Staying POSITIVE on the conditions at Resorts of the Southeast!

You KNOW things are not quite up to snuff weather-wise when more of the conversations on the messageboard are alluding to some guy attempting to sell his PS3 than there are about skiing! We’re all going just a little stir-crazy around here! Yes, Virginia, there IS skiing going on, and believe it or not some resorts actually ADDED more skiable and ridable terrain since yesterday’s report (see slope conditions). However, the perception by some of your emails over the last 24 hours is that all the snow is melting and commentary on the messageboard seems to support that.

Nothing is further from the truth. Okay, we MIGHT be seeing some drop (maybe an inch or two) in base depths over the next couple of days. To add to the negativity, lets go ahead and pass on this bit of addition bad news – forecasters are saying that we’ll probably not see any significant cold or snow until around Christmas or shortly after. More about that in a moment.

The negativity continues… Several people have emailed us since the weekend asking us things like, “What the heck is going on with Wolf Ridge?” (Actually most of the emails used their old name – Wolf Laurel – but you get the point. We’ve had emails from people quoting contacts at Wolf Ridge, including some lady who evidently spoke with a cook at Wolf Ridge who just happened to catch the phone. She was told that they didn’t open “’Cause we didn’t get no food order in time.” (<Actual quote.) Another emailer shared that they spoke with someone at Wolf Ridge who told them that some of the equipment had not cleared inspection yet and that they had to postpone opening. Season pass holders from there have shared their frustrations. We see on Wolf’s website that they plan to open on Wednesday. Now we heard from someone else over there that may not be the case.

Let’s add some more negativity…

I wish that all of the ski resorts would quit using the term “Packed Powder” days and days after a snowfall. Isn’t it REALLY manmade, packed powder? See, NOW you people have gotten me started!

It is funny how that kind of stuff snowballs…no pun intended. (Okay it was intended.) If we were in the midst of a three week snow and cold snap, we’d all be getting along like peaches and cream. The fact is that the weather …or some lack of it does seem to have many of you guys in an ill mood!

We received 347 emails in the last 24 hours and three of them alluded to some of the nice additions that we’ve made to our websites and the rest just wanted (in one form or another) to know when the heck XYZ resort would have more slopes open.

Okay, let’s settle down class…and pay attention to today’s lesson. We’ll call this “Snow Perception 101”.

To get today’s lesson started with a bang. Without looking at today’s slope conditions / snow report, answer this question: How many trails are available for us to ski in the Southeast RIGHT NOW? How many? A few of you say, 25; a couple shouted 40. How about 100!!!?? Right this very second on Tuesday, December 12th, 2006 we have exactly 100 available trails on which to ski or ride.

38 of those trails are in North Carolina; 16 in Virginia; 29 in West Virginia and Ober in Tennessee has 3 and Wisp in Maryland has 14. So if you live in close proximity to any of the five states mentioned…there IS skiable terrain open to play on!

SO STOP ALL THE NEGATIVITY! Oops…sorry class, I’m supposed to be above all the fuss and use better judgment. I’ll try to do better next time.

Let’s address another misconception. The snow is not melting. Some of your emails have me seeing visions of that witch in the Wizard of Oz who screams, “I’m m-e-l-t-i-n-g; I’m m-e-l-t-i-n-g!” While resorts may not be building base right now…they are not watching it melt away either. Here’s more of that perception thing. Even during this mild forecast ahead, daytime highs are not appreciably warmer than normal. NORMAL for this time of year is 48° and the normal low is 26°. The forecast is for highs in the 52° range and lows around 29-32°. So while daytime temps softens up the snow a bit, the night time temps will firm it back up. Additionally, we’ll probably even see some sporadic snowmaking going on at some resort across the region.

So while we may not be skiing on pristine conditions with knee deep powder…we do have quite a lot of really good conditions to ski and ride on RIGHT NOW. I was out Saturday night and could not believe how good the conditions were at Sugar. One look at the live webcams this morning will tell you that the conditions today are every bit as sweet. While we’re not huge proponents of base depths, and the exaggerations of them, the fact is that there is a good base across the open slopes at all resorts. No bare spots, no thin coverage…just good snow. That’s not a perception but a fact.

Check out these summaries and look at the Slope Conditions Page for more details:

Andrea Smith of Snowshoe Mountain reports, “The snow makers were out working again overnight to continue to build the trail count. Grabhammer and Skipjack will be open today making 17 open trails at the Snowshoe Area. The Skidder, Powder Monkey, Ballhooter and Powderidge lifts will be running today from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Spruce Glades terrain park is open with seven features and the Powder Monkey Terrain Garden is open with three. Get ready as the Silver Creek Ski Area is set to open this Friday which means night skiing and tubing! Snowmobile and Sno-cat tours are also ready so prepare for adventure! Stay tuned to as we expect the new Soaring Eagle Express lift to begin flying in the next week or so. The first 100 people to ride the lift that morning will enter a raffle to win several gifts including ipods!”

Timberline Resort is suffering from a different kind of perception. Some reporting service such as the Southeastern Ski Areas Association has continued to report Timberline as CLOSED. They have been open since this past weekend…and they are open with 5 trails this morning and they may be adding “Easy Does It” and “Fire Road” to their open terrain.

Cataloochee is open with MORE terrain today than they had this past weekend. Tammy Brown reports, “Today we will be skiing on seven slopes, Rock Island Run, serviced by the Rock Island Run Quad Chairlift, Intermediate Lower Omigosh, serviced by the Omigosh Double Chairlift, Beginners Over Easy, Beginners Easy Way and Beginners Rabbit Hill serviced by the Easy Way Triple Chairlift, Wolf Creek Hollow, serviced by the Moving Carpet Conveyor lift, and Beginners Luck Learning Area serviced by the Moving Carpet Conveyor Lift on a base of 28-52 inches and a packed powder surface.

On Tuesday we offer two sessions of skiing, twilight skiing from 1pm until 10pm and night skiing from 6pm until 10pm with an afternoon half day rate also available. Weekday and student rates will be in effect.

Tube World and Wee Bowl Snowplay area located in Maggie Valley, across from Ghost Town four miles from the ski area will be reopen Saturday, December 16 at 10am”

So, you guys keep your chin up. Things ARE really quite nice out and winter isn’t even officially here yet. We’ll be skiing through this next little mild spell and cold weather and snow IS in our future.


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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.