Rob Story’s Winterplace Trip Report for January 17th

Listen to me: Get up, go outside, take a deep breath of the cold air that has suddenly permeated the region, and take tomorrow off. Go skiing.

I’m serious.

Today’s conditions were FANTASTIC. I know, I know, not many places have that many trails open, but it doesn’t matter. Given the winter we’ve been having and all the frustration that has been building in my system, I was due for a day like today, and we skiers deserve the conditions that have finally arrived. Mike’s report on the front page of SkiSoutheast was absolutely correct – while the conditions a few days ago might not have warranted a “great”, or even a “good”, things have completely turned around in a matter of a couple days. Let me say it again: Take tomorrow off, go skiing.

I got to Winterplace about ten minutes after they opened, and honestly questioned whether or not something was wrong with the lifts. No one was there. I thought it might be a fluke, that everyone was still huddling inside the lodge for the warmth, but nobody was inside except for the food court employees. I made my first short run down to the lift to the middle of the mountain, and found that I was only the second or third set of tracks in the new snow, behind the ski patrol guys. I hopped on the lift and scoped out the Cascade, Rendezvous and Rendezvous Too trails, getting more and more excited as I continued to go up: No. One. Was. There.

What did this mean for me? First Tracks…and second tracks…and third tracks. The conditions when I got there were groomed/packed powder/powder, depending on where you made your run. Contrary to the report, Winterplace got at least a ½-3/4 inches of snow, if not a full inch. This doesn’t sound like much, but when combined with the fresh machine-made snow it made for some great ski runs. I ran the three aforementioned trails a few times, eying Drop-Off every time I got off the lift. The ski patrol guys were taking their time opening it up for the day, and it was my mission to be the first one down. Around 9:45, I got the top and saw the ropes were gone, and a couple of Winterplace instructors were eying the run:

Rob: “Do you think its open?”

Instructors: “Yeah, we think so, lets go!”

So down we went, the three of us making first tracks through 1-2 inches of fresh powder (they must have groomed it early on, before a majority of the snow fell). It was by far the best run I’ve had this season, and very much helped to redeem a month of crappy weather and slushy snow. Winter has arrived, so let me say it again: Take tomorrow off, go skiing.

The people eventually showed up, but you wouldn’t have known it; there couldn’t have been more than 100 people there the whole day, and I skied straight onto the lift every time. I would greatly encourage those of you who can to try to ski in the middle of the week, rather than on the weekends. The crowds are nonexistent, the prices are better, and the conditions are usually better. To put it simply: No lines. Less money. Fresh snow.

For those of you who are thinking about taking a trip up to Winterplace this week, let me warn you: the snowmakers will be on. I heard a fellow a couple weeks ago say that W-place has the highest per-acre snowmaking coverage on the east coast, and when they have all of their guns going, I can believe it. Be prepared to deal with blowing snow down every trail, and bundle up, because it was C-O-L-D today. They had frostbite warnings up in the lodge, and I had to keep my entire face covered from the stinging snow. Not being properly dressed can lead to a miserable day, so be prepared. But hey- at least they can make snow, so while I want you to be ready for it, no complaining. Any snow is good snow.

Now for some predictions: I think they will be up to at least 15 trails by the beginning of next week, if not the weekend. I believe that Country Roads, Look At Me, Snowbowl, and Over Easy should be open by then, and if we get lucky so will Last Chance and Last Run. Now I could be completely wrong, but they are really putting down some snow up there, and I could easily see them having these trails open that fast. Winter’s back in action, and we are finally going to see some open terrain.

So readers, let me say it again: Get up from the computer, go step outside into the cold air, and take tomorrow off. Winter is back in action, and the REAL ski season is just beginning.

You can read more of Rob’s reports at:  

See ALL of the images associated with Rob’s report by CLICKING HERE! The Photos are GREAT!

Previous articleWanderer and Cascade Trails show nice conditions on Wednesday as snowmaking ops were at their best – Photo by Rob Story
Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of, and 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.