This season has been a little strange so far. We’ve been seeing bursts of cold mixed in with shots of warm weather, so the resorts have been hanging by a thread at times. However, now is the time to get out there, because by the end of this week most everyone in the southeast should have their best conditions of the season for skiers and riders.
My trip reports this season are probably going to have a slight bias towards Snowshoe Mountain, since I decided to buy a season pass this year. This decision was mostly facilitated by Snowshoe’s new college student pass, which is a really great deal at $300 for unlimited access the whole season. After six or seven trips up the pass pays for itself and I will begin to save money on every additional trip. However, I am also going to try really hard to get out to a bunch of different mountains all around the southeast this year, including many of the ones in North Carolina that I have never visited.
Last weekend started out like most of my other trips to the ‘Shoe. I got up at 4:00 AM, stumbled around trying to get my ski clothing together, and got on the road by around 5 after some breakfast. I really enjoy my early morning drives up to Snowshoe- I always get to see the sun rise in the mountains, and Greenbrier and Pocahontas county hold some of the most beautiful countryside in WV. Yes, Snowshoe is one of those places where “you can’t get there from here”, but the drive does show some of the most stunning mountainous terrain that the Appalachians have to offer.
I usually arrive at the top of the mountain by 8:15-8:30, so that I have time to get my gear unsorted before they drop the ropes. I said it last year and I’ll say it again: if you want the best snow conditions and the smallest crowds the resort has to offer, get there when the ropes drop. This isn’t always true, but normally the smoothest corduroy and the freshest powder is there for those willing to get up early for it. The skiing on Saturday was definitely good, though visibility was low at the top of the mountain. The snow was well groomed and the crowds surprisingly small. They had made snow all day Friday, and were continuing to pound it out on Saturday as well. By the time 4:00 rolled around I was ready to get off the slopes and meet some friends who were going to ride with me the next day.
A short aside: I skied with three people last weekend that I met solely because of the SkiNC messageboard. If you haven’t poked your head around that part of this site yet, I highly recommend it. There is a very solid community there, and it is a great place to touch base with other people skiing and riding in the southeast. I am glad that I found it last year, and have definitely made some new friends that share my love for snow and skiing. So, in short, check it out!
That being said, we got out Sunday to ride on some very interesting conditions. Freezing rain had fallen the night before, so everything in the village was coated with a layer of slick crust. However, the slopes were surprisingly soft early on; it was only early afternoon when things started to get scraped out and icy. However, around 2:00 the snow really started to fall, which made for some really nice dust-on-crust conditions. It was definitely nice to go from chattery boilerplate to creamy powder, and we kept enjoying smooth turns until they closed two of the lifts to the top of the mountain due to high winds. The winds that night were crazy, with 50 mph gusts rocking the building where I was staying. The snow was coming down all night, and I knew the wind would help deposit that snow on the tree-shielded slopes.
The next morning I made sure to get out when the ropes dropped. On a powder day, this it the only way to go if you want a couple nice untracked runs. I saw the snow report said 8 inches of fresh and I knew that meant there would be some deep drifts on the slopes. The snow was awesome low-density pow, and my first two runs were the best of the season so far. Because of the limited terrain it tracked out quickly, but I did manage to get those first two really good runs as well as a couple picture runs. I skied until about noon that day, when everything was totally tracked out, but the conditions were still great- packed powder on all the trails, and very smooth riding. The sun came out mid-morning, and it turned into a beautiful day.
It was a great weekend at the ‘Shoe, and I had a blast skiing all three days. It looks like they are going to have cold weather at night for the rest of this week, so look for more trail openings coming soon, both there and at the other resorts around the Southeast. Its time for everybody to get out and ride!
See all of Rob’s Great Trip Photos by clicking here> Photos of Snowshoe Mountain
You can write to Rob at [email protected]