"Depth Charges" –

Note: This story only ran for a few minutes on the front page since Ski Beech and Snowshoe posted late day announcements right after we ran it…so we are reporting it for today.

For those of you with a little "age" on you, this editorial report is not alluding to the weapons that were dropped into the ocean to blow submarines out of the water. …and for those of you who are "tired" of our continued reporting on the subject of base depths this season – JUST QUIT READING. If you continue to read…then don’t get mad at the messenger!

Also, before I fire off what may be the last shot on the subject of base depths, let me reiterate that reporting on this subject HAS NOTHING to do with whether or not we have great conditions to ski on. Surface conditions EVERYWHERE are very nice this weekend. Also, we agree that we only ski on the top of the snow anyway. In answer to those few detractors who ask us, "why does SkiNC dwell on this base depth thing" — we respond by saying if it isn’t so important then why are some resorts fudging the numbers?"

The answer — marketing. We’re staying on point here in an attempt to HOPEFULLY make all of the resorts know that we are watching and to see if we can get everyone playing straight up at the start of next season. Instead of immediately throwing up some relative number…maybe we can report measured depths from the get go. Instead of posting "marketing numbers that are close to what everyone else posts" — post what you have.

Now if you’re a ski resort operator — don’t get mad at the above statement. Read on a bit and tell me what you make of this.

Your honor, I rest my case —

Exhibit A, is a resort that for the purposes of this testimony will remain nameless. (Some of you guys don’t like it when I name names.) Anyway for the purpose of this report, we’re going to say that a few resorts have operated weekends only for the last couple of weeks. One of these resorts will serve as our "Exhibit A".

On March 6th this resort was reporting "X" for their base depth. Like all the rest of the resorts, they have received some snow in the last couple of weeks, and did NO SNOWMAKING since that time. TRANSLATION — this resort has had the same weather that all the rest have had.

Then one week later, March 13th, this resort reported a drop of 14" in their base depth.

Today, March 18th, this resort is reporting another 14" drop. That’s a drop of 28" in twelve days…while all of the other resorts in the same area have shown little or NO DROP in base depth.

What drives you (okay me) nuts is that NONE of the other resorts that have remained open are showing any drop in base depth and they had the same weather! Does that mean that base depths DROP ONLY if people don’t ski on them? I thought skier traffic made snow deteriorate…not sustain it!

What is more likely is that now, while people are looking the other way, it’s "easier" to drop the base depth tallies because we’re approaching the end of the season (with four more resorts calling it quits on Sunday). What is more likely is that it is no longer "important" to post marketing numbers since their season is all but over.

Some may ask, "why is it so important WHAT a resort reports as long as there is snow on the ground?"

I would answer, if it isn’t that important then why post RELATIVE FIGURES rather than ACTUAL FIGURES? I would also tell you that it has been our experience that people DO make decisions as to where they are going BY THOSE NUMBERS. We would just like to see the real numbers influence people and not numbers that some resorts will fudge more than others.

More Evidence – When we reported a month or two ago about our findings on snowfall reporting, we received a couple of emails from people questioning whether OUR measurements were scientific or accurate…so we’ve stayed out of that arena.

What we’re talking about HERE is what the resorts themselves are reporting. We have been documenting all resorts numbers since February 7th. What we’re saying is that their own numbers are proving that what we have been saying is correct. Some resorts are using marketing numbers…and some of those are a bit "heavier on the marketing" if you know what I mean.

I was speaking with one ski area manager a couple of months ago, after we began really focusing on this issue, and he advised me to watch the weekends and particularly holiday weekends. He stated that resorts would inch up the numbers when it was important to do it.

If that is the case, why not just DITCH the whole number system and just say:

"We have plenty of snow."

"We have great top-to-bottom and side-to-side coverage."

"Our snow is deeper than the crack of your …."

All of the resorts are part of some organization like the Southeastern Ski Areas Association. They meet and compare notes. They could easily just put this issue out for some mutual way of measuring depths that they all did the same. You know like they could all agree to NOT figure in two huge mounds of twelve foot snow in their average base depth totals. They could all agree to take two measurement and post the real minimum and the real maximum. …or heck, even better they could agree to do away with the two numbers system and go with something more equitable.

It just doesn’t look good when you have no snow and no snowmaking and yet up your base depth by 10" and 4" like two resorts did on Wednesday of this week. It just doesn’t look good when one resort drops 28" of base depth in the last twelve days just because they’re closing up shop and all others remain the same because they are staying open. It just doesn’t look good…and we’re watching and reporting.




Email me at: mail@skisoutheast.com

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.