This is the second morning in a row that temperatures are in the 40s for morning lows. Actually Beech and Sugar are reporting 39.9°, and there’s a 51.1° at Crossnore (just the other side of Linville). Things will remain mild through Wednesday and then get back to something closer to normal beginning Thursday. However snowmaking temps are still some eight days away. There’s some borderline 30-32° chances ahead coming up maybe Thursday and Friday nights but as mentioned – those are going to be borderline.
So we’re just beginning what was forecasted to be a mild stretch. Thankfully we’re coming off a great stretch of weather that allowed for a lot of focused snowmaking. As we move into next week, despite some crazy, crazy base depth numbers out there – we’re going on record to say that a few thin coverage areas (minor, minor, minor) will pop up at one or two ski areas. However, all of the resorts are in great shape to make it through this next week with good conditions on the slopes.
Each resort will do some daily pushing around of snow and groom things up and all will be fine. The cold air and stormy tracks of potentially snowy weather look to be returning around the 15th or 16th of February.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me address those of you who are ALREADY emailing about all the snow melting away. One of these days we’ll have all of you "snow newbies" educated that it just doesn’t work that way. First, there is some NATURAL SNOW still on the ground from last week’s snowstorm. That was just 72 hours or so ago that we saw 6-11" of snow in some locations of the mountains.
<Here is a photo from Saturday up at the Gazebo and park area beside Fred’s Mercantile on Beech Mountain.
Second, the ski areas each added some 3-7" of base daily with zero degree temperatures which made for some awesome base depths. These mild days DO melt some base away, but only a few inches here and there. For example, Saturday morning Appalachian was reporting a base of 95-120". This morning they are reporting a base of 93-118". That’s a 2" drop! Sugar Mountain reported a base of 60-93" Saturday morning and this morning they are reporting a 56-89" base. A drop of 4". When you project that out over the next 8 days or so – some resorts could lose as much as 30" of base and while that is substantial – that still leaves them with 60+ inch base depths at App and a minumum of 25-30" at Sugar. So don’t fret, conditions are very, very nice right now and they will be in pretty good shape for this mild stretch of weather ahead.
CROWDS – MAYBE RECORD CROWDS ATTENDING THE SKI AREAS!
Nobody is talking specifics right now, but every resort operator that I have spoken with is smiling from ear to ear these days. I have not seen but a couple of weekends from the season (to date) that was less than packed. Most weekends before and since the Holidays have been absolutely wall-to-wall with people coming and enjoying some of the best conditions in years.
The news media can talk all they want about how the economy is down, but you would not know it looking at the slopes and the parking lots, cafes, eateries and shops in and around the ski areas! Sugar was packed all the way out to Hwy 184 for the "umpteenth" time this season with lines out by the road waiting for shuttles. Beech was packed by mid day on Saturday and nobody seemed to mind the lines.
Actually we made a BUNCH of turns at Beech on Saturday. We found the quad line packed way out, but the average wait was only about ten minutes with MAYBE one wait that took 15 minutes. Some of the other lift chairs (like the one for Lower Shawneehaw) was a little longer than that, but there were a couple of lifts – like the one at the bottom of White Lightning that offered almost immediate use after each trip down. The lift house at the bottom of Southern Star was never more than MAYBE a two minute wait. So while the slopes (especially at the base) were PACKED with people (mostly newbies) – you could make numerous turns on Saturday.
I ran into Charlie Hanley and Dan Thompson with the Ski Beech race team on Saturday. Beech was playing host to one of the USSA Races on Robbins Run on Saturday. Racers from around the Southeast and Mid Atlantic’s ski areas were competing for top honors. We did some video while we were there and we’ll post that later this morning! Beech’s race team looked very good.
Speaking of looking good – the conditions on the slopes were AWESOME. Literally awesome. I really enjoy it when things are just slightly soft enough to make some great carves, but firm enough to hold your edges. That is precisely what the conditions were like from top to bottom on all of the slopes on Saturday. White Lightning was SWEET; Southern Star – sweet. Upper and Lower Shawneehaw – sweet! I was able to do the right side of Robbins since I was covering the races and it too was – sweet! Even though I was able to do Beech back during one of the powder days a couple of weeks ago – yesterday was really, really nice. Beech had done a great job of grooming.
Beech had also built up a long couple of snow hits along the side of the Freestyle slope and that is where they held the 3rd Rail Jam Saturday evening. That fun event began at 5pm and unfortunately yours truly had already obligated to meet up with some family for dinner in Banner Elk, so I had to leave all the fun at Beech. Hopefully we’ll get you some pictures from that. The setup looked awesome and I am certain the some of the participants did a bunch to excite the crowds that were already lining up to watch as we were leaving.
So Beech was a busy place on Saturday with the USSA Slalom Race going on and the Rail Jam taking place as well.
Sugar Mountain is hosting a couple of races on their hill on Sunday so if you want to see some of the best talent from around the region, Sugar is the place to be today. I had some additional family and friends that skied at Appalachian on Saturday. They said things were great early and began to loosen up a bit as the day went on. That happens on these milder days. It was just a good day to ride most anywhere on Saturday and today will offer more of the same!
I’ve rattled on a good bit this morning so why don’t we just wrap things up and state – "The slopes are in GREAT shape again today! Lots of good snow and great temps to enjoy them. (We saw a lot of open jackets and some short-sleeves out and about on Saturday as the temps rose to around 48° at Beech on Saturday. Today will be a notch milder with some mid 50s. So enjoy!
Go check the SLOPE REPORT for all the details!
Enjoy your day!
Lots more is happening around the region…Be sure to click over to www.SkiSoutheast.com to see what’s happening into the Virginias, Tennessee, and Maryland ski resort areas.
Send your comments, photos, videos and trip reports to: [email protected]
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