On-Snow Reporters Report a Variety of Conditions

Christian Davies reports from Ski Beech Tuesday Night:

I was surprised that there was nobody on the slopes from 6-7pm, but after that it got pretty busy.  Lift lines were never more than 2-3 minutes but it was pretty busy for a Tuesday night.  I was expecting the surface conditions to be great, but they were more like “GOOD” at best.  The top of the mountain which can be icy at times was GREAT.  The surface was firm but very nice.  Upper Shawneehaw and Upper White Lightning was great.  The middle of those two trails was very nice.  The bottom of White Lightning was the worst job of grooming that I have ever witnessed. Sometimes the groomers at Beech have been known to leave a few “ice grenades” around, even when the trails been decently groomed.  However the bottom of White Lightning looked like someone chopped it up with axes and left it all the way across the bottom 100 yards of the trail.  Whoever did that grooming should be shot!  The bottom of Shawneehaw as nice and as you finished up on Lower Shawneehaw it was still nice, but as you ski down from there to the bottom or across to the Quad lift it was choppy and hard with quite icy conditions.  There was plenty of snow, so I’m thinking that the groomers of Ski Beech were tired from the President’s Day weekend because the grooming was either non-existent or where they DID groom it was horrible – with the ONE exception being the top of White Lightning which was the best conditions on the mountain.  Overall Id give it a strong 6 out of 10 for ski conditions…although there’s a ton of snow on the mountain.  Lazy to non-existent grooming. I skied a lot better conditions at Beech so I have to believe it was just a bad night.

SkiNC/SkiSoutheast Skied Beech Tuesday Night as well:

I hate to say it but I had a report all written and ready to post about conditions last night, but I don’t think I could summarize it better than Christian does above. It was great night to ski, but conditions were fair to good…and we were a little disappointed.  Some snowmaking and grooming will help.

David Long reports from Ober Gatlinburg:

Today was surprisingly crowded at Ober Gatlinburg.  As I was driving up I truly expected to have a boring day on the snow.  Wow was I so wrong!  The crowd felt like a slower holiday weekend as a lift line developed and people were strewn all over the slopes.  The snow was great for a 50 degree day.  Normally on a warm, slushy day the snow is very slow.  But today the warmth didn’t come till very late in the day leaving the snow fairly fast during the daytime hours.  Grizzly was better than I have ever seen it before.  I must say I had more fun in less runs than ever before at Ober. 

For many years Ober has been receiving a lot of flak from the skiing community about the snow conditions.  I use to freely and openly complain about the conditions, but this season things have been great.  Even during January during the unseasonably warm temps things were still in great condition.  While the resort doesn’t open every run quickly they do blow a ton of snow on each run before they open a new one.  When Ober reports an insanely high base depth they actually have it on the "money runs," Cub Way, Castle Run, and Bear Run.  These runs and Mogul Ridge are the main focus of snowmaking.  This past summer the resort built a new pond above Bear Run named Golden Pond.  This pond gave the resort about 30 to 40% more water than ever before.  When Mogul Ridge was built many years ago no additional snowmaking was added.  With the new pond Ober Gatlinburg now has the ability to make plenty of snow on all slopes.  So from now on if Mother Nature plays along then Grizzly should be open a lot more than in years past.  Not only does the resort have more snow than ever before but the conditions are tons better due to the work of the snow crew.  They have greatly increased their skills at making great snow in the past few years.

Joel Maners reports from this weekend at Cataloochee and Hawksnest!


Friday was my first visit to Cataloochee. What a day it was. The temps were in the upper 50’s to low 60’s. I saw people skiing in t-shirts and someone told me they saw some guy skiing in something less than appropriate. Needless to say, it was quite warm. The snow was soft and slushy all day. The lift lines were not bad at all on Friday. The longest wait I had was maybe 3 minutes. Even though the place was swamped, the staff was very friendly and helpful. We had a great experience and we’ll definitely be back again.


We skied Saturday and Sunday at Hawksnest. Saturday, we woke up to some good snowfall. Even though we were less than a mile from the slopes, we had a difficult time getting there. The roads had just enough snow on them to make them slick. Luckily we had a 4×4 to take us there in 2 trips. The line for the lift tickets was slow. They really need to have some way of processing more people who just want tickets. Once we got on the slopes, we had a great time. There were a few icy spots but nothing we couldn’t handle. The edges of the trails were very sweet with some nice powder. After lunch the wind kicked up and the wind chill made the temps seem to free fall. At times it was difficult to stand up. Inside the lodge it was shoulder to shoulder people. It was almost impossible to move. I was glad that we brought sandwiches. The food prices were outrageous and the service was sloooow. With everyone inside, the lift lines were very short though. We had several great runs before we had to go inside to warm up.

Sunday was spectacular. The wind had died down and the slopes were in great shape. We got plenty of runs in all morning. The grooming crew did a great job. The only problem was that all the lift lines were much longer in the afternoon. I think every church youth group within 20 miles showed up to ski. The lines got so long at one point, the red and blue lines merged. They should have had better crowd control at the lines. Nevertheless, I didn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes all day. The Hawk Ski Patrol did an awesome job all weekend. They were everywhere on the mountain, and they needed to be. I saw several camo clad bowling ball skiers blasting down the hill into crowds. One collision was one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time. A young girl cut right in front of this guy coming down Goshawk. They crashed into each other and skies and poles flew everywhere. Luckily, Ski Patrol was right on top of the situation. It was 15 minutes before either of them could leave the slopes. The upper slopes were surprisingly clear though. I guess most of the visitors were amateurs.

We rented our gear from Ski Extreme. They reminded me again why they are the best in the business. We had 10 sets of skis rented and they had us fixed up in less than 20 minutes. When we checked our gear back in, we were done in less than 5 minutes. Amazing. Their boots and skis are in top condition too. I’d rent from them again on my next trip without a doubt. The time it saved us on getting to the slopes each day was priceless.

Also, kudos to High Country Realty for getting us set up with a house to handle 5 dads and their kids. We were within a mile of Hawksnest and had a great view of the mountain. The kids loved the house, especially the foosball table. Thanks to Mindy at HCR for helping us arrive after hours. We found everything we needed.

On-Snow Reporters:

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 02/22/2006 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.)

We have a very close race going right now with only a few points (a day or two of posts) separately the top three.
1. Lorrie Tomlinson
2. Kent Jackson
3. David Long
4. Mark McKelvy
5. Christian Davies

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted more than 13,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.