a lot of what other people have written holds true. getting there is beautiful and not the easiest. the lodge is rustic. the staff needs to better identifiable, but friendly. the lifts are slow triples.
on sunday, january 31, 2010, after a 6-8 inch snow, i ventured up. after one wrong turn and an hour delay in getting there -- i made it. and then i saw lines. my mood was not improving. nevertheless, got my ticket...got in the singles line, and what do you know in less than 15 minutes (10 minute lift), i was strapped in and headed into the terrain.
TERRAIN -- upper thunderdraft is a double black diamond that compares to most single black diamonds in vermont. fair enough, still good. i must apologize for not doing any blue square or green circle trails (other than using salamander to get to double black diamond terrain and into the trees). OFF THE WALL is steep in sections. THE DROP was disappointing for me as they must have blown a ton of snow before the storm, leaving a series of spines all the way down the trail. it wasn't like a trail, but more like a boardercross setup (not into that). both of these trail with regular moguls would be FANTASTIC. they would not need anything more. i'm guessing that with the rapidly changing weather of the mid-atlantic, they may have to groom out moguls to keep the trails open more regularly (???).
TREE SKIING -- THE BEST GLADES SOUTH OF ALBANY, NY!!! and a huge amount of them, not on the trail map as glades. just ski the trees between the trails. i would advise to pick when you go carefully. later in the season or after a good snow for coverage is recommended. as good as it was after 6-8 inches, a foot or more must make this place ridiculous. any woods, skier's left of upper silver streak all the way to the far reaches of salamander, are where it is at. only one area is closed, but it didn't stop a lot of people from going into it. a local on the lift said it used to be a cherry orchard that was poorly cut down and they never followed up to return it to being usable terrain. it was too late in the day for me to follow all the others who ignored the closed sign. but it definitely looked like some of the best terrain on the mountain might be hidden in it. i didn't even get to trees skiers right of the lifts...
the one critique i would give is this -- t-line needs to do more maintenance on their glades. some fallen trees should stay and some need to go. to really improve the glades, trees do not need to be cut down, but a lot of low branches need to be pruned. a few of the small sapling could be removed, but the real focus needs to be on low hanging branches. not all of them, but a lot of them would really open up lots of lines that already exist.
LIFTS -- TWO TRIPLES that go to the top (one has midstation dump out). use the singles line and meet at top to save time on busy days. even on a crowded sunday, 5-7 minute wait. the other lift is for beginners. there is a rope tow for the terrain park.
TERRAIN PARK -- this is a perfect park for beginners. two boxes, one rail, and one jump -- with the rope tow. i actually did several runs through it and enjoyed it.
STAFFING -- need consistent uniforms for ease of identification of staff and department (i.e. instructors). nice overall, but not striving to take care of customers.
LODGE -- rustic is fine, but not adequate in size for a sunday. i think a new, bigger lodge would be a good investment, especially as more people find out about this place. oh, and you couldn't bring own food in...again, not putting customers (should be clients) first.
GETTING THERE -- not easy, but worth it. if you are coming from the DC baltimore area and you get to the seneca rocks three-way stop sign, TURN RIGHT. there are some serious grades in the roads (7,9 & 10 percent). if you have ever driven up to hunter mountain in ny, parts of the road are much the same only much longer in length. be prepared to do some tough driving if the roads are not good. when the roads are clean, it's a nice scenic drive in the mountains.
FINAL THOUGHTS -- this is only the second spot in the mid-atlantic i really like (see other reviews). i will pick when i go based on conditions for tree skiing...i do think this is probably a good mountain for a family that already skis, as there is probably enough for everyone. i did not look at there programs or any of the ski school stuff -- they do have terrain that appeared to be set up solely for learning...i think a couple of days visit is in order for the travel required, unless to catch a powder day...and i think i'll try and beat any storm there i'm chasing.