Seven Springs Ski Resort ski conditions were much more pleasant today than either of the last two days. The skies were sunny, there was a little more natural snow on the ground and the crowds were still manageable though there was a big jam-up at the loading area for the 6-pack lift. The 6-Pack takes skiers from the Wagner Bowl area outside the main ski lodge up to the top of Fawn Lane where they can then ski over to the North Face area (“back side”) of the mountain. Once over onto the back side the crowds and lift lines were much more reasonable. By skiing directly from the parking lot to the back side of the mountain made it possible to skip this big lift line.
The day started out with a nice drive from the Export, PA area up through Greensburg and onto Seven Springs. Going through Greensburg is the “back way” around all the toll roads. It provides a much more scenic route up to 7 Springs Ski Resort though it does take a little bit longer to get up there. There are more turns and stops and the roads tend to be 2-lane instead of 4 or 6-lane. The “back way” up to 7 Springs Ski Resort through Greensburg also tends to get less attention from the road crews. After the initial clearing of the streets, the heavy snowfall often blows back out into the street. During the day the snowdrifts are not a big deal, however the drive back late at night is better suited for the toll roads.
After sitting in a big traffic jam at the main entrance to 7 Springs Ski Resort yesterday, the back entrance was opted for today. The Seven Springs “7 Pass” was used to get a lift ticket on the way into the ski resort and skiing could begin right from the parking lot w/o having to go down to the lift ticket counter or season ski pass area. With just a few careful steps across pavement, the entire parking lot could be skied right over to Lost Boy Trail on the backside of the mountain.
Lost Boy is a nice easy trail to start the day, get warmed up and see some nice sights during the first run. It tends not to be very crowded, offers nice views and passes a large terrain park area so skiers and boarders can check out the features before heading down through the terrain park. Today was especially nice with bright sunny skies and much lighter winds than yesterday. Once at the bottom the slopes were relatively un-crowded and it took just a minute or two to get back on the North Face quad chair lift.
The ride up the North Face quad chair provides nice views of a good portion of the backside of the mountain at 7 Springs. Giant Steps looked to be in good shape with absolutely nobody waiting to get on the Giant Steps lift. After a couple runs down North Face Slope, Giant Steps was next up. The Giant steps lift line remained short and it was easy to get in fat laps on both Giant Steps and North Face Slope! As the afternoon crept on the lift lines on the backside remained fairly short with the exception of the Gunnar Chair.
Despite the lift lines at the Gunnar Chair the terrain serviced by the Gunnar Chair is some of the best at 7 Springs Ski resort so it can’t be skipped! Most of the lift lines at 7 Springs have entrances on the right and left sides. Usually one side is much shorter than the other so if you plan your runs carefully and look at the lift line chances are you can cut your lift line wait times by about 50% if you go to the side with the shorter lift line! Gunnar is no different. Generally if you go to the right side of the Gunnar lift line (when looking down the hill) you will cut your wait time by around 50%!
All the slopes and trails that can be reached by the Gunnar Chair were covered edge to edge and generally in good shape. Gunnar Slope is always a favorite of the locals and people who ski Seven Springs Ski Resort a lot. Yodeler is a new(er) slope (within the last 10 years) right next to Gunnar that provides a pretty good ride. Lost Girl is the easy way down from the Gunnar lift and provides a nice long run with a number of routes to hop off the trail onto more difficult terrain. With enough natural snow, glade (tree) skiing is accessible from this area of the mountain as well.
After lots of runs on Giant Steps, Gunnar and all the slopes and trails in that same general area including Yodeler and Turtle Claw, 4:30pm was fast approaching and with it the closing time for the slopes and trails serviced by the Gunnar and Giant Steps chairs on the back side of the mountain. The lift lines at the Gunnar Chair were also starting to get longer and longer so it was the perfect time to stop in the Tahoe Lodge at the top of the mountain and warm up a little bit.
After warming up the sun was setting and the time had come to head over to the front side of the mountain to tackle the bumps on Goosebumps, Avalanche and Tyrol. The winds were much more calm today and the temperatures just a tad bit warmer. The ski pass was good till at least 7pm (the passes from the Seven Springs “7 card” don’t have any times on them) so a nice evening of banging the bumps lie ahead.
Goosebumps still had the best bumps in the resort and nobody was skiing there. The Avalanche lift was starting to get crowded but like the Gunnar Chair, a little advanced planning would lead one to the left side of the lift (looking down the mountain) where the lift line was almost non-existent! At about 4 minutes to get up the hill and anywhere between 2 and 5 minutes to get down, between 6 and 10 runs per hour was possible. Net to the bumps on Goosebumps, Tyrol was second best and Avalanche 3rd best.
Stowe slope, where the best bumps on the mountain are usually located was one big sheet of ice and no bumps had yet formed there. At 7pm, it was time to call it a day and head into the Goggle. Being a Tuesday, the old 7 Springs gang was not around. Most if not all the familiar faces were back in Pittsburgh slaving away at work waiting for the next workday holiday, New Years Eve Day. The Foggy Goggle was mostly empty which is unusual for any night between Christmas and New Years but there were a few people watching the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team beat up on an opponent.
After watching the 1st period of the hockey game in the Foggy Goggle the shuttle bus was a quick ride up to the upper parking lot. Unlike last night the wait for the bus was just a few minutes, there were very few stops and it took a total of about 15 minutes from arrival at the bus stop to arrival at the car way, way up in the upper parking lot. The drive home was smooth along the PA Turnpike and another Toll Road. Tomorrow would be a day off from skiing to rest and spend with the family back in the Pittsburgh area.