(We’ll post this morning’s resort notes in just a bit so be sure to check back..)
If you didn’t attend the 2nd Annual SkiNC Summit we missed you. Okay we really didn’t miss you but you should have come out. A blast was had by all and all but one of us will remember it. I wouldn’t rat out the lone attendee who will be wondering who stole Saturday away from him, but did anyone see that bird flying high as a kite over the snow? (There’s an insider hint there somewhere!)
Dave McConnell, (TeleDave on the messageboard) planted the seed to begin some sort of get together back during the 2004-2005 season and after some posts to the messageboard the first SkiNC Summit was held on February 26th, 2005 at Hawksnest Ski Resort. The weather was a little sketchy and that may have held attendance down for all but the diehard board members. (Yours truly didn’t even make the trip.)
However Mark McKelvy (markhpnc), Jasen Vioral (MellowYellow), Joe Harmon (Snowbird), Gresham Barker (GreshamB), Dave McConnell (Teledave), Paul Philippon (Duck Rabbit), Thomas Bynum (Ga tom), and bowen567 (and I apologize from not having your full name!) DID attend the inaugural summit and those eight guys got something special started.
This season not only have several of the members of the messageboard met up for trips to various resorts (most often Cataloochee), some 14 or so of them made the first ever SkiNC / Utah Summit trip to Utah and skied in some of the best powder that you could dream of for more than a week. Then today the 2nd annual SkiNC Summit went down at Ski Beech and some 40 +/- people attended and had a blast. Dave McConnell and I had been semi-secretly monitoring the number of potential attendees to see how many were planning to attend. Once we had that number locked down, Dave and I coordinated to give all attendees FREE SKIING at Beech for the day. Once everyone showed up, we also gave away almost 40 SkiNC Hoodies and a ton of free stickers.
I arrived at 8:30am and several cars were already parked in the middle lot, which was previously arranged by Teledave. That was a pretty good sign that we’d have more than the eight who got it all started. One by one more arrived and after some introductions we headed to the slopes for some first tracks. The conditions at Beech were a little on the heavy granular side in places and yet perfect in others; definitely what you’d call “variable”. Upper Shawneehaw was pretty good, Southern Star was an icy, mogul-filled slope and The Oz Run (which was surprisingly open) was actually pretty good. The best snow by far was actually on White Lightning. It had the most consistent snow top to bottom and that is where a lot of the “Summit Crew” hung out for most of our runs.
I enjoyed making some turns with “old, but new acquaintances” and have to say that I was impressed with the ski and snowboard skills of several of the group.
After a bunch of early runs with no lift lines, things got a little busy so most of us headed to the parking lot where some had setup a tailgating atmosphere with plenty of Johnsonville Brats (or something equally as good), hotdogs, burgers and plenty of brews. Thanks to “duck rabbit” – Phil Philippon – for bringing a few cases of his sweet ales. More about Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery in a moment!)
By that time the crowd was in full swing and although we never got a perfect count (did anyone?) – I counted 38 attendees not counting some family members and late arrivals as I was about to leave at 2pm. I have to admit that I was laughing and smiling so much that my cheeks hurt. This is one crazy, funny, witty and gregarious crew! I can imagine that some of the group in Utah had their hands full trying to play “den mother” to a couple of these characters!
Anyway after chilling for a bit, and wolfing down a great dog and a couple of brews, several of us headed back to the slopes and the conditions had improved. At least I THINK the conditions had improved! Southern Star was definitely softer and the moguls were more manageable since the temps had warmed up a bit. White Lightning was even better than earlier and the cool thing was that several of us made NUMEROUS turns down that trail right up to the double chair lift at the bottom. The crowd had picked up but the bulk of the people continued to hit the beginner lift or the double and quad lift on the other side of the mountain. Lift lines were never terrible even there…but they began to be some 15 minutes long. We kept hitting chair number six (the double at the bottom of White Lightning) and never had to wait in line for numerous trips down the hill! At about 2pm, more people were finding their way to the hill and lift lines were forming even at number six…so I said my goodbyes and headed to the house.
I want to tell all who attended that you guys and gals are b-o-m-b-e-r! and I really appreciate all of the really great comments that many of you made. Without people like you guys, there would be no SkiNC and I hope that we can grow this once a year shindig into something that even more will come out and enjoy. To those who didn’t make it, you really should log onto the messageboard and “virtually hang out with these people”. I can’t imagine ANY ski club being any more fun and entertaining and I’d put these skiers and riders up against anyone, anywhere! There’s some people like Paul Philippon (Duck Rabbit) who had not skied since LAST year’s Summit (and what a really good skier he is!) and others who have been on the snow every few days during the season. (This was my 20th day on the snow this season for those keeping score!) I doubt there’s too many people who can get l-o-w-e-r on the snow than Jasen Vioral (mellow yellow), and it was cool to watch the great form of Dave McConnell (teledave) on those telemark skis! Watching Joey Bowman (afrobigfoot) on the “Bigfoot skis” was interesting as well! Summit attendees skills ranged from intermediate to expert, but all had one thing in common — a fun time on the slopes!
Snowbird…I hate I missed skiing with you dude (many of us did!) and hopefully we can do it again soon! If you didn’t attend, plan on doing so next time. Get on the messageboard and get acquainted with these guys and gals and I promise you that you will have a great time! Before I close out of this story I have to tell you that it was an interesting phenomenon going to hang out and ski with people who I had never met but felt I knew. Getting out of the car and calling people by name who I never had met was a cool and funny thing. Seeing photos of so many of you over such a long time meant that I knew who you guys were even before meeting up. What a concept!?!
If you missed attending – you missed a great time. Plan on being there next time as we continue to grow SkiNC / SkiSoutheast and the community that is YOU GUYS!
(Many people are planning on showing up at Cataloochee on Sunday. If you can make it over…do. We’ll be posting hundreds of images and videos over the next few days!)
Shameless Plug time! If you get the opportunity, be sure to try Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery Beer! Founder, Paul Philippon has a real winner with his variety of ales and they are available all across North Carolina, East Tennessee and will soon be in South Carolina. Visit his website at http://www.duckrabbitbrewery.com
Until Next Time!
Be sure to check out www.SkiSoutheast.com for more news and stories for all of the Southeast’s ski areas.
Be sure to email photos, snow reports and comments to: mail@skiSoutheast.com