– Story by Blake Couch for SkiSoutheast.com / SkiNC.com
BC: Today (Sunday) you hosted your annual Can U Ski Food and Coat drive program. How did that get started?
CB: Several years ago, we were trying to figure out something that we could do for the local charities and incorporate free skiing into it. What we came up with was that the fact that the county’s less fortunate had a big need for canned food right before the holidays, and Haywood Christian Ministries seemed to have the largest need at that time.
BC: Obviously, it is a great deal for everyone involved. The skiers get a free day on the snow, Haywood Christian Ministries gets a substantial donation, and you guys get the satisfaction of doing something good for the local community.
CB: Yeah, it gives us the opportunity to give something back to the community. It also allows everyone in the community to give something back, and we have had our best turnout ever today.
BC: There are definitely a lot of people at Cataloochee today.
CB: Yeah, I figure we have about 20,000 cans of food right now and about 2,000 guests on the mountain for day skiing.
BC: On a slightly different note, what aree your thoughts on this great early season opening?
CB: It is always nice to start out strong. We have more terrain open now than ever before at this point in the season. It was nice to get going in October. That is something that we had wanted to do for a long time, and it all came together this year.
BC: How many times have you guys been open for skiing in October?
CB: We have never made snow in October before this year. Our earliest opening prior to this year was November 2nd and 3rd a few years ago. This has been a first for us, and I have never skied in October before.
BC: How aggressive are you guys going to be in opening up the new terrain that was never opened last season?
CB: We are going to try to make snow on in it at the first opportunity. Right now, our goal is to get 2 trails from the top of the mountain open with the new terrain coming last. It is still early in the year, and we are still trying to build some base on the lower part to make sure we have the best conditions for the Christmas holidays. Yesterday, we did start making snow on top of the mountain. That is our goal to get all of that open, and we are going to be as aggressive as we can be without taking a chance on losing some base elsewhere.
BC: It will be good to open the new terrain to give people several different options and spread people out on the mountain.
CB: Yeah, we want to be able to tie the mountain together and give people another way around. Once we get that open and see how it skis, our end goal in a couple of years is to put in a fourth lift to serve as mid mountain lift.
BC: Well, thanks for taking time out to talk today, and thanks for putting on such a great event. It was a great day on the mountain.
CB: Well, it is something that we enjoy, and it makes us feel good.
Ditto from those of us here at SkiNC and SkiSoutheast.com. Thanks Blake for taking the time to speak with Chris…and thank you Chris for taking some time out of a busy day.
Blake Couch also posted a Trip Report, complete with photos and you can view that report and photos by clicking here> A Day at Cataloochee Ski Area