Reporting Jay Lloyd
Skiers and riders are already making tracks in the fresh snow on the slopes of Killington in Vermont and in the Rocky Mountain highs. Can the nearby Pocono Mountain season be far behind? Well, maybe just a few weeks.
So, while visiting ski shops for tune-ups and new gear, let’s take a look at what’s new for this season at some of our favorite Pocono Mountain resorts. – Jay Lloyd
CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN RESORT
CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN celebrates a big birthday this winter, marking half a century of skiing at the largest snow sport hills in the Poconos.
Of course, a lot has changed since Camelback opened its trails. Snowboarding and snow tubing has become all the rage. To help you navigate, the mountain has launched an anniversary web site, www.SkiCamelback.com, and a unique snow tubing site that can be accessed through the main site. Furthermore, the tubing complex at Camelback has exploded to an impressive 42 chutes serviced by two “Magic Carpet” lifts.
In the world of snowboard riders, the mountain is carving a terrain park dedicated strictly to beginners with constant pitch terrain to put more fun into that first newbie run.
Weekend, all-day, adult lift tickets this season will cost $59, while weekdays will be $51, with discounts for tags bought online. Check out all the rates here.
SHAWNEE MOUNTAIN SKI AREA
Family-friendly SHAWNEE MOUNTAIN is cranking up a new program this season designed to put your youngest offspring on boards and on top of the snow. The “RIDEbaby” lesson is aimed at turning the three-year-old crowd into three-year-old snow surfers (my own daughter started skiing at Shawnee as a two-year-old). RIDEbaby is a one-hour lesson on kid-friendly terrain. Look for a child-oriented terrain park with easy to navigate features as well as brand spanking new high-performance skis, boards and boots in a rental shop that can outfit over 4,000 snow hounds.
Adult all-day tags go for $55 on weekends and $45 mid-week, with a variety of discount plans available. See all the rates here.
JACK FROST BIG BOULDER
The popular twin Pocono areas JACK FROST and BIG BOULDER have been undergoing lodge refurbishing for the new season with spruced up deck space for those sunny winter days. Both base lodges have a brighter look for more comfortable breaks between runs.
On the slopes, high-tech snowmaking systems have been tuned up to get more powder on the trails faster than ever. The super steep “Elevator” trail at Jack Frost has been trimmed to create more skiable traversing room.
Lift tickets are, again, interchangeable between both mountains. Ski and ride on Jack Frost by day and charge down Big Boulder under the lights. All-day adult lift tickets are $50 on weekends and $44 midweek. Check the rates here.
Remember SNO Mountain? It actually started life as Montage. Under new ownership this season, the MONTAGE MOUNTAIN name is restored to the northernmost ski resort in the Pocono chain. With the new ownership comes a variety of changes, including a new food court, eateries and an outdoor courtyard.
On the mountain, you’ll find night skiing has a brighter feel as the slopes become bathed in LED lighting (cutting down on deceptive shadows). Plus, there are more tubing chutes and a pair of terrain parks that have been rejuvenated with new features for the coming winter. Pricing info should be available shortly.
The closest Pocono ski area to home, BLUE MOUNTAIN continues its nearly quarter-century expansion from a skiable bump at the top of a large ridge to one of the highest vertical drops in eastern Pennsylvania (the difference in altitude from summit to base). “Razorback,” a competitive racing trail that skiers and riders like to challenge themselves with just for the fun of it, has been widened for the upcoming season. There’ll be more elbow room and traversing space for easier cruising in the steep.
Blue Mountain has also pumped up its snowmaking capacity on a trio of the most popular trails, which will make for an inflated buildup of snow on black diamond “Main Street,” easy cruising “Lazy Mile” and double-black diamond “Razor’s Edge.” Also, look for a new children’s learning center and “Magic Carpet” lift.
Adult all-day lift tags will be $63 on weekends and $54 midweek. See all the rates here.
Just a reminder: These ski and snowboard resorts are within the boundaries of the Pocono Mountains. New features at other resorts popular with Delaware Valley skiers and riders, including Elk Mountain to the north of the Poconos and Spring Mountain along with Bear Creek to the south, will be reviewed in a separate article. All the major eastern Pennsylvania resorts will be profiled individually as the season gets started.