Dave McConnell from Ober Gatlinburg last Night (27th):
Moguls! I finally got to ski some moguls tonight! WOOHOO!
I took a quick trip up to Ober Gatlinburg after work this afternoon to make a few runs. Well my plan was to make a quick trip up after work but about a gazillion other people from FL, AL, MS, SC, and just every other state in the Union had a different plan in mind for me. The traffic from Newport to Gatlinburg wasn’t too bad but getting through Gatlinburg took around 30 minutes. I talked to some people on the lift that said it took them two and a half hours to get there from Knoxville.
Once I got there the ski area wasn’t terribly crowded. I got lucky and got a space in the upper parking lot, but there were several spots in Lot 2 and 3 open. The temperature was relatively cool, upper thirties I’m guessing but with the afternoon sun and temps near 50 the packed man made of the morning was the wet granular of the evening.
Nice easy skiing snow, but tehbigcheese would have been disappointed.
There were a couple of firm places (some people called them icy but I wouldn’t quite go that far) but nothing that a skier of his magnitude would make more than 2 turns on. If you are wanting firm conditions you had better hit it in the mornings for next few days.
The Red lift was pretty crowded with line running around 20 minutes and a look down Cub Way kind of reminded me of "Where’s Waldo" on the ski slopes. The black lift had a much more manageable line. I only waited 3-5 minutes at the longest but if you wanted to ride with someone specific then it probably would have taken 10. Bear Run was fairly crowded as well, but I have seen it worse. The Ski Patrol was out in force trying to contain the mayhem on the slopes; slow down the out of control skiers and enforce the "No Jumping" rules to a small degree. They were, however; outgunned by the sheer volume of novices and no doubt worn out from an afternoon that I’m sure was even worse.
Mogul Ridge, I love the way that just rolls off your tongue; MOE-gull Ridge.
Mogul Ridge had some huge bumps on it, laid out in the usual pattern; very large with no navigable pattern over on skiers left (the less steep side), or large with a good flow down the steeper right side.
Generally I chose to stick to the right or center line, first day in the moguls this season and my legs can feel it. Pretty much there were never more than 2 or 3 other people on Mogul Ridge at any given time so it’s a great slope to get away from the crowds on, but it’s a long and demoralizing slide down on your tail if you can’t cut it.
Lorrie Tomlinson on Hawksnest on Tuesday:
On Tuesday, Hawksnest was packed, not just the snow, but the parking lots and the cafeteria, as well. Their tubing park has received so much recognition because it so incredible. The clear, blue sky was completed with the sound of laughter, as people cruised down the tube runs. The smiling attendant assisted each individual to ensure every person entered the respective lanes correctly. The Magic Carpet returned you to the top for repetitive trips down the tubing park.
Many, many people were enjoying making turns on the slopes also. Although lift lines existed at times, the wait was minimum. We were only there for part of the day, but the lift ops did an excellent job maintaining the lift lines. The holiday crowds have arrived so some wait was expected. Those lift ops really managed the crowds though. Get out there and enjoy these great conditions.
Jesse Smole’s Report from Hawksnest on Monday – (Titled "The Failed Ski Trip):
Here in an interesting report for you. I try to avoid the slopes during the holiday period due to increased prices and an increased number of people on the slopes, but with snow falling Monday I couldn’t resist. My brother and I decided to go to Hawksnest. As we arrived at the entrance road a man was down there to warn us that only 4wd/chains etc. would make it up. After inspecting my car (an AWD Subaru with snow tires) he said I could attempt it, but he said to take my time and watch out for the many cars off the road. As soon as I turned up the road toward the mountain there was a car stuck in the middle of the road with three people pushing it to get it out of the way. Once that was clear I begin making progress. Through the first few hairpin turns cars were scattered everywhere with numerous dints and dings in their bumpers. There is a section of the road that then goes back downhill briefly. I slowed way down not wanting to begin sliding on the downhill section. There was an individual in a Jeep behind me who must not have understood my reasoning because he/she wanted to be right on my back bumper. Into the first sharp curve on the downhill section I watched in my rear view mirror the Jeep came around the corner completely sideways, so I decided to speed up and put some distance between us, but I still will never understand why people travel so close in bad weather especially after passing 10 or so wrecked cars along the way. Any way I began heading uphill once again and there was a Volkswagen stopped in the middle of the road and a Jeep was stopped behind it. I stopped way behind the two waiting to see what would happen. Finally a young guy gets out of the Jeep in front of me and begins walking toward my car, about ten feet from it he falls flat on his back and slides the rest of the way to my window. Telling me they had pulled too close and would have to back up so I should just go around them. I do and I safely pull up in the parking lot at about 8:50a.m.
I put my car in park and the wind came screaming off the mountain and through the parking lot literally rocking my car back and forth. I looked up at the mountain and the lifts were not running. So before I put my boots/helmet/gloves and all other apparel on I go inside to make sure they are going to be open. I was informed at the front desk that the winds were too strong to run the lifts and they wouldn’t be able to open until the winds died down.
I headed back to my car and called Beech and Sugar both were open so I headed back down the mountain while I decided where to go next. This story is not over yet…so be patient. As I head back down I see the snow cat on the side of the road and a couple of cars stopped and two plow trucks stopped as well. I sat there a while, and one of the cars turned around there was a ski patroller and another couple guys walking down the road shaking there head and I am trying to figure out what is going on. As they begin walking back up, I got out to see if I would be able to get down the mtn. The ski patroller informed me that the road was jammed with vehicles, so I asked if there was another way down. He said there was and I could follow him if I had 4wd. I let him know I did and he told me to tell the vehicle behind me, a Toyota sedan, to wait there until the police came and gave the ok to head down. Anyway I finally get back in my car and back up the road following the ski patroller to a road called Thorncliff (I think). The word cliff is not in there for looks! This road was STEEP, but we made it down fine and came out past the tie up. One of the tie ups was that the jeep that pulled too close to the VW early in the story apparently had attempted to back up to go around them but lost traction and slid into the ditch. But I was cleared of all that mess although I felt sorry for all those who had it worse than I did with wrecked or stuck vehicles. After all that I had kind of lost my desire to ski, the winds were still howling and the visibility was very poor, so I ran some errands and then drove the 1hr 30 min back home. Although I will say that I regretted my decision and wished I had gone to one of the other slopes later in the afternoon when I had nothing to do.
All in all nothing too bad happened to me at least I made it up and down safely, but to my knowledge Hawksnest never said anything about not being open on their website. It would be nice…I know it may have been a last minute decision with nothing they could do about it…but if at all possible when decisions like that are made it would be nice if they were posted on the website or even if they put a sign at the bottom of the road, or the guy at the bottom inspecting cars for 4wd could have let you know before you risk injury to your vehicle or you trying to drive to a closed slope. But I am guessing (don’t know for sure) that they were able to open later and that many probably had a great day on the slopes having no idea of what went on earlier in the day.
Mike Doble was at Snowshoe Mountain Tuesday and Wednesday:
Tuesday was one EPIC day to be on the slopes and even though the crowds were out in force…the lift lines never got to be longer than 10-15 minutes. We did FIRST TRACKS at 8:50am and skied right onto the lifts for the first 1.5 hours! Most often lift lines were 5-10 minutes. At times the slopes were crowded…but if you timed it right, there were many areas where you were all but alone on a run. Slope conditions were remarkable ALL day long on most mid-mountain trails. I never made it over to Shays or Cupp (couldnt believe that!) but I heard from many trips up the lifts…that they were pretty icy…as was Widow Maker. However, most of the 57 trails were absolutely phenomenal. Tuesday’s skiing was enhanced by the 3" snowfall on Monday and conditions were perfect…and the scenery was awesome with the evergreen covered in snow…both from the recent snow…and the previous 58" that Snowshoe has seen so far this season.
We did first tracks again Wednesday morning, and the surface was a bit crusty – medium frozen groomed. We skied down to the Boat House and had NO wait to get some of the best Belgium Waffles you can find. We ate quickly and hit the Ballhooter lift up the mountain and skied for the next hour with no waits at the lifts. The second and all subsequent runs were perfect as the snow softened quickly…even though the temperatures stayed in the 30s. I witnessed what HAD to be a record lift line length on the GrabHammer Lift. The line HAD to be literally 100 yards long waiting for the triple lift. Amazingly it didn’t take more than 10 minutes to get on…which was nice.
After lunch and about ten great runs down the mountain…my group decided to do something that none of us had ever done. SNOWBOARD. Read about that on Thursday morning’s stories!
If you’re at Snowshoe…look me up…we’re all wearing SkiNC Hoodies!
Barbara Young reports from Wisp:
Conditions were great here, but the crowds were pretty heavy. Some of the lift lines became unbearable at mid-day and I gave up on skiing. After lunch things died down a little bit (not much) and I made several runs. The sun was pretty warm enough to shed some outer layers and I saw numerous people skiing in long sleeved tees. All in all a GREAT day to be on the slopes.
We will keep a log of the best reporter’s submission, photos and reports. Trust us it is way to time consuming to post every pic…but send them…because we are tallying the scores. The winner of the Best On Snow Reporter for 2005-2006 will win $1000 in cash, a FREE Getaway Vacation and more. The contest will run from now through March 1st and we will choose the winner. Our choice will be based on the following and IN THE ORDER of importance.
Quality of Photos
Quality of Reports (well written, informative, unbiased)
Number of Photo Submissions
Number of Reports
Extra points will be given for getting smiling faces in the photos and including names and cities where you can.
Extra points will be awarded for creative ideas.
We will choose the winner based on how helpful and informative the reports have been.
As of 12/28/2005 here are the top vote getters. (We will only document the top three to five here throughout the season…and we may begin posting the top ten, depending on how close results are.)
1. Lorrie Tomlinson
2. Mark McKelvy
3. Joe Harmon
4. Kent Jackson
5. Heidi Hatcher
6. Dave McConnell