- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

CARROLL VALLEY, Pa. — Need a break from the frenzy of the holidays? Take a day for yourself and go skiing. It’s a guaranteed tension buster and a remedy for the pressures of the season.

That’s what I learned last week at Liberty Mountain Resort. Time spent on the mountain gliding over freshly made snow washed away all the issues and concerns of the work-a-day world — if just for a few hours.

“Isn’t this great? I love it up here,” said Anne Weimer, Liberty’s marketing coordinator and my guide for the morning. We had skied a dozen or so yards away from Liberty’s quad chairlift and stood quietly taking in the neat farms and villages in the broad valley below.

“You’re on top of the world — you can see everything,” Weimer said almost reverently. “You come up here and all your worries melt away.”

We glided down a broad, easy (green) trail from the top reveling in the sunshine that filtered through high clouds. The air temperature was in the 40s and it was actually a few degrees cooler at the base then at the top of the mountain. “That’s a temperature inversion, and it’s common here,” said Weimer.

The temperature is rarely an issue at Liberty. Situated a long snowball throw north of the Mason-Dixon line, the resort’s daytime temperatures hover in the 30s and 40s for much of the winter. At night, the temperatures drop into the 20s and teens, perfect for making snow, usually after the lifts close at 10p.m. Liberty’s snowmaking system delivers enough to allow the resort to stay open most years until mid-March.

The mile-long Dipsy Doodle trail we were on is the longest run at Liberty and gives new skiers and snowboarders a chance to ski from the top. It is the third step in Liberty’s progressive learning system.

The first step is a gently inclined meadow, the First Class area, to the left of the base buildings. There, anyone new to skiing or snowboarding learns the techniques and gains the skills needed to move up the mountain.

The second step is negotiating the Dipsy Double chairlift that goes halfway up the mountain and opens up the lower portion of the Dipsy Doodle trail.

Once that area is mastered, skiers and riders are ready to take on the quad chair and ride to the top.

For accomplished skiers, the back side of the mountain has four long runs that are ranked blue and black and are serviced by two quad chairs. In all, Liberty has 16 trails, four quad chairlifts, a double chair, two moving carpets for the beginner area and a J-bar to service the terrain park. The terrain park covers six acres and is adjacent to a 500-foot halfpipe.

Tucked away in its own little corner of the mountain is Boulder Ridge tubing park, with 10 lanes, three tows and its own lodge. There is no access to Boulder Ridge from Liberty’s ski trails and a shuttle continuously runs from the base area to the park.

Liberty’s proximity to the District and hourly ticketing system makes getting away for some slope time that much more attractive and doable.

“Our four-hour Flex Ticket is the key,” said Weimer. “We open at 9a.m. during the week and you can come up here, get on the fresh snow, even make first tracks. You can ski a few hours, and be back in your office after lunch.”

Weekday mornings are the best time to escape to Liberty. There are so few people on the slope it seems like you’re skiing at your own private club. And three to four hours of constant skiing is about all most people can handle.

The mid-week, four-hour Flex Ticket is $34. Couple the Flex Ticket with Liberty’s Advantage Card ($84) and the price comes down to $20.40.

About 60 miles north of the District, Liberty is a little more than an hour’s drive from the center of town by way of Interstate 270 and Route 15. In Emmitsburg, Md., take Routes 140/16 north into Pennsylvania. Liberty is off Route 116. For information, 717/642-8282; snow report 717/642-9000; skiliberty.com.

Wisp extends ski day — The ski day just got longer at Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort, McHenry, Md. Slopes open at 7:30a.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, an hour and a half earlier then in previous seasons.

A special, $20 ticket is needed for the 90 minutes of slope-time that Wisp is calling First Tracks. Every season pass and multi-day ticket includes First Tracks and for an additional $10, skiers and riders can add First Tracks to a daily lift ticket. Contact: 301/387-4911; skiwisp.com.

Snowshoe celebrates — Snowshoe Mountain Resort, in West Virginia, will celebrate the Christmas holiday through Dec.31. Attractions in the village and on the mountain include crafts, movies, live entertainment, a scavenger hunt and a visit from Santa Claus.

For the new year, Snowshoe has scheduled a New Year’s Eve Bash and for those under 21, there will be a 1920s theme party. Price is $25 in advance, $30 the night of the event. Contact: 877/441-4386; snowshoemtn.com.

Timberline caters to students — College students get discounts on lift tickets, lessons and rentals on Thursdays at Timberline Four Seasons Resort, Davis, W.Va. Lift tickets are $13, rentals $10 and lessons $13.

Timberline will celebrate the new year with a New Year’s Eve party. Contact: 800/766-9464, snow conditions 304/866-4801; timberlineresort.com.

Snow Sports appears on Sundays in The Washington Times during the winter. Contact: [email protected]

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