PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The moon was full and the sky was crammed with starlight. From the condo deck on a ridge overlooking Camelback Mountain there was another light source. It was softer and it shone on the skiers and riders, navigating the mountain slopes under the glow of night illumination. It provided a constant light that defined the surface contours. The idea of keeping slopes and trails open to skiers by night goes back to the late 1940’s in the rugged countryside of Washington state. Then the concept worked it’s way east, where it was ideal for the comparatively compact ski hills of Pennsylvania. Today most of our regional winter sports resorts are completely lighted for skiing after dark. Here’s a look at the what and where.
Spring Mountain in central Montgomery County is our closest ski setting. It’s busiest hours are after dark when youngsters have left school and working friends get their kicks on snow sticks and boards. All 7 trails, slopes and the tubing park are lighted for night skiing and the ticket tab for skiing and riding after 4pm takes a deep discount to $30 on any night. Yes. There is a bar, eatery and lounge for adult gatherings after an evening on the trails.
More than 20 trails and slopes along with 3 terrain parks are all under the lights and completely covered by an arsenal of snow guns. Bear Creek is less than 45 minutes from most western suburbs and about an hour from the city. It’s become a popular total resort for nighttime skiers and riders who want to stay overnight at the resort lodge or just head out for a night of snow play followed by drinks and dinner at The Grille. Evening lift tickets here are discounted to $37 any night. If you’re over 70 and still on skis – and I was, the ticket is on the house.
With a combination of 39 slopes, trails and terrain parks, Blue Mountain can boast all of them are lighted for night skiing and riding. Blue has become one of the most active snow sport spots close to the city and suburbs with a big mountain feel. Night tickets for any evening can be bought on line for $30. Blue is a frequent nighttime gathering spot for regional ski clubs and their races. The bars and eateries are lively – perfect for unwinding after a day in the office.
Big Boulder is the night skiing and Terrain Park centric half of the sister mountains Jack Frost and BB. Frost runs by day and is noted for it’s steep, challenging East Mountain, it’s versatile learning terrain and youth racing program. But when the sun goes down, the lights fire up over the young riders who take on the jumps and rails in Boulders dynamic parks. Night tickets at Boulder are $30 midweek and $35 on weekends. If you want to ski Frost by day and ride BB at night, one ticket is good for both. Check the prices.
Thirty-seven slopes, trails and terrain parks are all lit up for night skiing that ranges from broad, dedicated beginner slopes to nose-dive steep headwalls for double black diamond skiers and riders. Midweek adult nighttime tags go for $39, Weekends are $41 with discounts all week for juniors and seniors. If you’re 70 and up, it’s on the house. After the runs, Camelback has a collection of bars and eateries, but the entertainment and high energy are on tap at the “Thirsty Camel”.
Shawnee has a long tradition and reputation as a family friendly mountain with 23 slopes and trails along with a pair of terrain parks. The entire mountain is under the lights for night skiing and riding. The trail network is designed for novice through advancing intermediates with a quartet of black diamonds. Night skiing tix are priced at $35 from 3pm till lights-out. The 70 plus crowd plays without charge. And when the skis and boards have been racked, head to the lodge and “Hickory Licks” for eats and tipples.
The artificial illumination provides constant light to provide the same terrain view on every run. No cloud cover or blazing sun to obscure or shadow the contours.
Temperatures do drop but so does the wind. At times the chill factor can be more comfortable.
The slopes are less crowded, but could sprout more icy patches. Take care.