have a much better time when I focus more on having fun and improving at my own speed! Learning to ski as an adult is definitely the hardest thing I've tried to do and has had lots of those "awesome I did it!" moments. 

Crush wrote:

Don't get too hung up on trail ratings or locations. Instead try - for every run to - make it on-point or more perfect. Every single turn has to be right-on. Stick to the blues etc or even greens until you are 70% technically right and move up. It has to be automatic - you can't think about it in a tight situation ( this will happen ), just do. JimK is 100% right for playing on something (  I do mean playing ) at Liberty. If you just survive a run you are going to learn a bunch of bad habits that will stick and impede you. Best thing is to take a clinic with coaches/instructors that will be brutally honest with you. Don't get discouraged with the feedback. Like Miley Cyrus - The Climb. You'll fail, you'll rule but don't rush it. Keep going and push on. Take it one step at a time and always be honest with yourself. It will always be an up and hill battle. It isn't about how fast you get there. And the rewards are too big to quantify.  You'll find it one of the most rewarding things in a lifetime! You'll look back at that one turn that is locked in your memory and say "yeah - I did that". 

SkiNewbie126 wrote:

I have been skiing for a few seasons now and I am finally linking turns and getting fairly confident on steeper blue runs. I am looking to transition into black runs this year, so I am looking for advice on the best resorts/trails to give it my first go on a black trail. I've done most of the blues at roundtop, liberty, wisp, hidden valley and snowshoe (so not any big mountains) but haven't looked or paid attention to how steep and difficult the blacks are.  Any tips helpful but preferably suggestions on a shorter trail to start with at one of the mentioned mountains or of similar type. Thanks!!
SkiNewbie126
January 6, 2023
Member since 12/30/2022 🔗
7 posts


 I did ski at Steven's pass last year but only had a half day so only managed time for some greens but I very much appreciated the lack of ice there!! I don't think I will have the opportunity to get out west this year but maybe next! 

Grumpy dad wrote:

Go out west. :)

Even the steepest of runs out west are nothing compared to a boiler plate iced out blue in the east.

rbrtlav
January 6, 2023
Member since 12/2/2008 🔗
575 posts

SkiNewbie126 wrote:


 I did ski at Steven's pass last year but only had a half day so only managed time for some greens but I very much appreciated the lack of ice there!! I don't think I will have the opportunity to get out west this year but maybe next! 

Grumpy dad wrote:

Go out west. :)

Even the steepest of runs out west are nothing compared to a boiler plate iced out blue in the east.

 The PNW is a different beast, snow is deep and heavy from my experience. Colorado and Utah usually have much lighter snow and imo it’s a lot less tiring. 

Crush
January 6, 2023
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,251 posts

Cool ! I wanted to clarify as I often talk in analogies instead of being clear. What I was trying to say is your journey will be a little bit like going back to grade school; you have class time with a teacher and then you have play time where you mess around and have fun. 

Class time is important, but play time is REALLY important! If you look at many athletes , whatever the sport, they like to play and mess around to push those boundaries in their own way. Go out and do silly things like what if I put my hands here? Move my hips and ass like this? 

I used to be totally stupid and would do hop-turns on the edge of Ultra, just because it was fun. A ski instructor observed me and said "you watch too many ski films". I said "yeah but I am having a hell of a good time!"

Have a good time!

SkiNewbie126 wrote:


 Thanks! That is very good advice. It took me a very long time to progress even to blues so I do get a little frustrated, but I have found I have a much better time when I focus more on having fun and improving at my own speed! Learning to ski as an adult is definitely the hardest thing I've tried to do and has had lots of those "awesome I did it!" moments. 

Crush wrote:

Don't get too hung up on trail ratings or locations. Instead try - for every run to - make it on-point or more perfect. Every single turn has to be right-on. Stick to the blues etc or even greens until you are 70% technically right and move up. It has to be automatic - you can't think about it in a tight situation ( this will happen ), just do. JimK is 100% right for playing on something (  I do mean playing ) at Liberty. If you just survive a run you are going to learn a bunch of bad habits that will stick and impede you. Best thing is to take a clinic with coaches/instructors that will be brutally honest with you. Don't get discouraged with the feedback. Like Miley Cyrus - The Climb. You'll fail, you'll rule but don't rush it. Keep going and push on. Take it one step at a time and always be honest with yourself. It will always be an up and hill battle. It isn't about how fast you get there. And the rewards are too big to quantify.  You'll find it one of the most rewarding things in a lifetime! You'll look back at that one turn that is locked in your memory and say "yeah - I did that". 

SkiNewbie126 wrote:

I have been skiing for a few seasons now and I am finally linking turns and getting fairly confident on steeper blue runs. I am looking to transition into black runs this year, so I am looking for advice on the best resorts/trails to give it my first go on a black trail. I've done most of the blues at roundtop, liberty, wisp, hidden valley and snowshoe (so not any big mountains) but haven't looked or paid attention to how steep and difficult the blacks are.  Any tips helpful but preferably suggestions on a shorter trail to start with at one of the mentioned mountains or of similar type. Thanks!!
Grumpy dad
January 6, 2023
Member since 11/7/2021 🔗
142 posts


 People that travel alot out west and respect it more than the east, or people from the west will disagree with me.  

When you hit a nice groomed run out west, it's a fairly smooth experience.  Sure slopes get tracked out there and your legs are on fire after about 700' especially if you are in a higher elevation than you come from and only normally ski 700' vert tops.  

But in the east, to really ski properly your knees/legs need to be the ultimate shock absorbers.  Holding an aggressive edge in the east can be done on busy days but there's more ski involved with the timing and reading of the landscape in microseconds in your brain.  

It's MUCH easier to end up in the backseat on skis in the east because you are tired and missed your timing here.  NOt to mention, you can suddenly hit icy spots that do not look icy and that throws you off alot too.

Of course riding in powder is great out west.  So much fun and so effortless (unless of course it's deep)

SkiNewbie126 wrote:


 I did ski at Steven's pass last year but only had a half day so only managed time for some greens but I very much appreciated the lack of ice there!! I don't think I will have the opportunity to get out west this year but maybe next! 

Grumpy dad wrote:

Go out west. :)

Even the steepest of runs out west are nothing compared to a boiler plate iced out blue in the east.

Crush
January 7, 2023 (edited January 7, 2023)
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,251 posts


 Yep! Take a small hill like Liberty and learn to ski on a sheet of ice will move the needle! Being gentile and pulling those feet back under you until your hamstrings say no more at the top of the turn to keep your skis squirting away from under you , be neutral on your pressure thru mid turn and as Chilton's Auto guides say "Installation is reverse of removal". Repeat as needed lol! Oh I find tuning is super important. I like 0.5 degrees on the bottom of the edge and 3 degrees on the sides, with some de-tuning on the tips so it isn't too grabby.

Oh - wow - I remember K2 made skis with cracked edges that act like a saw on ice but I can't think of a modern ski that has that except ID One Mogul skis ... you'll need something maybe like the Atomic Maverick 86 C ? No metal so it won't be too  burly - rides like an all-glass ski like the old K2s. My wife demo'd them and we switch out so I could see what they felt like. A little too light-weight for me but they might work for you. Responsive and forgiving when you start riding your tails. Price point is not bad.

Grumpy dad wrote:


 People that travel alot out west and respect it more than the east, or people from the west will disagree with me.  

When you hit a nice groomed run out west, it's a fairly smooth experience.  Sure slopes get tracked out there and your legs are on fire after about 700' especially if you are in a higher elevation than you come from and only normally ski 700' vert tops.  

But in the east, to really ski properly your knees/legs need to be the ultimate shock absorbers.  Holding an aggressive edge in the east can be done on busy days but there's more ski involved with the timing and reading of the landscape in microseconds in your brain.  

It's MUCH easier to end up in the backseat on skis in the east because you are tired and missed your timing here.  NOt to mention, you can suddenly hit icy spots that do not look icy and that throws you off alot too.

Of course riding in powder is great out west.  So much fun and so effortless (unless of course it's deep)

SkiNewbie126 wrote:


 I did ski at Steven's pass last year but only had a half day so only managed time for some greens but I very much appreciated the lack of ice there!! I don't think I will have the opportunity to get out west this year but maybe next! 

Grumpy dad wrote:

Go out west. :)

Even the steepest of runs out west are nothing compared to a boiler plate iced out blue in the east.

superguy
January 9, 2023
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
518 posts

Some other non-ST resort recommendations:

HV: Barracuda, Firebird, Thunderbird. Also to skier's left of Barracuda you have Viper, which is narrow and requires tighter turns. Pretty fun run.

7S: Nearly anything at 7S, including Goosebumps if it's groomed. Not steep enough to be a double black, but it's the steepest run there.  Moguls take it up a notch, but that's true on any run.

LM: You can try Lower Wildcat once you get confident enough. One of the steepest you'll find in the area, and it's longer than most except maybe Extrovert.

BK: Deer Run is a pretty steep blue. Do Stembogan when it's open, and Lower High Hopes if it ever opens.

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter 
January 9, 2023
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
351 posts

superguy wrote:

BK: Deer Run is a pretty steep blue. Do Stembogan when it's open, and Lower High Hopes if it ever opens.

 To tie it in with another thread - Stembogan made me appreciate wearing a helmet.

mdr227
January 10, 2023
Member since 01/11/2016 🔗
191 posts
I would also consider looking to Massanutten or Wintergreen for some good long black runs that are a good next step from skiing blues at most local places.   Usually are groomed which is important for someone making the jump from blue to black.   
superguy
January 10, 2023
Member since 03/8/2018 🔗
518 posts

I skied Bogan when it was open but ungroomed and it kicked my butt.  Ended up wrenching my back when I took a bump wrong and wiped out.

Great run when everything clicks though.

wfyurasko wrote:

superguy wrote:

BK: Deer Run is a pretty steep blue. Do Stembogan when it's open, and Lower High Hopes if it ever opens.

 To tie it in with another thread - Stembogan made me appreciate wearing a helmet.

SkiNewbie126
February 15, 2023
Member since 12/30/2022 🔗
7 posts


 We ended up going to Seven Springs this past weekend and I did my first two black runs! There was enough snow to make the runs pretty wide which was perfect for me. Think I did Yodler Trail and Giant Steps. Yodeler was crappy conditions at the top but I made it down! Going to try roundtop next weekend although I'm sure the snow will be mushy..

rbrtlav wrote:

The black trails on the far end of silver creek at snowshoe aren’t too bad, and will likely be less icy and crowded than some of the other trails people have listed, especially if you get some fresh snow. (They aren’t open for night sessions) The trails at the basin are longer sustained steepness and more crowded. 

Otherwise I’d agree with the roundtop suggestions. If you haven’t been to whitetail, the blues there have more sustained steepness and would be a good way to work up to a bit more endurance on longer blue trails. If 7springs gets a lot of snow their trails become really wide and open allowing for a lot of room to turn. However they are going to need some more snow to get the width.

SkiNewbie126
February 15, 2023
Member since 12/30/2022 🔗
7 posts


 Thanks for the recs! We went to 7S and I did my first few black runs there! (and I didn't fall, yay) 

superguy wrote:

Some other non-ST resort recommendations:

HV: Barracuda, Firebird, Thunderbird. Also to skier's left of Barracuda you have Viper, which is narrow and requires tighter turns. Pretty fun run.

7S: Nearly anything at 7S, including Goosebumps if it's groomed. Not steep enough to be a double black, but it's the steepest run there.  Moguls take it up a notch, but that's true on any run.

LM: You can try Lower Wildcat once you get confident enough. One of the steepest you'll find in the area, and it's longer than most except maybe Extrovert.

BK: Deer Run is a pretty steep blue. Do Stembogan when it's open, and Lower High Hopes if it ever opens.

Crush
February 15, 2023
Member since 03/21/2004 🔗
1,251 posts
❤❤🏆
itdoesntmatter - DCSki Supporter 
February 16, 2023
Member since 01/17/2007 🔗
158 posts
Nobody mentioned any black runs at Wisp.  Mainstreet and Squirrel Cage are decent.  Not too long so if you get into trouble you don't have too far to go.

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Speak truth to powder.

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