Spring Skiing Doesn’t Mean GRASS SKIING!

After a great weekend of skiing I was driving home down through West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and then North Carolina and I was increasingly amazed as the thermometer onboard my car kept rising. We started out around 11:00am at 64° at Snowshoe Mountain and by the time we passed Winterplace the temperature had risen to 70°. Around 3pm we hit Damascus and Mountain City and the temp was 72°. As I pulled into my driveway I just couldn’t believe my own eyes as the digital display read 76°! I had to remind myself that just seven days before we were in the midst of experiencing a foot of snow (15" up at Beech). Now THAT, my friends, is quite a weather roller coaster! It looks like we have three more days of mild temps and then Thursday turns colder with a low in the snowmaking range of 28°. Friday looks like a SNOW mix. We won’t look into this weekend’s forecast just yet for two reasons: First, it’s too early and second the forecast is looking rainy.

However, we just returned from a ski trip that was forecasted to be a rainy one as early as three days prior to it and not one drop of rain fell on us during the trip. So we’ll explore the weekend forecast on Wednesday or Thursday.

BARE SPOTS AND THIN COVERAGE — Everybody’s got ’em (except for Appalachian) and nobody’s reporting them – except Snowshoe Mountain – and us.

This is where the "love / hate relationship" comes to fruition for the ski areas that we all love and their relationship with websites such as ours. We challenge you to go and check any other resource out there and you will not find anything in the way of thin coverage or bare spots within those reports. Only Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia is self-reporting them…but trust me – they are there at every resort in the entire Southeast and Mid Atlantic with the lone exception of Appalachian Ski Mountain.

"Reporting "holes in the snow" is a two edged sword, but it has to be done", reports one ski area ski patroller who asked that I keep his name anonymous. He adds, "It makes me ashamed of working at this place when conditions deteriorate to the point that some skiers would have trouble traversing an entire slope and yet not see them reporting thin area or bare spots."

The "glass half full" part of the deal is TRUTHFULLY there’s a TON of snow out there and all of the ski resorts are providing pretty darn good terrain. There are enough people who think that there’s NO SNOW LEFT at 60° so when ski areas allow the term "bare spots" into their own reports you can imagine that there are a lot of people saying to themselves, "well the season’s over!"

Pure and simple – the season is NOT over and it is very likely that we’ll see some pristine conditions and maybe even some powder ski days before all is said and done for the 2008-2009 ski and snowboarding season. The close to this season IS quickly approaching as most all of the ski reps that I have spoken with are pointing to the 15th, 22nd and 29th as the dates that they will cease ski and snowboarding ops. Look for most to ski until the 22nd and the rest to close up on the 29th. If that holds true, this will be the first season in a few years that we won’t have one or more of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas skiing into April.

Cold air IS forecasted to return and we’ve also heard from a few ski areas that WILL BE MAKING SNOW at the first oppportunity – so pay attention to the SLOPE REPORTS and get out and ski!

There’s a lot of great reasons to ski and ride during March – including discounted rates, less crowded slopes and trails and more. THE BEST TIME TO BUY NEW SKIS, ski jackets and more IS RIGHT NOW. At every ski area you will find amazing deals with items being anywhere from 50-70% off!

So make plans to ski and ride, and keep checking our SLOPE REPORTS as we will tell you want to expect when you get there. Pay attention to our BASE LEGEND for accurate assessments of conditions.

THANK YOU SNOWSHOE MOUNTAIN…

More accurately, thanks to the people that make Snowshoe tick – COO and President, Bill Rock, Brad Larsen, Laura Parquette, Ed Schneider and all of their staff. It was an early start to Sunday due to daylight savings time, as some of our Summit crew met up at the top of the Soaring Eagle lift and did First Tracks with Bill Rock, Ed Galford, Laura Parquette and 15 +/- of our people. To Bill Rock and his entire staff, including the hard working lift ops, and personable patrol guys (Jeff and others) THANK YOU VERY MUCH for allowing us to experience the mountain before the rest of the mountain’s visitors. We really appreciated the treatment.

Here’s a couple of Summit Closing Notes:

It was admittedly very cool to see so many of Snowshoe’s staffers wearing SkiSoutheast.com hoodies and tees. I ran into Sonny Gower a few times around the village and it was easy to spot him – because he was wearing one! I hit Hoots…and saw more hoodies. Very cool!

Even when I heard people say things like "this is the worst that I’ve seen Snowshoe’s slopes look" they followed up by saying, "and the skiing is still great!"

It’s very cool to hear people like Bill Rock give so much credit to our website and state, "I firmly believe you and your community reflect the soul of southern skiing and have a tremendous influence on skiers/riders throughout the region." – and know that he means it.

I don’t make it a practice of sharing personal emails meant for me from resort staffers, but to read comments such as this one from Laura Parquette, wherein she writes, "The Summit has truly become one of my favorite weekends of the year, and I hope it remains an annual tradition. I know conditions weren’t ideal this weekend, but I’ve been impressed with the comments I’ve read thus far. Yours is truly a community of dedicated skiers who make the best out of situations and know how to have a good time." – That REALLY says a lot.

Another observation that goes to really credit Snowshoe’s people is that THEY too see the glass as half full.  They could have easily looked at the fact that only about one-half of the First Trackers got off their lazy butts and showed up.  Instead of complaining, they seized the moment and we had a good time with those who DID make it. 

Quick glances at Reported Base Depths:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 75-104"

Cataloochee Ski Area – 42-94"

Ski Beech – 30-70" – Dropped to 10 trails open. Spring Fever Blowout begins on Monday…$20 adult day, or twilight lift tickets!

Sugar Mountain – 28-78" – March Madness Rates begin today and run through the end of the season. Sugar offers up to 25% savings on lift tickets, rental equipment, and lessons everyday. Some restrictions do apply.

Wolf Ridge Resort – 38-58" – Wolf Ridge Resort Will be closed this week Monday through Friday with plans to re-open Saturday for an end of season blow out day on the slopes.

Bryce Resort – 25-50" – Dropped to 7 of 8 slopes open – Day skiing only this week.

Massanutten Resort – 36" base – Dropped to 13 slopes open – Day skiing only this week.

Wintergreen Resort – 30-60" – Dropped to 19 slopes open – Day skiing only this week. – Anne Marie writes, "The next 2 weekends are packed full of activities: Spring Fling and a Rail Jam next weekend followed up with The Slide and Splash Bash on Saturday March 21st. All of the cold weather this winter has allowed us to pile up snow on our core trails in anticipation of skiing and riding all the way through to the Slide and Splash Bash on the 21st of March"

Canaan Valley – 20-40"

Snowshoe Mountain – 50" – Dropped to 56 trails open. Reporting some bare spots.

Timberline Resort – 40-68" – Dropped to 28 trails open.

Wisp Resort – 6-42" Dropped to 23 trails open.

Ober Gatlinburg – 48-78"

Send your comments, photos, videos and trip reports to: [email protected]