Trail Counts – How Many and Where! That’s Our Topic Today!

Make Hay While the Sun is Shining…

For you younger guys and gals that’s an old idiom that basically means "to do something while the situation or conditions are right." That idiom should be the battle cry for all of the ski area managers and snowmaking crews within the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic for today

…and good gracious ARE THEY MAKING SNOW!!!

Before jumping into the report I looked around several of the webcams locations at various resorts and virtual CLOUDS of manmade snow are currently being blasted upon the slopes and trails at every resort that we looked at. The morning photo of the day is one showing the cloud at Appalachian Ski Mountain, but Beech’s and Sugar’s looked the same. One glance at the Extreme Snowboard and Ski Cam across the street from the entrance to Sugar Mountain shows a massive snowmaking effort being undertaken. The same is true at Wisp Resort where we saw a massive cloud on all of the cams they provide. Without question a TON of snow is being produced at all 17 ski areas within the region!

Some natural snow has also fallen across the region as Wisp Resort is reporting one-half inch of snow, and added 5" of manmade powder to their trails.

…and THAT brings us to the TWO most asked questions of the day:

1. WHAT ABOUT THE RAIN…?

Some people have emailed us asking for weather forecasts and remember that we DO provide those on the front page of our websites, and while there is some mention of rain chances on Wednesday and again on Saturday – the forecasters are using the words "spotty showers" AND they are in the 30-40% variety so that means that there’s a good chance that we’ll see VERY LITTLE in the way of "under developed snow" during the week and that means that at least the majority of time we’ll be enjoying the great product that all of our resorts are working to provide.

2. HOW MANY SLOPES WILL "XYZ RESORT" HAVE?

That is the next, most asked question over the last 24 hours. The accurate answer is – Appalachian will have 10, Cataloochee will have 14, Ski Beech 15, Sugar will have 20, Wolf Ridge will have 20…and we could continue right through "Snowshoe will have 60".

Now, before I get a truckload of emails – that IS how many slopes those resorts "HAVE". As to how many slopes the resort will have "OPEN" – that is another answer. Bear in mind that we have NOTHING to do with what resorts open and all we can do is offer our opinion and we’ll do that in a moment. However, first it should be noted that our ski areas are now into about 24 hours of perfect snowmaking temps and it looks like resorts will have another 24-36 hours of around-the-clock snowmaking ops and then the snowmaking guns and fans will cease for the rest of this week as temps are forecasted to moderate into 40s and 50s for all of the mountains of the Southeast through at least Sunday. MAYBE they’ll be able to make more snow next Sunday night but that’s too far out to tell right now.   The long range forecast is for colder temps and sun next Monday through Wednesday…but again that is way out.

So you now know why we began this post with "Make Hay While the Sun is Shining…"

The current snowmaking campaign will no doubt provide some very nice conditions at all of the resorts in the region through the weekend, but it is somewhat doubtful that the resorts will be able to offer the perfect scenario of fully-open resorts. Beggars can’t be choosers, so we’ll take good snow and good conditions on whatever trails counts we can get – right?!?!

Now to answer the question of "HOW MANY TRAILS MIGHT BE OPEN" we’ll speculate a little (based on our experience, how many trails are open now, how many have been opened during the better conditions of a couple of weeks ago, etc.) The question takes on added importance to those of you planning a ski trip into North Carolina or Virginia as they’ve been fighting a bit tougher battle with the weather. Let’s get to it:

Snowshoe Mountain received an inch of natural snow overnight. That is far less than was expected, however they are cranking out the snow today as temps dipped to minus 9° atop their 4848′ elevations. The high today is expected to be 10° and with brisk winds they should see wind chills of minus 35° or so. (Okay they’re higher than just "brisk" winds!) Anyway, Snowshoe has 51 trails open today AND they are cranking out manmade powder. The weather forecast has changed up that way for post Christmas days…but they should be able to add a few trails to that count. Look for 55 trails to be open with a +/- of another trail or two in the mix.

Wisp Resort added 5" of manmade powder to their base report and since they have had comparatively good weather – we think that they will have another couple of trails open by mid week. So look for 18-22 trails and we’ll update you guys as we have more input from them.

Timberline Resort added another 1" to their natural snow total overnight and look for another 1" maybe today. They are blasting the slopes with manmade snow and as Jessica Scowcroft wrote, "Christmas is almost here and our snowmakers are hard at work getting more trails open." They have 17 now, so we’ll figure they add another 2-3 trails to that mix to give them 20 or so open for this mid week or weekend. We’ll update that as we get more news.

Canaan Valley’s David Vance wrote, "Brrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!! Remind your guest today of possible frost bite. Keep face, hands, and all exposed skin well covered and protected." You heard it peeps! Canaan is reporting -2° and light snow. They have pretty much stayed with the eight trails that they opened with, but we think that they might add 4-6 more open trails to that mix by mid week or weekend. Look for 12 trails or so open. However we’ll update you if we’re off a little!

Winterplace Resort saw a TRACE of snow and perfect snowmaking temps at 4° this morning. They dropped one trail opening to focus making snow on "Over Easy" but expect that to reopen tomorrow…giving them 12 trails open for mid week. Their weather forecast is a bit milder than the other WV resorts as temps are expected to moderate a bit on Tuesday and snowmaking could stop early tomorrow morning. So we’re going with 12 trails open for Winterplace for this week and weekend.

Bryce Resort has 6 of 8 trails open today and they added 3" of manmade snow since Sunday mid day. Their low this morning was 15° and they should be able to make snow through tomorrow morning and then temps moderate until NEXT Monday. Look for Horst and Ryan to stay with the 6 of 8 trails open, but they might go to 100%.

Massanutten Resort in Virginia added 3" of base in the last 24 hours and they have maintained a steady 5-6 trails open thus far. They are making snow on Cross Trail and both terrain parks so we’re guessing that they are working to add those to their open trail count. That would make for 8 trails open by midweek or weekend.

Wintergreen’s Anne Marie Jones writes, "WOW! We are taking advantage of the cold temperatures to make a lot of snow! Our plan for the next few days will be to resurface all of our open trails, increase base depth amounts and re-open Sunrise and Tequila. Bouncing back quickly after a thaw is something we do very well. Thanks to fully automated snowmaking, we can cover our trails with a fresh layer of dry snow overnight. This is something our loyal customers know they can count on and often rave about. We have pulled all our terrain park features on Upper Dobie so we can pound the area with snow. We will begin rebuilding the rail park on Wednesday in an effort to have new features for you Christmas Day."

Wintergreen has had 6 trails open for the most part this early into the season. They are also making snow on "Sunrise, Tequila, Upper Cliffhanger and Lower Wild Turkey" and all those are trails not open right now. We’re guessing that they will add a few of those to the open trail count by this weekend to give them 8-10 trails open +/- one or two.

Appalachian Ski Mountain will be fully open by Christmas but for all the rest of the North Carolina ski areas – the scramble is to see how good a product that they can provide on as much terrain as possible. All of the resorts do a great job of that and you can bet that they are pouring on the snow in an effort to open as much terrain as possible for the Holiday crowds that are expected this week and weekend.

With the amazing snowmaking effort that is ongoing right now, it is a safe bet that Appalachian will be 100% open by Wednesday. By the way App is reporting an INCREASE OF ELEVEN INCHES of manmade snow across their open terrain in the last 24 hours!!! That should give you an idea as to how sweet the conditions should be for mid week and forward through the weekend.

Cataloochee Ski Area added 5" of new manmade snow by 5pm on Sunday so it is likely that they are in the same area as App this morning. Cat added one more trail opening for today and should add more by Wednesday as well. Our guess? Probably 6 to 7 trails operating by Wednesday.

Hawksnest’s Tubing Park is closed on Monday for focused snowmaking but they plan to open Tuesday or Wednesday. (We’ll have the live cam updating prior to that.)

Sapphire Valley Ski Area has yet to open for the season, but that not unusual. They typically don’t open until just days prior to Christmas. The weather has not cooperated with them, but they ARE making snow right now and will at least have the Tubing Hill open for this weekend, and perhaps one slope for skiing and snowboarding.

Ski Beech reports an additional 2" of manmade snow this morning. Ryan Costin and crew have shown an early proclivity to creating the optimum product on focused trails thus far this early in the season so we kind of expect that they will simply add "Upper Shawneehaw" to the open mix and that means 5 trails open for post Christmas skiing and snowboarding Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We wouldn’t rule out an effort to open Robbin’s Run (Upper and Lower) or perhaps Upper and Lower White Lightning – which would please guest. Our early guess? Five trails for this week and weekend, but Ryan and crew are working with what they have to open up more ASAP – so don’t be surprised if they are not able to add 2-4 open slopes to that mix.

Sugar Mountain added 6" of fresh, new, manmade snow in the last 24 hours so – GONE are the thin coverage areas or bare spots. Sugar will look S-W-E-E-T today. Gunther and crew have already shown that they can average opening a new trail a day with good snowmaking so we wouldn’t be surprised to see 13-14 trails open by Wednesday. They have 11 open for today and there is a virtual cloud rising above and around Sugar from their snowmaking efforts.

Wolf Ridge Resort – It was minus 2° overnight at the Mars Hill, Wolf Laurel resort and they have a cloud of manmade powder visible with their live cam as well. We have no clue as to what to expect over there for this week. Our guess? They probably offer 5-6 slopes for this week. We’ll try to get word from Orville or his crew and update this report. They’ve been very quiet over there this season and have had some difficulty in updating their daily reports. The snow was looking pretty darn good yesterday, despite the rains of last week so that may add a few open trails to the mix by Wednesday.

Ober Gatlinburg HAS REOPENED!!! They were at 7° this morning and used the snowmaking temps to their best and have 4 trails open today. We going to say that they will add one or two more to that mix by Tuesday.

CHECK THE SLOPE CONDITIONS PAGE FOR TODAY’S OFFERINGS…and we will update trail counts as we get them each day this week. Let’s ALL PRAY FOR COLD AND SNOW!!!

Also be sure to send us YOUR photos, videos and comments to: [email protected]