You guys are left with me providing your Monday update as Will Mauney called in saying that my buddy, Len Bauer of Sugar "needed him" to handle the crowds that are at the mountain today, President’s Day. Coincidentally it is snowing like crazy. Oh well. Truth is I could not believe the traffic and parking situation out on the highway in front of Sugar on Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure that I’ve seen that many people there for a two day period before. Certainly some records being set there.
I received a few emails of that kind of traffic and crowds at many other resorts. The webcams showed some massive lift lines this weekend but THAT GOES with skiing on big holiday weekends and it goes with sking and riding on big weekends when the conditions are about as awesome as I’ve seen them.
I’ve been getting some comments emailed to me by marketing peeps at various resorts with inclusions such as, "…the best conditions in our history", "…the most we’ve ever seen" and more.
I don’t know how accurate those kinds of remarks are, but I’ve been doing this website for 14 seasons now and in my time posting daily stories and snowfall totals I can tell you that I’ve never seen a season as good as this one in terms of natural snowfall across the entire region. I remember one season when Snowshoe Mountain was nearly 200" of snow about now, so I know that they’ve had this kind of snowy pattern. However in my coverage time – I KNOW that I’ve not seen a season as snowy as this one from north to south.
In terms of ski conditions – ditto. It gets kind of repetitive posting any kind of daily tour of the ski areas. I mean, how many ways can you write, "Awesome conditions", "Superb conditions", "Sweet conditions", etc.!?!?!
Truth is – as a rule – ski and riding conditions no matter where you want to ski or ride are nearly perfect. Due to the volatile nature of the weather this winter the resorts have had to do a LOT more than a lot of you guys might think to keep really good ski and riding conditions. Yes, we’ve had a lot of snow and yes, there have been more powder days than I can remember seeing within one season here in the southeast. However, there have also been a number of days where resorts have been faced with icy/rainy weather just before or just after good snows. Imagine for second that you turn an ice skating rink up on a 60° angle and then put maybe 1-4" of snow on it. There’s work that has to be done by our resort’s talented grooming crews to keep that snow on the slopes.
We’ve also had a lot of pretty windy days with all of this snow and that causes piles of drifted snow (powder) which is phenomenal for a day or so, but that wind also makes portions of the slopes pretty icy (like refrigerator ice) if not maintained and worked.
Our resorts within this region have not had to do much in the way of snowmaking lately. We’ve heard of a few here and there that have continued to make a little snow overnight. Snowshoe, even with its 168" on the season still makes snow at night where needed. Ed Galford, Tex Ritter and the crew at Snowshoe know a little something about how to maintain ideal conditions on a mountain!
Ober Gatlinburg, Sapphire and a few others have had to make a minimal amount of snow in the last month. So while the snowmakers have had it easy this winter, the grooming crews across our region have perhaps done one of the best jobs that we’ve seen in a long time – just to keep ahead of the weather – or to react to the weather when they are dealt an icy hand.
So in terms of ski conditions – hats off to our snow groomers for a job well done to date this season. Even with all of this snow things haven’t been all rosey. As great as things have been, I think I’ve personally received more emails this season from people complaining about icy conditions at the resorts. Such is life in the mountains. You’re only as good as today’s conditions!
Of course, there’s been more powder than normal within a typical season and POWDER is the word for today as I’ve watched perhaps two inches of snow fall since I got in this morning. That will insure awesome conditions for today. (There I go again!)
SKIER VISIT RECORDS??? EVEN IN THIS CRAZY ECONOMY???
The true answer to that question may never be knowm for certain unless you are a ski area insider or hold stock in one of the "corporate resorts" in our region. Skier visits are one of those closely guarded secrets that some ski areas only reveal AFTER another ski area reveals theirs. (Kind of like base depth totals!) Oh did I say that?!?!
Common sense tells me that to this point in the season (remember we have 59 more days of it left) things are looking "UP" in terms of overall numbers across the region. I’ve heard "record numbers" for several ski resorts during the Christmas to New Year period. However I also heard that a couple of ski areas were not 100% booked like they were prior to the dumping of the economy. MLK Weekend was another great weather holiday and I heard the same thing. Some ski areas shared some numbers that were above the last few seasons, while a couple spoke privately of numbers being a little off. Here we are at the end of the LAST holiday weekend of the season (unless you include Easter weekend this season) and I’m betting that some ski areas saw record numbers…while a couple were not 100% booked.
When it is all over with and this season goes in the accounting books, this President’s Day weekend might have been the biggest weekend of the season for many ski areas because all of this snow and HEAVY SNOW weekends prior to it actually kept some ski area numbers DOWN. When there’s a foot of snow OFF the mountain, some people will not try the drive UP the mountain. That is particularly so when television weather guys and gals (and Governors of some states) start crying that the sky is falling in terms of dangerous road conditions and road closures – even when they weren’t! We’ve seen that happen a few times this season as well.
So it has been a volatile season in MANY ways to date.
Conditions today will be super, sweet, awesome and any other adjective that you want to replace mine with this morning. Go enjoy the snow, be safe and have a great day.
That’s it for today as far as resort news. We’ll be posting lots more today and each day this week as we kick up the planning for the SkiNC / Beech Summit to be held this weekend. Look for more information on that and plan to be with us this Saturday. We’ll also be posting the SkiSoutheast.com / Snowshoe content today and that looks to be a bigger event than we’ve had previously! We’d love it if you can make both, but regardless make one of these fun events!
Stay tuned for more information.
We’re on day 78 and there are 59 more days of opportunities to enjoy the snow for the 2009-2010 ski and snowboarding season!
That’s it for today. Go enjoy the snow! Check out the Snow Report at http://www.skisoutheast.com/skireports.php and please send us your favorite ski photos, ski videos, trip reports and comments to [email protected]