From left, Sarah Esterow, '18, Taylor Airo, '18, and Biannca Smissen, '18, take a break from a ski run on Saturday at Blue Mountain. During the winter season, Lehigh students travel to local public ski resorts to go skiing and snowboarding. (Courtesy of Taylor Airo)

Local mountains provide space for skiers, snowboarders

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During the long winter months at Lehigh, students often look for fun activities to take advantage of the cold weather. For many, skiing and snowboarding provides an escape from schoolwork and the boundaries of campus.

One of the benefits of Lehigh’s location is its close proximity to public ski resorts. This makes it easy for students to drive with a group of friends on a weekend and experience Pennsylvania’s scenic mountain views.

Jasper Brinkmann, ’20, said he often goes to Blue Mountain in Palmerton because he is familiar with it, as well as Big Boulder in the Poconos. He said this is an upgrade from his attempts to snowboard at home in Philadelphia.

“Snowboarding in Philly was basically grabbing a board and trying to find any inclined surface, whether it be the art museum stairs or a random school that was closed due to snow,” Brinkmann said. “At Lehigh, I have a lot more options in terms of actual legal snowboarding and real mountains.”

Brinkmann has already gone snowboarding five times this winter season because of Lehigh’s convenient distance from Blue Mountain and Big Boulder.

Some students have visited local ski resorts to continue practicing the winter sports they enjoyed in their hometowns.

Charlie Baldwin, ’20, has been skiing since he was 7 years old. He went to Blue Mountain ski resort this winter but admits the ski style in Pennsylvania is not the same as his home slopes.

“I’m from Colorado, so it’s a lot different,” Baldwin said. “There is real snow, more terrain, runs, back bowls, uncharted or ‘out of bounds’ areas, and glades (at home).”

Emma Zachary, ’20, went skiing at Blue Mountain for the first time this winter during school. She usually skis with her family in Vermont and said it was nice to be so close to the Pocono Mountains.

“Three of my friends and I drove together one afternoon for the night skiing session,” Zachary said. “It was cool to get away from campus and do something different.”

For beginners looking to take up skiing or snowboarding or simply wanting to continue their passion for winter sports, the Lehigh ski and snowboard club welcomes new students each year and travels to Blue Mountain during the spring semester.

Here are some of the local mountains Lehigh students can visit:

Bear Creek Mountain Resort

Located in Macungie, Bear Creek features more than 86 acres of land boasting 23 trails, ranging from beginner to advanced black diamonds. There is also a mountainside lodge and hotel resort for those who want to make a weekend trip.

Distance from Lehigh: 37 minutes (19.2 miles)
Slope hours: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: An adult four-hour ticket costs $45 on weekdays and $59 on weekends.

Big Boulder Resort

Big Boulder, located in the Pocono Mountains, gives skiers and snowboarders access to two mountains: Jack Frost and Big Boulder. Jack Frost has 20 trails and Big Boulder has 15 trails. For skiers and snowboarders who specialize in performing tricks, 50 percent of Big Boulder is comprised of terrain parks.

Distance from Lehigh: 1 hour (51.4 miles)
Slope Hours: Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: An adult one-day lift ticket costs $50 on weekdays and $60 on weekends.

Blue Mountain Resort

Blue Mountain, located in Palmerton, offers varied terrain and 39 trails for skiing and snowboarding. It is recommended for families and has extensive beginner trails. For the more experienced individuals, there is a 3,000-foot double black diamond trail and five terrain parks.

Distance from Lehigh: 40 minutes (22.5 miles)
Slope Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Price: An eight-hour lift ticket costs $52 on weekdays and $62 on weekends.

Camelback Mountain

Located in Tannersville, Camelback has snow-making ability on all 166 acres of terrain. The resort captures winter fun with 37 trails that range in difficulty.

Distance from Lehigh: 52 minutes (43.4 miles)
Slope Hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: An adult one-day lift ticket costs $53 on weekdays and $67 on weekends.

Shawnee Mountain Ski Area

Shawnee Mountain, located in the Pocono Mountains, has 23 trails, which are 50 percent intermediate, 25 percent expert and 25 percent beginner. There are two terrain parks and snow tubing trails for those looking for other snow options.

Distance: 56 minutes (46.5 miles)
Slope Hours: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Price: An adult 1-day lift ticket costs $55 on weekdays and $65 on weekends.

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