So now that Crotched and Pat's Peak are done with weekday nights and it was a really nice day I decided to check out Whaleback. I had been there a few times, but all > 10 yrs ago. I remembered a few things about Whaleback that would make it a good (only) choice for today. They have most of the exposures except for south covered, since I was starting out at 4 I figured it would be nice to have some west facing runs. Also their steeper runs have a fairly north exposure so given the recent weather I'm thinking they should have preserved the winter-like snow surface well. I was a little bit unsure if they'd actually be open so I tried to call them, the had an option for snow report, so I checked it out, too bad it was last updated Mar 9. I figured I'd try to speak to someone, but I just ended up with general voice mail. I decided to head up anyway and walk up the damn thing if they were closed.
Turning the corner on the road I was happy to see good cover on the runs down the front side of the hill and the lift spinning.
And pulling up to a perfect parking spot 1/2 way between the lift and lodge and looking up at empty chair and still some freshies on the liftline run
After dropping $24 on a pass for 3pm - 7pm I headed out to the chair. Conditions look crusty, but pretty good cover and still lots of untouched. I'm on my board and strongly prefer powder under a bit of crust to the groomers, I'm thinking the whale' is my kind of place today.
Cresting the top of the hill I get a look at why there are so much fresh snow.. The trail is roped, as are all of the steep runs and all the runs on the west exposure except the long beginner run. Not much to say really, I have rarely seen runs with so much snow closed. Granted there was surely some crap under the snow, but compared to 100's of open runs around NE, this is good cover. I'm guessing they felt the crust was dangerous, and it certainly isn't the easiest surface to ride, but plenty of people can handle it. It just seems nuts that a place with very limited snowmaking and steep runs outside the snow belt would be so conservative.. The cover doesn't get all that much better.
So not in the mood to poach I resign myself to their cruiser terrain on the northeast exposure since that's what they had. The surface was actually quite nice, not overgroomed.
I did find some crusty untracked here and there and ended up having a decent time anyway. Could have and should have been much better. One bright spot for them is that they seemed to be quite busy with lessons for kids and had a good amount of easier runs for kids and families and no crowds either. Maybe they should market less to the urban style crowd and more to the kids family thing, it seems like that's what they do well, so why not go with it?
Additionally on the downside the park was not so hot, with smaller hits and a few rails and I didn't see anyone riding "The Dock", not what I was expecting to see at a place that advertises the way they do. Also there were no moguls at all! Not what I was expecting from a place run by a mogul champ in the spring after a decent dump. The lodge is crappy and needs cleaning badly, the windows were covered in filth and muck and flies. I know they are out of money, but 'elbow grease' doesn't cost anything. They had no ice in their 'cafeteria' soda machine and the soda machine on the deck didn't work either so my jones for carbonation was satisfied by luke warm soda
I'm not sure if this was just late-season let down or if this place was like this all year. I really wish Whaleback well and will return to visit anytime their front few trails are open. Lodge is not really important, I usually just grab a ticket and later a soda, so I don't personally care if they let it rot, next time I'll leave a soda in the car. Just open the damn runs and have a regularly updated snow report!
Posted: Mar 22, 2007 - 3:17 PM GMT
Edited: Mar 22, 2007 - 3:19 PM GMT
I left before it got dark so I don't know what they light last night. They were only open from 3-7pm so I'm not sure if they turned them on, when I left around 6:30 the sun was going behind the horizon, but it was still light out and no lights on. Whaleback does have some cool night lighting, it's attached to the trees instead of poles. At least the wide lift line run is light, I'm not sure about the other of their closed runs.
I think that they all come on regardless if the trail is open or not. There have been many an evening when the whole place is lit up and only one trail is open/covered on the mountain.
__________ Fall Linen. Imaginary line following the most direct path down a slope that skiers continuously traverse on a run, often stopping at other invisible slope features along the way like the Tumble Lane, the Stagger Path and the Topple Zone.