Pathetic Grooming of Slopes vs. Over the Hill discount pass

by: charlie1939 - Jan 9, 2011

  • Overall Rating 3
  • Family Friendly 3
  • All-Mtn. Terrain 3
  • Terrain Park 4
  • Nightlife 0

    Pros: Close to Pittsburgh, Over the Hill Gang discount pass

    Cons: Extraordinarly Poor Grooming

    Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters

    Date Visited: Jan 1, 2011

Full review

First the major Cons.....
1. Pathetic Grooming:
My biggest beef is with the very poor grooming of the ski slopes. There are ridges between each groomer track on a slope, un-leveled humps of man-made snow under the snowguns (we call them "whale backs"), occasional big ice chunks in the trail, irregular levels between groomer tracks as you look across the slope, etc. Ever since the Nutting's (owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates) bought Seven Springs a few years ago, the grooming has gone from pretty decent to awful! I thought it would improve as the neophyte groomer operators gained experience, but it looks like as soon as an operator gets some experience and starts doing a decent job, he quits or is fired. The newly hired operators are probably farmers looking for winter employment and are only skilled in plowing a straight furrow in their fields for spring planting.
2. Lift tickets are pricey
Lift tickets are a bit on the pricey side, weekdays $47/37, weekends $63/47 day tix, Adult/Child vs. Hidden Valley a few miles away with less vertical (500'), slower lifts and generally less challenging terrain, but a great place for families teaching kids to ski or board at weekdays with all ages at $28 M-Th, $32 F and weekends $50/40 Sa, $45/35 Su for Adult/Child
3. Food is exorbitantly priced: $6+ for a burger, $4.50 for a hot dog, etc.
Now the major good things...
1. Over the Hill Gang discount pass
Among the good things at Seven Springs are the "Over the Hill Gang", a deal for those 55 and over. It includes a 1/2 price lift ticket only available if you are in the southwest corner of the main lodge by 9:30 to sign in and get your voucher for the lift ticket discount. With the voucher, you go down to the day ticket office and buy your ticket. Then you must be ready to leave at 10 sharp to ski with a skill level determined groups of fellow geezers for the morning. Each group includes a leader familiar with that day's terrain quality. This program is only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays during January and February. It is a golden opportunity for anyone of the age group to ski with others of similar skill level (self selected for "very fast", "fast", "not so fast" and "slow"). Most of the participants are retirees and normally may not have anyone with whom to ski. The BIG bonus is the chit for a FREE coffee or hot chocolate that is either distributed by the leader when you take a break to go in for refreshments and warm up in mid-morning or at the end of the morning.
2. Weekday Skiing Uncrowded
Other good thing, it is not crowded during the week in the morning and early afternoon, before school groups arrive. Lift lines are generally non-existent or very short.
3. High Speed Lifts
There are two high speed lifts that service the "Front" side by the lodge and the hotel and another on the "North Side" which services the more challenging and longer slopes.
4. Variety of Terrain
There are a good variety of runs for different skill levels and are generally available from each lift, so no beginner is stuck with nothing but an expert run to get down the hill. Just as at most small areas, there are no really difficult runs by western standards, the black diamond runs are fairly challenging.
5. Vertical Drop
The vertical is about 750 feet and for this area near Pittsburgh is about as good as it can get for about a 100 mile radius. The nearest area (75 miles further) with greater vertical is Blue Knob in Claysburg, PA, which has a greater vertical at over 1000 feet.
6. Staff
Generally the staff is either helpful or, at worst, not aggravating to the skiers and boarders.