Reporting Jay Lloyd
Thanks to last year’s unrelenting snows in a region filled with skiers and snowboarders who do their sport close to home, Pennsylvania winter resorts racked up a record number of visitors last season. As a result, a blizzard of resources has been poured into trails, lodges and terrain parks for the advent of a new winter in the Pennsylvania mountains. Here’s what’s happening. – Jay Lloyd
Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA 18356
Shawnee Mountain makes it easier to get away from the office this winter without totally neglecting your job. Both lodges have boosted their Wi-Fi service, which allows skiers to connect faster, work faster between runs, and get back on the slopes faster. Also look for “ballroom” conditions on the mountain due to upgraded snowmaking, new snow CATS and new groomers. And the rental shop has gotten a big boost as well with the addition of 350 new sets of high performance skis and 350 state-of-the-art snowboards. The shop can now outfit 4,000 skiers and riders a day.
One Camelback Rd.
Tannersville, PA 18372
High-fliers will hit a soft landing this season with the installation of a giant “Air Bag” on the main terrain park at Camelback. This lets riders expand their aerial skills and make a powder-puff landing no matter how they come down. It’s a chance to try jumps that create Olympic fantasies. The terrain park will also unveil cutting-edge rails, boxes and bonks to challenge snow surfers and freeskiers. Finally, fifty new hi-tech snowguns have been added to the Camelback snowmaking arsenal for more powder-like snow, even in marginal conditions.
JACK FROST & BIG BOULDER
Blakeslee, PA 18610
Sister resorts Jack Frost and Big Boulder in the western Poconos will be moving to a salsa beat this season: The popular Alpine Lounge at Boulder has morphed into the new T-Bar, with stunning views of the slopes and some of the areas hottest bands and brews on tap every Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. and on holidays. Check out the new features for riders in both the Frost and Boulder terrain parks this season, too; it’s all spelled out at http://www.jfbb.com, where you’ll also find new interactive trail maps that you can customize with your own photos and videos. Be part of the action and the display!
1000 Montage Mountain Rd.
Scranton, PA 18507
One of the most popular racing programs in the country returns to Sno Mountain every Saturday and Sunday this winter. Anyone can sign up to blast through the gates in NASTAR racing, where you’ll run a standard course (with a handicap system) that allows a skier to compare his or her results with competitors across the nation. The entry cost is $5 for two runs or $10 for 4-1/2 hours of racing. The course is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
344 Elk Mountain Rd.
Union Dale, PA 18470
One of the most enduring traditions at Elk Mountain, set high in the Endless Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania, has been the rustic, fireplace-warmed picnic lodge slopeside. For decades, families have been making their “first run on skis” carrying picnic baskets and coolers to the lodge for storage until lunch time.
This season, the lodge has gotten a facelift with some remodeling, brand new flooring and a fresh coat of paint. On the slopes and trails, snowmaking has been enhanced with the addition of new “airless” snow guns and a swarm of snow gun pedestals on the popular Lenape, Wissahickon and Snow Bowl trails. Elk also continues its contributions to the environment—they’ve planted an additional 1,200 Norway and White Spruce trees that have enhanced the scenic vistas on those long cruising trails.
This season, Pennsylvania ski and snowboard resorts have focused on pricing to keep skiers and riders on the slopes in a downhill economy. Look for more mid-week bargains on lift tickets and lodging, plus deeply discounted packages.
In an upcoming article, we’ll highlight the three ski resorts closest to home: Blue Mountain, Bear Creek and Spring Mountain. Stay tuned, and think snow!