“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.” – Warren Miller

I’m going to start off today’s FirsTrax with one of my favorite quotes of Warren Miller and it is perfectly apropos of just how great things are at the ski areas of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic this season. The last 3-4 seasons have been ‘meh’ to say the least and conditions so far since about mid-December have been really, really nice. If you’ve been putting off heading to your favorite mountain so far this year, get your rear and your gear together and make a trip.

A Great Day at “The Beech”!

First of all, I want to say “thank you” to Talia Freeman, Gil Adams and Ryan Costin and the crew at Beech Mountain Resort for play a phenomenal host to I and my crew on Friday. Friday was all about Beech as they are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this weekend. However, Talia and Beech’s peeps were awesome hosts to our staff. We decided to shut down the office and seventeen of us invaded Beech Mountain for the day. About two-thirds of us took to the slopes for a great day of skiing and snowboarding, while others enjoyed some snow tubing, ice skating and just hanging out and enjoying a day of “team building”.

Our team is a great group of peeps.

What an AWESOME Friday we had a Beech Mountain Resort on Friday. The weather simply could not have been better all day. There was a bit of a breeze all day that kept the 35-40° temperatures feeling colder, but other than that is was a ‘chamber of commerce’ day. Blue skies, temperatures that kept the snow firm, but not icy and groomed conditions everywhere. There was no snowmaking and everything was open at Beech with the exception of the Oz Run and that short, cutoff slope off of Lower Shawneehaw and that made for a great play day.

The conditions HAD to be the same at every ski resort in the region. The slope traffic became ‘brisk’ after about noon, but even then there were NO lift lines – okay maybe 2-3 minutes later in the day, but the slopes up top were open for anything you wanted to do.

Again – I would imagine the same was true everywhere. So – again – as Mr. Miller said, “If you don’t do it this year…”

Check out our full SNOW REPORT for all the deets for each and every ski area in the region.

We missed updating the snow report yesterday for what I THINK is the first time ever. Kenny and I met up early at Beech on Friday morning and both of us thought the other was going to do it. If ever there was a day to miss, it was Friday with almost NO changes from Thursday. As I did the snow report this morning, it was pretty much identical to the last two days. It’s been that consistent lately! Awesome conditions everywhere!

Friday was ALSO a Day of Learning for Yours Truly…

The first thing I learned Friday morning is that even though SkiSoutheast is ready for the internet and LIVE streaming, the internet is not quite ready for us. At least not on the mountains of the Southeast. For the last two seasons we’ve attempted to bring LIVE, slopeside broadcasts to you guys – but the mountains of the region are just not, quite ready for prime-time. WIFI is coming around at various resorts, but it is spotty at best outside or on the slopes. LTE sometime appears to be usable, but it can’t be depended on. On numerous occasions, Kenny and I have arrived onsite early and setup everything and had connectivity…only to see it die moments before we were scheduled to go LIVE.

Ummm, Mike, there’s no MIC! (Warren Miller we are not…)

That happened again yesterday at Beech Mountain. We had previously announced that we were going to be LIVE at 8:30am. The last few live broadcasts were semi-successful as we alternated from broadcasting via YouTube and Facebook. We had pretty much given up on Facebook so we had setup things to use YouTube on Friday morning. That didn’t work, so we recorded a session for FirsTrax with Kenny, myself and Beech’s Gil Adams – only to find out that I had muted the microphone!

So another thing I learned was that I probably need to stick to being a “keyboard reporter” and leave the film stuff to pros like the late Warren Miller. What made matters worse was that Kenny decided to try a Facebook feed after the initial LIVE feed failed and he was able to make that work. Go figure. Of course, my microphone hiccup made THAT also a failure.

I know. I know. I’m an idiot. If we’re going to do these things, we should probably have a checklist. Let’s face it…we only have the opportunity to do these things three or four times a season and you tend to lose what you don’t use, right? We’ll get better…and hopefully the WIFI at the various resorts will as well.

Until then…we’ll probs stick to recorded broadcasts and push them out quicker!

By the way, my buddy, Gil Adams was a trooper. After two failed attempts earlier, he agreed to come back out later in the day and “do it all again”. Gil’s one of the good guys. More about him in a bit.

Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Part….IV or V or VI…

Another thing I learned on Friday is that I need to limit my teaching to people old enough to support their own weight! I have introduced the slopes to a few people this season and most of them were eight to 20-something years old so they could kind of “do it themselves” with some training. One of the newbies this season was my five year old grandson and I had forgotten how bending over and skiing with a young person was WORK.

On Friday, after I had made a few turns down the mountain, I decided to introduce my grandson to trails other than the bunny slope and we ended up doing Upper and Lower Shawneehaw, Southern Star and even Lower White Lightning. Among the Friday lessons were teaching him how to turn to slow and stop himself. He really did quite well and was actually skiing some of the steeper terrain. However his five year legs were getting worn out and the last lesson I learned is that I’m not thirty years old anymore. Good LORD was I beat when I got home Friday evening. I’m not certain how many times I carried him; lifting and skiing with him down tougher terrain…etc…but late on Friday my body felt as though I had been ran over by a tank. Whew!

Thankfully Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is about over and I think I’ve done my part.

Gil Adams and Talia Freeman of Beech Are Great Peeps…

As earlier mentioned, Beech is celebrating their 50th Anniversary this weekend with lots of music and on–and-off-the-snow entertainment, including bands, brews, views, cardboard box races, fireworks and more.

Beech Mountain Resort, which debuted in the winter of 1967-68, marks its 50th year of skiing on the highest elevation slopes in eastern America.

There are now 17 ski areas in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, however Southern skiing was a new phenomenon when a dentist from Alabama teamed with local developers Grover, Spencer and Harry Robbins to open the most ambitious ski resort ever planned in North Carolina.

That dentist, Dr. Thomas Brigham, was an avid skier who had read an article in Reader’s Digest about the advances in snowmaking technology. He selected Beech Mountain because its impressive peak elevation of 5,506 feet provided all the crucial elements for skiing – superior slope grade, proper angle away from the sun, protection from prevailing winds and beautiful aesthetics.

The Robbins brothers were not avid skiers, but they were visionaries. They realized North Carolina needed something more than a ski slope with a lodge. The end result was a full-fledged resort with a Swiss Bavarian theme centered around an alpine village with shops, eateries and two ski lodges, as well as other amenities like ice skating.

In an interview a few years ago, Jan Elder, Grover Robbins’ daughter, summed up the vision that became Beech Mountain Resort:

“We were not the first to ski in the South, but it was the biggest undertaking by far. Everybody else up to that time had just built a ski area … but Daddy wanted more. He wanted it to be a total experience.”

On opening day 1967, more than 2,000 people reward Beech with their $9 lift ticket purchases.

“The response to big-time skiing in the Southeast was enthusiastic,” said Gil Adams, who skied at Beech Mountain that first year and is now the mountain manager at the resort. “Transplanted skiers living in the South could now find a big ski mountain close to home. Skiing in North Carolina had taken off.”

Ray Costin purchased the facility in 1984 and served as president before passing that torch to his son, John who is still the resort’s president – although these days the day-to-day operations are in the able hands of Ryan Costin – the 3rd generation of the Costin family to run the mountain.

Time flies as I remember when Ryan took over management. What seems like just 3-4 years ago was 2009! In the last eight to nine years several million dollars have been invested in the facilities and snow-making equipment.

Other enhancements instituted by Ryan Costin include a new terrain park last winter, a new state-of-the-art snowtubing park two winters ago, and the installation of a glass roundhouse skybar at the top of the mountain in 2013.

This winter Beech has implemented a new, streamlined check-in process in which customers purchase a lift ticket and rental equipment at the same place and go straight through the fitting process and are ready to hit the slopes in less time. Also new this winter is the ability to buy multi-day tickets and multi-day rentals to avoid repeating the same process each day.

Costin added, “Going into the 50th year, we took a really hard look at our product out on the mountain and our process for getting people out and on the snow. Our goal is to get people outside enjoying activities as efficiently as possible.”

Lots of Videos and Things to Share…

We took a ton of videos and photos on Friday and Kenny and I will be compiling and sharing more from yesterday. So check back a little later today and tomorrow for additional content that we think you’ll enjoy. In the interim, I did want to share a special “Happy Birthday Wish” to Beech Mountain Resort from Joe Stevens and the WV Ski Areas…

That was a cool move by all the peeps of West Virginia.

Notable Notes…

Appalachian Ski Mountain – Appal Jam will be closed to the public 1-27 and 1-28 until approximately 4pm both days for a USASA BoarderX event. It will open immediately after the event to the public.

Beech Mountain Resort – Go celebrate their 50th Anniversary this weekend. Music around the village and fireworks tonight at 10:30pm. Cardboard box races Sunday rain or shine.

Canaan Valley Resort – Although every resort has seen timely snowfall this season, we’re definitely a bit below normal snowfall for the season. Canaan Resort leads the region with 71.5″ and despite the fact that we’re all seeing less snowfall than normal this season, Canaan and Timberline Resorts in Davis, West Virginia has seen measureable snowfall on 17 of 27 days in January and 18 of 31 days in December.

Snowshoe Mountain – Things are simply awesome at The Shoe. Shawn Cassell posted, “Our team of expert groomers have combed out some perfect corduroy for your carving pleasure so get out there and enjoy. The Mountaineer Parks crew has given Evolution a refresh, and it will open this morning. Progression Park will be open to the public until Noon when we will shut it down to get ready for this afternoon’s Progression Session jam. Widowmaker will be delayed until around 11AM for ski team practice. Do you have what it takes to escape The Woods? Try out our new Escape Room and see if you and your friends can find your way out before an unexpected visitor shows up…”

Kenny Griffin filmed this short ski down Upper and Lower Shawneehas at Beech Mountain yesterday. That’s me skiing earlier in the day.

Check back as we will be sharing tons more.

If you have anything to share (photos, videos, comments, questions), the best way is to email me at [email protected]

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Also, be sure to check out all of the LIVE CAMS at www.ResortCams.com and our weather content

http://www.skisoutheast.com/category/news/weather/ – Brad’s Skier’s Forecast

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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 close to 14,000 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.