Former ‘Shoe GM tasked with linking Canyons and PCMR

Bill Rock

Rock ran Snowshoe as GM from 2005-2010

Bill Rock, who served as Snowshoe’s General Manager from 2005 to 2010, now heads up both The Canyons and Park City Mountain, with an eye toward linking the two Utah resorts by the 2015-16 snowsports season. He gives a lengthy Q&A to the Deseret News with details of the $50 million plan, which include a new gondola, additional snowmaking, and new/upgraded restaurants.

The two resorts that Rock heads as COO are both owned by the publicly-held Vail Resorts, the latter acquisition made last fall after years of wrangling with the former owner, which notoriously failed to renews its lease on the land.

Warm rain prediction makes Snowshoe ditch final bonus weekend

A Jeep at the Brigham Center
What would Snowshoe do?

Officials with Snowshoe have decided not to open for the final bonus weekend that had been planned when polar vortexes and hefty snowfalls made skiers and riders pine for an extra chance at making some turns. Mother Nature, however, had some other surprises up her cloudy sleeve, as the National Weather Service is forecasting warm rains up to and including the April 5 and 6 weekend.

“We’ve had a fantastic winter, but all good things must come to an end,” said a message on the Resort’s Facebook page (the place where some bad news about Silver Creek’s operating hours also first appeared).

“We want nothing but the best experience waiting for you when you get here,” continued the FB posting, something that didn’t mollify Radford-area snowboarder Ryan Holcomb.

“WEAK!” writes Holcomb. “No last hurrah, pond skim, or any season end festivities? Way to end the season on a buzz kill.”

Holcomb hints that he’ll be back on the mountain anyway, “poaching” some turns at the shut-for-the-season resort, which, ironically, enjoyed a surprise snowstorm on Sunday, March 30, the day of the season-quashing announcement.

One Richmond-area enthusiast, Chris Jones, pointed out that Wintergreen now has more open trails. “So don’t I get my next day of skiing free?” “I agree,” replied fellow enthusiast Garry Huff. “Where’s the snow guarantee now?”

Those pleas were not immediately answered by posting time, but a check at the website of the Snowshoe Guarantee reveals that the guarantee was only valid until March 16.

Other snowsports enthusiasts seemed less perturbed.

“Skiing until 30 March ain’t bad for Mid-Atlantic,” wrote LeeMath Tutor of Chesapeake, Virginia. “[See you] next year!”


Snowshoe extends season to April 6

124" so far in the 2013-2014 season.

Riding a wave of 29 inches of snow in the past seven days and making the announcement on the day the $199 “Ridiculous Pass” goes on sale, Snowshoe reveals that it will remain open for snowsports until April 6. Prior statements alluded to skiing and snowboarding through March, and the resort website still touts deals “through March,” but this February 18 Facebook announcement seems clear:

“Oh and just because we are feeling extra #ridiculous, we are going to extended [sic] the season to include April 5th and 6th for your skiing and riding pleasure!”

So the Facebook admin may have been a little rushed, but one surmises that he or she is rushing out to the slopes which have enjoyed a reported 124 inches of snowfall thus far this season. Although that includes some early-season snowfalls washed away by rain in late November and early December, the point remains that this has been a bountiful season.

Those of us with condos have seen an uptick in rentals, the slopes have seemed loaded with patrons, and the trees have sagged under the heavy blankets of snow. Snowshoe appears on track to exceeding its 180-inch annual snowfall average.

Hopefully, April 6 will include that pond-skimming event on the Skidder slope in which die-hards attempt to ski atop the water.

Snowshoe renews America’s sickest snowsports pass deal

In what some had worried might have been a one-time deal, Snowshoe has announced that on February 18 it will again sell the “Ridiculous Pass,” a full season pass of skiing and snowboarding for $199 with no restrictions. The pass became a runaway hit last year for offering snowy entertainment throughout the following snowsports season, plus a portion of the so-called “spring” ski season.

“$200 for the rest of this season and all of next season can’t be beat!” exclaimed Facebook user Kevin Knight on a March 12 resort FB thread announcing the deal. (Previous pass-holders got word of the deal two days earlier.)

The only difference between this year’s and last year’s Ridiculous Pass is that this one rises in price by $5 per day for nine days before it leaps to $299. Even at that level, the Ridiculous pricing is far below Snowshoe’s $449 regular season pass rate – and far below many competing resorts.

The next cheapest West Virginia resort is Canaan Valley, which charges $500 for its standard pass. Winterplace is $599, and Timberline charges $635 as the regular rate. In Virginia, Wintergreen Resort offers a $359 pass, but that Nelson County resort renders season passes invalid most holidays, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings.

By contrast, Snowshoe’s Ridiculous Pass has no blackout dates, and it starts unlocking the resort’s 60 named runs on the first day of March. Ridulous Pass buyers also get a ten percent discount at resort restaurants plus ten percent off all non-holiday lodging rates.

Snowshoe calls this “the best pass in the East,” and Virginia Beach resident Kevin Terrell sums it up in a Facebook comment.

“Stoked!” says Terrell.


Snowshoe curtails hours at Silver Creek

Snowshoe claims it's providing better powder opportunities

In a move widely denounced by many snowsports enthusiasts, Snowshoe Resort has trimmed the operating hours at its Silver Creek resort by moving the midweek opening time from 9am to noon.

“The most family-friendly spot on the mountain is open the least!!” exclaimed Facebook user Bonnie Cersley Long. “Very disappointed. I hope this decision will be reevaluated.”

The decision took effect on Monday, January 27, with the announcement coming in a brief release on the Resort’s Facebook page.

The second of the two sentence release was this: “Enjoy a leisurely morning before making laps at the Creek or take the opportunity to experience the freshest powder twice, with first tracks at Snowshoe, then again at Silver Creek.

That rationale didn’t resonate with Facebook user Phil Burch.

“What kind of ridiculous logic is this ‘first tracks’ comment? Using that logic why not open 10% of the mountain at 9:00, another 10% at 10:00 another 10% at 11:00 etc. Wow, you’d get to make a lot of ‘first tracks.’”

However, Facebook user Philip Bubel wrote, “Fresh tracks at noon sounds cool.”

For some, the move highlights what they see as an increasing emphasis on the main Village at Snowshoe at the expense of Silver Creek, a once-separate resort opened in 1983 and coming under the Snowshoe umbrella a decade later. Although much smaller than the main resort, Silver Creek has long been prized by families and powder-hounds for its thinner crowds. Silver Creek is further distinguished from the rest of Snowshoe by offering night skiing, something that will not change under the new schedule.

Still, many stake-holder fear they will suffer financially from the decision.

“This should have been announced before the season, so we could rethink our decision to purchase a condo at Silver Creek this month,” wrote Facebook user Cheryl Hoover. “We need the rental income at Silver Creek just as much as the owners in the Village do.”

“Hey Cheryl,” responded the Resort’s FB administrator. “I will pass along your feedback to our team. If you would like a resort liaison to contact you, please private message us your contact information or you can email”

The resort went on to explain, in response to another guest’s complaint, that the change “will allow us to continue to provide excellent conditions with additional hours for snowmaking.” In all, there were 115 comments on the Facebook thread by noon on January 29.

Photo Credit: neonow via Compfight cc

Snowshoe rocks the early season

SNOWSHOE, NOV 24 – The thermometer in our condo says it’s 18.3 degrees Fahrenheit outside on the first Saturday of the ski season. It’s been snowing all day – never heavily but consistently dropping fluffy powder on the slim handful of slopes that Snowshoe was able to muster for the season that many of us thought might have launched a little sooner.

America was abuzz in late October over the Frankenstorm, as we then jocularly called the impending hurricane which later created calamities in the greater New York area. We’re sorry about the losses in the northeast, but for those of us who watch Snowshoe’s every move with eager anticipation, the Frankenstorm was something exciting.

The first snowfall of the season actually occurred on October 1 – a little dusting. But it was Frankenstorm, aka Superstorm Sandy, which collided with a cold front from the west as the Jet Stream dipped low over the Appalachians that spread blizzard conditions over Pocahontas County and your favorite resort.

The Weather Channel, taking heed of the forecasts of a surprisingly early snowfall, stationed a correspondent up here. And the Frankenstorm delivered. Over two feet fell between October 29 and 30, according to Snowshoe’s Facebook page which went pretty quickly from delight to damage control.

“Why didn’t Snowshoe open up?” the Facebookers asked.

Snowshoe said there were lots of power outages in the area. I don’t remember ever reading an allegation that Snowshoe itself was without power, but the story was that West Virginia was hard-hit by outages that made opening impractical.

The fans were offering to come up and help pack the snow. As it turns out, those two feet disappeared from all the slopes not getting hit by the snow guns. When Snowshoe finally opened on Wednesday the 21st, the day before Thanksgiving, there were just a few trails opened. Bummer!

On the bright side of things, this opening comes two weeks prior to the planned opening of the season. And from the looks of the things, this could be a banner season.

The three or four inches that fell today, the 24th of November, have transformed the look of this place. Instead of bearing that grim strips of white against a sea of brown look typically sported in the early season, it now looks like a winter wonderland!

The only serious chafe at this point is that there’s only one non-beginner, non-connector trail open: the former Spruce terrain park. Returned to its original status as a blue square (intermediate) trail, it’s open. And it’s crowded.

Snowshoe puts up archival pix

photo by Mark Poore

Snowshoe celebrated its history last Friday by putting up a six-pack of archival photos – a “Friday Flashback“ – on its Facebook page. Seemingly, the most popular picture (based on the initial wave of comments) was this shot of the “Old Man of the Mountain,” the fabulously human-looking chunk of granite that once graced the Ballhooter liftline. Alas, the late 1990s Intrawest-funded rebuild of that chair into a high-speed quad seems to have necessitated the removal of the top of the figure’s head.

On-slopes policing: A hit or miss (literally) affair

Patrolling handing out punishment?

Patroller handing out punishment on Cupp Run?

I’m fascinated by the topic of on-slopes policing or the lack thereof. Now that I’m a parent with fragile children on the slopes, I find I want more of it at my favorite ski resort.

I’ve spent a few chairlift rides asking Snowshoe snow-patrollers how they patrol. One of them says he never revokes tickets because people pay so much money to come here. He says he prefers to give a stern lecture to reckless riders. However, last season, I watched another patroller set up a sort of sting on some fellows who were riding through the woods and then bursting out onto busy Cupp Run. I even shot a picture of him meting some sort of punishment on what I’ll call “the buffoon group” – after the famous statue called the Laocoön Group – because they ended up painfully intertwined with each other.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually favor off-piste skiing, even if it’s not officially allowed by Snowshoe. Off-piste skiing helps clear some traffic off the trails, and at an Eastern resort like Snowshoe, any injuries that happen off-piste will still be well within reach of the ski patrol. January 2011 was a mecca for off-piste skiing at Snowshoe because so much natural had accumulated that the logs and rocks of the forest were well-covered.

Anyway, back to the topic of patrolling. On one recent trip down the Widowmaker slope at Snowshoe, I pointed out a reckless fellow in bright yellow pants to a patroller and indicated that he’d been skiing too fast and too close to people, including children.

“I’d have to see with my own eyes to do anything,” the patroller said.

“Well, there he is in his bright yellow pants,” I replied. “Why don’t you watch him on his next run?”


Another time, a member of my party got run over by an errant boarder. As he slowly skied down to the Ball Hooter lift, he dabbed his bloody lip with a tissue. A Snowshoe official approached. Was he inquiring about the incident? No, he handed my relative a blue card to be handed to the lift attendant to measure the duration of the liftline. True story!

Who knows what punishments actually happen at Snowshoe?

Where I live, Charlottesville, the flagship state educational institution has just one penalty for lying, cheating, and stealing, a penalty that’s so severe – permanent expulsion – that the University of Virginia’s Honor Code gets routinely ignored. And I suspect that’s what’s happening at Snowshoe. If nobody’s bothered to come up with a lesser penalty than ticket-shredding, who’s gonna mete out such a merciless punishment?

At Wintergreen, the ski area closest to my home, I feel like I see a lot more effort from the courtesy patrol and the ski patrol to get folks to slow down at intersections, thin trails, and green-circle slopes. Before the advent of shaped skis, Wintergreen was so serious about safety that it would require a little proficiency test before allowing access to its expert-only zone, the Highlands.

What I’d like to see Snowshoe come up with is more boots-on-ground. More importantly, I’d like to see someone come up with a less-punitive system to encourage good behavior. I’ve come up with such a system that might work.

We all know that Snowshoe uses bar codes, so how about coding a warning onto each reckless skier’s ticket? It would be accompanied by a thick orange mark from a Sharpie. That way, there’s a mild form of scarlet – well, orange, anyway – public shame, but the offender gets to keep his or her ticket. And after 24 hours, the offender could walk to the Depot to get a fresh ticket that, although still secretly bar-coded as an offender, no longer carries the visible stigma like a modern day Hester Prynne.

So suppose you get pulled over once, you get oranged, but you get to keep skiing or riding. But if you get pulled twice in a day, or a third time in a season, then you lose your ticket (or your multi-day or season pass).

Has anybody tried such a thing?

Right now, Snowshoe’s slopes can be a terrifying free-for-all. This would be a way to make them safer.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Latest Comments