The North Face. That's pretty much it, folks, except for a few short, steep pitches here and there. The North Face offers experts good skiing, but it is limited. The vertical rise is barely 1,000 feet a little short for my tastes. Also for my tastes, the ski area makes too much snow on the North Face. Why not leave one of the three more-or-less parallel steepies Ripcord, Jaws of Death, Plummet as a natural-snow trail? This is, after all, a northern-facing slope, where natural snow can stay fresher longer. Whatever manufactured snow is the predominant surface here, and it can get slick.
A large dosage of comedy pervades the North Face, due to the fact that it tends to attract skiers (young skiers in particular) who are not nearly the masters of this terrain that they imagine themselves to be. I understand what inflates their assessment of their own abilities: With confidence soaring after cruising the front, they come to the North Face certain that they can ski anything. Free Fall. . . Jaws of Death. . . no problem!
Without question, Comedy Central is Free Fall, which runs under the Challenger lift. Lift lines have a way of attracting show-offs, and typically imagined ability far exceeds reality. So Comedy Central that is, Free Fall is typically strewn with skiers in various states of dishevelment and disarray. That makes for a good show when you're riding the lift, but it also makes for lousy skiing too many skiers and terribly formed moguls. That's why I prefer neighboring Plummet, which has a nice variation in its pitch and fall line before funneling into a bottleneck near the bottom.
Another good trail that is virtually unskied is P.D.F., which branches to the right off of Free Fall. Part of the reason for its relative anonymity is the obscurity of its entry. If you aren't hugging the right of Free Fall and if you aren't on the lookout about a third of the way down, chances are good you'll miss the trail opening, as many people do. If you do find it, you'll be rewarded with skiing devoid of the hard moguls and crowds on Free Fall.
One more under-skied gem is Challenger, largely because its entry, too, can be tough to spot a little slip between the two North Face lifts. Hard-to-find and narrow maybe those are the reasons Challenger sees relatively few skiers. Narrow, a little windy, generally with fresh snow, with few moguls maybe those are the reasons Challenger is attractive to me. It does however, dump you in the end onto the last steep mogul face of Free Fall, although I've found that if you work your way across the trail and take the trail fork branching away right of the lift, you're apt to find softer snow.
Fallen Timbers is another neat trail, partly because as you begin to ski it, the exposure offers a terrific view to the northwest and Somerset Reservoir. In most places, the trail is wide enough so that part of the trail can be groomed, part can be allowed to turn to moguls. Groomed or bumps? On Fallen Timbers, you can have a little of both, making it perhaps the best trail to start out on when you venture over to this side of the mountain.
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