We want YOU to help us report on all of our region’s ski resorts! We’ve received a lot of interest to date and we’re looking to beat the 120 On-Snow Reporters of a couple of seasons ago! SEE MORE INFORMATION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS UPDATE!
It’s been COLD for the last few days and that prompted the question of the day…
When is it too cold to ski? – Sarah D of Charlottesville, Virginia
I’ve always heard that the safe rule of thumb is when the water plus the air temperature doesn’t add up to 120° then it’s probably to cold to ski. …and that’s wearing a good wet suit. My family will tell you that about twenty years or so ago I skied Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina in February. I’d just bought a brand new boat and…oh…wait… huh? She meant what? Snow skiing? Ummm, it is NEVER TOO COLD TO SNOW SKI!
Now back to what I was saying. I have two jet skis over on Watauga Lake and as long you wear proper gear I’d say anything above freezing is okay. I know of someone who spent three hours out on the lake last winter when it was 27°F. Again, it really isn’t that bad as long as you’re wearing the proper gear. What was that you said? Huh? She REALLY WAS asking about snow skiing?
Ummm, I thought she was kidding. Okay, admittedly we get this question a lot. I remember some time back some first timer jumped over on the messageboard and posted some question closely resembling Sarah’s and unfortunately it was a guy and good grief did the guys on the board give him a tough time!
I searched our archives because I remembered someone writing me that they had skied at Mad River one winter at -22°, with the wind chills off the charts. As for my own experience I can tell you that my wife, sister, brother in law and myself drove to Beech Mountain about 15-18 years ago on a cold night where the ambient temperature was -14°. We were living near the top of Seven Devils and that morning we saw the thermometer dip to -12°. We were awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of shotgun blasts going off outside our bedroom windows. The first time we heard it we were scared that someone was out on our deck. After investigating and finding nobody there, we went back to bed. An hour or so later we heard it again. This time I hurried to the door. Nothing. I waited for what seemed like an eternity until it did it again and it became obvious that it was the deck boards on our front deck that were popping! Yes, they popped THAT loud. The next day some longtime residents educated me that when it gets THAT cold, the small pockets of air molecules trapped in the wood would explode and cause that sound. Amazing to say the least.
That night we made the drive to Beech, suited up and hit the slopes. In addition to the -14° temps, the wind was howling much like it has been for the last couple of days. We’d heard wind chill values of -45° thrown around and I doubted the validity of it until I checked with an NWS friend. Apparently 50mph winds and -14°F temps easily creates wind chills in the -45° range.
So back to the story. We hit the quad lift and it was surprisely open. (It is often shut down when the wind is howling like that due to the fact that it is a DETACHABLE lift. Apparently the wind can detach it!) Anyway, all four of us hopped on the quad and rode to the top. One thing about the quad at Beech that you can count on is that it will get you to the top fast. I am here to tell you that by the time we got to the top of Upper Shawneehaw, the women had already decided that they would be skiing to the car and waiting for us. My bro and I harrumphed and told them that we’d see them in a while!
…it only took one more trip up and down the mountain before we called it "quits".
You can read all of the macho, super manhood stuff you want, but – yes – sometimes it IS just too cold to ski or ride. I can only imagine that there were many hardy souls "weathering" the weather at some of the top peaks of many of our ski resorts of the Southeast over the last couple of days when temperatures were in the -35°F wind chill range. Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, Canaan, Timberline, and Snowshoe Mountain all reported MINUS degree temps this Tuesday morning with Snowshoe showing a -7°F reading. Sugar & Beech were at -4°F. With wind gusts reported of 50 mph at several locations those -35° temps made for some raw runs down the mountain and even colder treks riding the lifts.
I wasn’t able to make it out skiing on Tuesday, and I doubt that I would have if I could have. I’m blessed to live here in God’s country and the snow is abundant right now. I’ll chill until perhaps later on Wednesday when the sun is forecasted to shine and temps are expected to "soar" to 27°F for a high.
Although I wasn’t able to ski on Tuesday, I DID have the pleasure of going up to feed our horses in near zero temps and winds that were gusting enough to blow the hay off the snow. Due to my position and love of all things snow, I and my crew are all fortunate enough to have GREAT winter gear. I have several ski jackets, but on this day I was wearing my "Summit Series" North Face jacket, TriClimate Fleece Insulated inner liner. Under that I had two thin layers of long-sleeved shirts. I also wore a nice pair of Under Armour thinsulate ski pants UNDER a great pair of O’Neill Freedom ski pants (shell). I had my hood up and a good bogan on my head. I wore PolarTec thinsulate inner gloves with PolarTech Softshell outer gloves. On my feet were very good, water-resistant, Columbia boots. The only thing I didn’t wear (and should have) was a balaclava (face mask).
…all that – and I was cold. Okay, I was comfortable from my neck to my ankles, but my face could barely take the 30 minutes that it took to 4-wheel some feed to the horses and I had to periodically pull my fingers out of my gloves and roll them into the palm of my gloves.
I could not imagine attempting to ski or ride today, but of course I’ve "been there and done that". COULD I have skied today? Yep…but it’s kind of like the fact that I used to eat chicken wings with names like "Three Mile Island" or "Thermonuclear Wings" – simply because I could. I might have liked them hot, but I "went" for the too-hot-for-mere-mortals to eat because I felt the need to do so. I’m not sure when it happened, but I grew up. While I am still fortunate to have a steel stomach and the ability to eat things that hot – I don’t really E-N-J-O-Y it and don’t feel the need to impress anyone by doing so. Not that I EVER impressed anyone by eating something that sane people wouldn’t have.
So – WHEN IS IT TOO COLD TO SKI OR RIDE?
The answer is: When you say it is.
For some people I’m sure that is at 30°. For others 30° below. The only advice I’d give is invest in the proper clothing and gear and you’ll have a much better time on the snow – no matter the temperature.
By the way, thanks tons for the nice comments from several of you pertaining to the changes we implemented on the front of the website on Tuesday. We continue to attempt to bring you guys more "decent" stuff to read. Our Communications Director, Sarah Davis is doing a fine job of phasing me out of a job by posting good content via the FirsTrax daily news. Connie Lawn and Joe Stevens are both adding content and we’re getting more input than anytime in recent years from volunteer contributors providing great photos.
By the way, thanks to Lori Epp of Wisp Resort for that GREAT Photo of the Day of their 55th Birthday Celebration cake. THAT WAS AWESOME! Check it out on the front page of SkiSoutheast.com. (If the image gets gone from the front page, check out the image here> Wisp Resort photos
Remember that you can ALWAYS check out ALL of the POD’s that we post all season long by clicking either on the main photo of the day from the front page or by going to the ski area of your choice and then click on "photos". We have more photos and videos than any other ski website this side of Timbuktu – which if memory serves me correctly is located in the West African nation of Mali or Mawi or something like that. I know there’s a great website called Google where I could check that out, but I’ll leave it to you guys to research and email me!
…and you can email me personally anytime at [email protected] or if you prefer to email our new Communications Babe (her boyfriend helped me with the title), Sarah Davis at [email protected] . I know she’d appreciate it!
UNCLE MIKE WANTS YOU!
…to join our army of On-Snow Reporters. There’s no better way of telling people how the conditions are at our many ski areas than to get the message out STRAIGHT from the people on the mountain – YOU!
We’re giving away TEN SEASON PASSES and another $500 monthly for the volunteer reporters who do the best "job" of sending us the coolest or best ski, snowboarding or snow pics, videos and first-hand reports from the ski areas of our region.
What are we looking for? If you can answer "YES" to any of the questions below, then WE WANT YOU!
1. Will you be skiing, riding or visiting ANY of the 17 ski areas this season and simply would like to share your thoughts, photos or videos with our readers?
2. Will you be skiing, riding or visiting the ski areas often and could use $500 for your best efforts?
3. Are you a fan of one, two or more ski areas in the region and would simply like to spread the word of how cool our ski resorts are?
4. Will you be visiting the ski areas of West Virginia about once or more weekly and could use a FREE SEASON PASS to Snowshoe Mountain in return for simply taking a camera along with you and sending us some photos and videos when you go?
5. Are you a novice-to-professional photographer or videographer who could use a venue to show off how good you are with some great name recognition and wouldn’t mind it if you were chosen as top reporter for a month or so along the way and collect $500 for your efforts?
6. Would you simply like to – for the love of the sport, your favorite ski resort or this website – help us promote the region’s ski areas and perhaps collect some cash or occasional free lift passes for your efforts?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions then all you have to do is CLICK HERE and simply fill in the form and tell us that you want to be a part of our "SkiSoutheast Army". Who knows, if you’re really into it and do a good enough job, we may throw in a SkiSoutheast, North Face Ski Jacket complete with "SkiSoutheast.com Media" emblazed on it. (Only dedicated reporters who send photos or videos consistently throughout the season will be considered for a free ski jacket.)
We’re looking for good photos, videos and first-hand reports. We’ll provide all reporters with stickers and login access to our server so that you can upload your camera photos and videos directly to us.
If you’d like to be considered for the FREE SEASON PASSES FOR SNOWSHOE, we’re only asking that you have the ability to hit the mountains of WV at least a time or two weekly. You can detail your interest via the link above or email: [email protected] or me personally at [email protected]
We will be giving away the FREE SNOWSHOE SEASON PASSES between now and next week, December 22nd and they will be good for this full ski season until Snowshoe Mountain closes in late March or early April. So email us (me) or sign up today!
Note: Don’t PM me via the messageboard because we may not see your desire/request in time!
WE NEED YOU!!! EMAIL OR SUBMIT YOUR DESIRE TO JOIN OUR SKISOUTHEAST.COM ARMY TODAY!