By: Lyndsie Smyser
With the several feet of snow that have dumped on State College throughout the past month, many Penn State skiers and snowboarders are itching to hit the slopes. Many students, like me, are probably looking to escape the confines of Tussey Mountain, which, no matter what their Web site might say, only has four actual slopes.
While many students make the two to three hour drive to the Poconos or to Seven Springs, near Pittsburgh to go skiing on the weekends there is somewhere closer that they may not even know about. Blue Knob All Season Resort is only an hour drive from State College, just outside of Altoona. Their slogan, “Pennsylvania’s Best Kept Secret,” is very fitting. The first time I went there, I was sure that we had to be lost. Winding country roads take you through fields and up a steep mountain. If you are going right after a snowstorm, I highly recommend 4-wheel drive. On our way there, snowdrifts covered so much of the road that only one car could fit by at a time. When we arrived, the lodge looked more like a log cabin than a ski resort.
Blue Knob boasts the most difficult terrain in Pennsylvania. When we hit the slopes, we weren’t disappointed. We noticed some signs that said “Glades” with a picture of a double black diamond and headed straight for them. It was the first time that I had ever seen glades in Pennsylvania. Granted the trees weren’t terribly close together and the trails weren’t very long, but we were skiing in trees in Pennsylvania! It was powdery too; in fact at some points my skis were sinking in powder. That has only ever happened to me when skiing out west. Blue Knob has six glades ranging in ability levels, the most difficult of which is East Wall Glades.
To the far skiers right of the mountain is the Stembogan Bowl. Again, I have only ever seen a bowl out west. It wasn’t Vail, but it was big, steep, and covered in moguls. As a mogul lover, I was in heaven. They were everywhere at Blue Knob. Upper Extrovert is a great one, steep with large, even moguls. The powdery conditions allowed me to easily bounce from mogul to mogul down the hill.
For terrain park fans, Blue Knob’s isn’t fantastic, but it does provide a variety of different features including jumps and rails. I myself am not too skilled in the terrain park, so I was able to entertain myself on the box rail and a small jump.
From glades to moguls to terrain parks and rolling groomers Blue Knob has something for every skier or rider. It was by far the best skiing I have ever done in Pennsylvania, and was possibly the best conditions I have skied in all year, even better than Killington, Whiteface, Tremblant and Stowe.
With only about a month of ski season left, there is still plenty of snow on the ground. I saw on Blue Knob’s Web site (www.blueknob.com) that starting on March 8, they will be having a half off special on lift tickets. That is a pretty good deal, and I highly recommend that Penn State students check it out. I know I will.