Some Closures, Some Decent Conditions Still Found on January 6, 2007

The big news of this morning isn’t pretty. The rains of Friday really took a toll on the slopes of North Carolina forcing another closure (Ski Beech) and honestly it looks to us that Sugar should be closed today.

Since we’re discussing NC resorts first this morning, let’s cover them now and work our way North for a change.

The pick of the state would be as follows:

Cataloochee, with five trails operating today and pretty good coverage from side to side looks to be the best choice for skiing and riding today.

Wolf Ridge would come in second. They have three trails open and decent coverage right now.

Third choice would be almost a virtual tie between Appalachian with three trails open and Hawksnest with one. Both resorts have a “passable” lane of skiing for Saturday. Looks like App pushed and groomed a lane down the right side of Lower Big Appal, and although Hawksnest only has one trail open, it is Goshawk which is their main, intermediate (right side) top to bottom trail.

We’ve been big fans of Sugar Mountain this season and we admire their fight to stay open, but even Rocky Balboa knew when to quit fighting! Oh, that’s right, he didn’t. Oh well, congrats to Sugar for fighting on. (We’re big fans of Rocky and we have to pull for the underdog against that big, bad, old man winter!) Sugar does look to have done some pushing and grooming of their own to create a passable lane from Lower Flying Mile down to the base. It’s pretty sorry looking, but those in attendance will take it.

A few people emailed, “Looks like Sugar is trying to stay open just for the sake of staying open to say that they had “x” number of continuous days of skiing. Perhaps they should reduce their lift ticket pricing.”

Actually they are only charging weekday rates, but we’d have to agree that the mountain doesn’t look very enticing this morning for $59 for a full day ticket.

Some people have been confused about Ski Sapphire’s website snow report. It states that they planned to open today “weather permitting”. Weather didn’t permit. Be confused no more.

Ski Beech fought the good fight. However, after the hard rain of Friday night, they have closed until snowmaking can resume. They do have their Ice Rink and Village Shops open for business as usual.

Tennessee’s Ober Gatlinburg was forced to close as well. I was speaking with Kathy Doyle up there on Friday and she said that their Holiday traffic was substantially off (some 25% or more) but she also mentioned that financially their Holiday week was affected because even though they might have had 75% of their normal traffic, they actually sold lift tickets at $15 since they were only able to offer three trails.

Moving up into Virginia, Bryce Resort is still plugging away with 3 trails and Spring conditions. Massanutten Resort is still closed, waiting for more Snowmaking temps. (They DO have tubing going.)

Under the title of “When you got it, flaunt it.” Wintergreen Resort has the right attitude today. At Wintergreen, all you have to do is show your lift ticket and your greens fees are free the same day! So ski a little, play golf a little! Too bad they couldn’t get some snow on the golf course and do both the same day! That would be cool!

Sarah Lovejoy writes, “Enjoy what we hope to be the last of the warm temps and Ski and Golf on the same day. The forecast is calling for colder temps next week so we will be making snow whenever temperatures permit to produce fresh snow on our slopes. Today, we will be skiing and riding on 2 trails and 2 lifts will be running. We have thin snow coverage and some bare spots. Our snowmaking plan is to make snow on the trails we have open now and begin working on additional trails that have not opened this season.”

Seeing Wintergreen’s Base Depth omission makes me wonder when was the last time that we had resorts in the region not even offer a base measurement in January! (Sugar also omitted a base depth other than to say “Thin Coverage and Bare Spots”) That’s how rough it’s been.

Movin’ On Up…

Canaan Valley hasn’t dropped their base in four days. They are still claiming 12-36” which is somewhat suspect, but they do have 7 trails open with Loose and Wet Granular conditions. Last we heard, poor Canaan is hosting a media weekend with close to two dozen media people on the mountain. Timing is everything – Here’s hoping maybe they were able to cancel that bad boy at the 11th hour!

Snowshoe is also reporting base conditions that includes “wet granular and bare spots”. They also shut down six trails and now have a still-Southeast leading 28 trails open. Conditions are not too bad though according to a few people that emailed from there on Friday. The West Virginia resorts are looking for snowmaking temps one day sooner than resorts further south. After a 90% chance of rain for Sunday, Sunday night looks like 27° and a chance of snow. Monday through Tuesday night look snowy with highs in the 20s and 30s and lows in the teens! Much of the rest of the week’s forecast looks pretty cold as well. Perfect timing for MLK weekend approaching in a few days.

We also received word that our friend Andrea Smith of Snowshoe will be leaving Snowshoe in February. She’s headed to USA Cycling in Colorado. We’re sorry to see her go but wish her much success and happiness with her move. Hey, Andrea – send us some of that snow that’s bombing that area!

Timberline Resort is still hanging in there with 9 trails and 3 lifts running. Conditions looked pretty good yesterday via their live cam. It went offline last night at 10:30pm so we can’t say how things look this morning. Hopefully the cam wasn’t turned off on purpose! Pam Long wrote, "Despite the warm early winter weather, Timberline Ski Area is open from the top of the 1,000 foot vertical. The base is 26-58 inches. There is a very good probability of cold weather by Monday of next week, January 8th. Timberline’s team of snowmakers stands by overnight whenever there is any chance of snowmaking. To see the snow check our web cam by visiting our website at www.timberlineresort.com "

She added, "Remember the Timberline Grill is open for slopeside dining daily until late. Two bands entertain at the pub and grill every Friday and Saturday from 4:00 pm to 2:00 am. On January 5th and 6th JB Tenney with Macho Willy and Saddle Tramps will appear. There is no cover charge."

Winterplace closed one trail and now has 6 trails open with a base of 6-22”

…and our last stop today is at Wisp Resort at Deep Creek in McHenry, Maryland. They are also hanging in there with conditions that are not too bad considering. Their snow looks pretty white, though there are narrow trails and bare spots. They have some 13 trails open today and conditions that are worth riding if you’re up that way. Reward them with your business!

When Might This Madness End?

Before I dive into the forecast, I want to express how sorry I am for the winter that we’ve experienced thus far. It’s all my wife’s fault. (I might be sorry, but I’m not taking the blame!) You see, during a conversation that she and I were having yesterday, she happened to mention that we needed to go out and purchase a new “snow girl” for our yard.

Let me take a “sidebar” for a moment and explain that we had a decorative, yard, snow measuring snowgirl for years. We first moved up to Devils Lake Drive, up on Seven Devils in October of 1990. One of the first things that we did for the yard was to place this 36” tall snowgirl in front of our home. It wasn’t up a week and we had snow. I remember because it interrupted by golf game. We had a good winter too. The following year my wife forgot to place it in the yard for a while. It didn’t snow. She finally joked one day that maybe we needed to get the snowgirl out. I was incredulous! “Honey, what were you thinking!” She pulled it out of the attic and put it up and we began to get snow.

Same thing happened in 1993. I was busy and I left the decorating stuff to her. We didn’t get much snow at all until sometime in early March, she was digging through things and saw that she had forgotten to pull the snowgirl down from the attic and put her in the yard for the winter. She secretly pulled her down and placed her in the yard and BOOM, the Blizzard of 93 hit and we had more than 40” of snow and drifts more than six feet deep. (She told me AFTERWARDS of her oversight!)

Being the slow people that we are, we finally thought to just leave the snowgirl in the yard year-round. We did that and we’ve had some decent winters. …until our little snowgirl became so tattered looking, that unbeknownst to me, my wife ditched her. We’d had so many normal winters that she became complacent.

I know, I know – what was she thinking! Her father had made the little, wooden snowgirl and there must have been some magic in the wood or maybe the fact that her father comes from an old area within the Low Country of South Carolina that was once called Hell Hole Swamp. (I’m not kidding here.) However, whatever it was, we had snow until she ditched the thing last year.

So I’m taking it upon myself to commission her father to have us a snowgirl erected by tomorrow. We’re doing NEXT DAY delivery and the snow-babe WILL be up and prominently displayed sometime on Sunday.

Now, let’s see what happens. (By the way – PLEASE THINK SNOW AND COLD!!!)

Forecasters are still calling for colder air and maybe even some snow next week. We don’t want to jinx anything so we’re not going to elaborate here except to say that the fact that we have two days next week that snow is forecasted HAS NOTHING to do with the fact that we’re waiting until tomorrow to erect the snowgirl – promise! Additionally I’m a sports junkie so I kind of go with the rally cap mentality when things are going sour, you have to try anything!

Looks like the cold temps WILL BE hitting Monday night. You WILL (notice how positive I’m being – positive mental attitude helps!) Lows Monday night should allow for the snowguns to crank up. Then Tuesday looks like it might provide AROUND THE CLOCK snowmaking with natural snow in the forecast as well. Actually we could see 48 hours of snowmaking as Tuesday and Wednesday highs are expected to stay close to freezing with lows in the 20s.

Regardless of who gets credit, we should see enough snowmaking to make for a MLK saving Holiday weekend! Yahoo. So make reservations if you haven’t done so thus far. Keep them if you have them…and next weekend should be nice.

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Until Next Time…

THINK COLD AND SNOW!!!

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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.