Took my 11 year-old nephew up to the Cat for his first ski experience on Sunday, Jan 13th. Sorry there are no pics.. Got up to the parking area around 9:20 and was lucky enough to grab one of the last spots in the "lower" parking area. We speculated on how crowded it will be MLK weekend and felt fortunate that the weather was cooperating with our strategy for going on an "off-peak" weekend. We did a 6:00 "Tube World" session on the previous night and rarely waited any more than 3-5 minutes to take our tube runs from the top. Skies were cloudy and the forecast was calling for 30% chance of "few showers" in the afternoon/evening. As expected, the lines inside for tickets and rental equipment were pretty minimal. I signed my nephew up for a 10:00 lesson and he ended being the only one in his class. Private lesson for only $20 (woo-hoo !!). Another reason I like Cataloochee on off-peak days. With the large # of instructors they have on hand, you sometimes end up in a private or semi private lesson for the price of a class lesson. She took him over to the "Beginners Luck" moving carpet area and I jumped on the Omigosh lift to see how things were further up the mountain. It was disappointing to see the Quad closed, but as I looked further up to the "Rock Island Run" area, I could see it was not going to take much snowmaking to reopen that part of the mountain (look at their conditions now !!)
I was still surprised how well they had side-to-side coverage on most of the slopes. The only area in which the thin spots were conspicous was the downhill between Omigosh and Wolf Creek Hollow. Very little snow to ski on from Omigosh loading area to Wolf Creek Hollow. Later that day I witnessed a "newbie" take a fall right into the mud trying to make his way down to Wolf Creek Hollow. Anyway, I took some runs down Intermediate Omigosh and was pleased by the snow quality and relatively small crowds. Longest wait at the lift was probably 6-10 mins.
After my nephew finished his lesson, I took him down to Wolf Creek Hollow to practice. This area was also in nice shape with good coverage and soft, forgiving snow (but not too slushy). Got to love those magic carpets !! I can remember the tow rope days and I’m grateful he did not have to wrestle with that. After 10-12 runs down WCH, he announced he was ready to ride the beginner lift (Easy Way triple). As expected, he fell down when we were unloading at the top, but then made a perfect run down Easy Way & Rabbit Hill. What a great start to his skiing career !!. At this point in the day, the sun was peeking in and out and the threat of rain seemed unlikely. We made many afternoon runs down Easy Way with short lines for the lift (usually 2-6 minutes). He took a few spills but the snow was soft and he was having too much fun to care. We quit around 4:00 just as a brief, but intense snow shower came down. He really enjoyed seeing that. A perfect ending to a magic day at "The Cat". submitted by Ed Newman