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First Trax :: Daily News

Conditions Continue to Be Top Notch

02.16.11 07:40 AM

Happy Hump Day! It’s Wednesday and we are almost halfway done with the work week folks. It’s going to be another great day on the slopes for all the lucky individuals who make it out to the resorts today. Bluebird skies and temperatures in the 40’s will make for some awesome riding conditions. All of the resorts are looking in great shape this morning.  Cataloochee and Wintergreen were even able to makes some snow last night so kudos to them!


Part of my job entails making sure that the web cameras are up and running and yesterday I caught myself being slightly jealous of the people who I saw out there riding. Conditions are just so good right now. Before I graduated, I was able to usually get in at least one day of riding during the week and avoid the weekend crowds. I am still able to go at night, but nothing beats a day on the mountain with sunny skies and no lift lines. I can’t complain though, I have an AWESOME job and love coming to work everyday.


Beech looks great this morning.  Looking at images like this all day makes>>> me want to get out there!


I read a post on the messageboard yesterday afternoon about a girl who tragically passed away last weekend after succumbing to head injuries sustained in a skiing accident in West Virginia. I feel like over the past couple of seasons I’ve heard of more and more accidents involving head injuries and a lot of the people involved in them weren’t wearing helmets. While there has been a visible increase in recent years in the amount of people who wear them, there is still a large group who don’t feel the need for them. A number of resorts in the country now require employees to wear helmets and this past fall California almost passed a bill that would have required anyone under the age of 18 to wear one while skiing or riding. While I think it’s going a little overboard to force people into wearing a helmet, I’ve never understood why you wouldn’t choose to wear a helmet. I’ve been snowboarding for four or five years now and there have only been a few instances where I didn’t have one on while I was riding. I’ve even persuaded my friends and girlfriend to start wearing them, and I’m glad I did so as I’ve seen a few of them hit their head pretty hard (even knock themselves out in one case). While I’d like to think I pull off the helmet look pretty well, I know they are not the most stylish of accessories. However, what they lack in style they more than make up for in functionality. Not even including safety, the benefits of helmets include the fact that you don't have to go chasing after your goggles if you fall hard, your head will stay nice and dry and warm, and mine even have earphones built into the liner.  I guess what I’m trying to say in this little rant is that you should really consider getting a helmet if you already haven't. You might thank me one day!

Alright, now it's time for the resort rundown…

Ober Gatlinburg - 45° - Open on 100% of the mountain with a groomed surface. Ober is once again looking to be in great shape this morning. The camera they have set up for this season is one of my favorite that we have. It gives a really great view of the bottom part of the mountain. You can view it here. They don’t open until noon again today so it’s perfect for those who want to sleep in but still make first chair. Tubing is also open today beginning at 11 am.

Wisp Resort - 37°- Open on 100% of the mountain with a groomed surface. Today is Local’s Day where everyone is considered a local! Among other specials, an extended day lift ticket is only $21! That is an incredible deal. Tubing is also open.

Snowshoe Mountain - 30°- They are open on 100% of the mountain today with a groomed surface. As usual, I like to let you guys read what their daily comments are as they say it best - "Mother Nature continues to play nice so far this week. We've now had two days in a row of beautiful daytime sunshine and mild temperatures, followed by overnight lows that dip below freezing. If we can't have a foot or so of fresh powder, these are pretty much IDEAL ski conditions. Who doesn't love carving up soft packed powder and fighting a goggle tan, only to do it again the next morning on a perfectly groomed, re-hardened surface? The answer should be NO ONE doesn't like that, because it makes for almost perfect skiing and riding! And it looks like we have another such day on tap today. Temperatures will reach the mid-40s today, but overnight they'll drop back down into the 30s. We may not quite reach the freezing mark tonight, but that's not a big deal, as it should still be cold enough to get our expert grooming team out to work their magic and have that snow re-harden overnight. Tomorrow may be a slightly different story, as temperatures will rise just a bit more, but Friday we may even see a flurry overnight and temperatures, especially overnight, will start to become a little more seasonable over the weekend. But we'll still have plenty of sunshine and awesome on snow conditions throughout the weekend.

We wish we didn't have to keep talking about the weather, but we know lots of you out there are interested, and maybe even worried. The past few days we have seen temperatures that are a bit above normal for mid-February, but just last week we had 8" of fresh snow fall, and we saw more snow on Saturday and Monday afternoon. We've had almost 11 FEET of natural snowfall this season at Snowshoe, and we've made LOTS AND LOTS more. In fact, although we're in a mild spell right now, we've actually seen fewer freeze/thaw cycles this season than in a normal winter. We kicked off the season with a deep freeze and the coldest December in 30 years. That allowed us to make snow almost around the clock, plus it seemed Mother Nature dumped snow on us almost every day. We started off the New Year with the first thaw of the season, but temperatures quickly righted themselves and we saw lots more cold and snow, allowing for overnight snowmaking and strategic additions to our already deep snow base. February hasn't seen much in the way of natural snowfall, but it certainly hasn't been warm. There is still snow in the trees, and on grassy areas and parking lots around the resort. And there is A TON of snow on the slopes. Our snowmaking and grooming team are the best they've ever been, and we have base depths of 4-10 feet across the resort. And remember, that base has been built up for the specific purpose of handling periodic thaws and skier traffic--it's not like the snow that falls in your backyard. We adjust air and water content to literally build and fuse a snow base. And that base will probably be lingering in some places until at least June. So if you have plans to head to the mountain this week or next--or even into March--you'll be treated to some absolutely fantastic conditions, just don't forget to pack the sunblock! We'll be updating the website later today with more information from our snowmaking and grooming manager, and when you're on the mountain, don't forget to stop by our Snowmaking and Grooming 101 session, every Saturday night at the Depot. Learn more about how we make all this snow and keep it looking so good all year long!

Last night our grooming team was able to get out and give some TLC to everything but Lower Shay's and Sawmill Glades. That means we'll have a beautifully groomed surface for your carving pleasure this morning, as well as some fun bumps on Lower Shay's. Once again last night we had our cool new winch cat machine out and about, working on the steeps of Knot Bumper, Grabhammer, and Gandy. We know we're being repetitive for those of you that read the report daily, but we want to make sure everyone hears about this amazing machine that allows our groomers to push snow UP slope! So all of the snow that's naturally pushed down to the base of the mountain by skier traffic is able to be returned to the slope and groomed back into the base. Even just a few days of working with this machine will help us ensure our steepest sections don't start showing thin spots anytime soon! We'll continue to use it across the mountain over the next few nights, concentrating on our highest traffic areas and steepest slopes. And the timing couldn't be better; for the most part the biggest change on the slope due to this mild weather will be softer snow that's more dramatically pushed to the base of the mountain. With the winch cat we'll be able to return that snow to where it's needed most!

Canaan Resort - 37°- Open today on 38 of 39 slopes with a groomed surface. Tubing and cross country skiing or snowshoeing are also open today.

Timberline - 37°- They are open on 38 of 39 trails today. Messageboard member NCSUsKING posted a trip report from there yesterday, and conditions look pretty sweet! The backcountry is also open today.

Winterplace - 36°- Open today on 100% of the mountain. They are reporting no new snow this morning but I’m almost positive that they did have about half an inch of new snow to fall yesterday. Both of their terrain parks are open and they will have tubing sessions today.

Bryce Resort - 35°- Open today on 100% of the mountain with a groomed surface. They will have night skiing as well as tubing today, starting at 6 pm.

Massanutten - 40°- Open today on 100% of the mountain with loose granular conditions. Both terrain parks are open with a number of features set up. Tubing is also open today from 9am to 9pm with 8 lanes of fun!

Wintergreen - 33° - Open today on 100% of the mountain and once again they did make snow overnight! They will have night skiing tonight, and tubing will open at 2pm today. Their terrain park also continues to be top notch.

Appalachian Ski Mountain - 45°- Open today on all 12 slopes with a groomed surface. They have a new page on their website that will keep you up to date on the current terrain park features set up on the mountain, so if that’s your thing make sure to check it out before heading to the mountain. As always, conditions at App will be great. Ice skating is also open.

Beech Mountain Resort - 29°- Open today on 100% of the mountain with a groomed surface. The terrain park is open with a multitude of fun features. Ice skating is also open today. I was up there last night and I can tell you firsthand that conditions are great up there right now.

Cataloochee – 34.3°- They are open on 100% of the mountain with a groomed surface today. They did make snow last night and I applaud them for that! Conditions should be top notch today. Today is Family Day at Cat. Any child 17 and under will receive a free lift ticket when accompanied by a parent purchasing a full price adult day, twilight, or night lift ticket. That’s a pretty sweet deal! Tubing will reopen on Thursday at 4pm. Just a reminder that it's Learn to Ski and Snowboard Season at Cataloochee and with the purchase of rentals you get a free 1.5 hour beginner lesson!

Sapphire Valley - 28°- Open today on 100% of the mountain. Tubing is also open and they will have night skiing tonight. Don’t forget that Sapphire Valley will be hosting their Annual Outhouse Races this weekend!

Sugar Mountain – 29°- Open today on 100% of the mountain with a perfectly groomed surface. It should be great skiing and riding as always up there. Skating and tubing are also open.

Wolf Ridge - 33° - Open on 13 of 23 slopes today with a groomed surface. Here’s what they have to say: “Its Wednesday, 33 degrees on the mountain and the weather man is calling for partly cloudy skies today. We will have 13 runs and 2 lifts open along with just our bottom Lodge for all ticket and rental purchases. The Upper Lodge will be closed this week and will reopen Friday at 4.30pm. Today is our Home Schooler Day: lift/ski/lesson package as well as our Ladies Night Out: Lift ticket $17.00. Get here early and be the first to Shred the snow. See you at the Wolf!!

Well that’s all I have for today. Send me photos, stories, or any questions to and enjoy your Wednesday!

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