We’ve got a lot to cover today…so let’s get to the BIG NEWS FIRST.
SNOW BLANKETS THE WEST VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND SKI AREAS!
6" of snow fell from Monday through last night at Snowshoe Mountain. 4" of snow has fallen at Wisp Resort in Maryland and Lori Epp up there emailed me at 8:30am that she was headed at to snap some photos and send them to me. I’ll post as soon as we get them.
The top snowfall we’ve seen so far is 8" that has fallen at Timberline and Canaan Valley Resorts in West Virginia. We have a call in to Coop at Canaan for some digitals as well.
We talk a bit more about how Mother Nature has not been exactly equitable in her weather thus far EVEN within the Southeast and Mid Atlantic. A good illustration of that can be seen right in West Virginia where Snowshoe, Timberline and Canaan have seen 6-8" of snow in the last 24 hours and yet Winterplace only saw a dusting from the same storm.
While the snow line seems to be just above Winterplace, the COLD temps filtered into all of the ski areas and all are blasting snow with nearly every available piece of equipment.
Here’s some news from around the region:
SNOWSHOE – It’s 12° atop Snowshoe Mountain and I’ll bet the wind is howling through that wind tunnel they call a village! Laura Parquette reported a windblown powder surface. Winter is going full bore atop their 4848′ elevation. With the 6" of snow from last night that puts Snowshoe to 16" of snow on the season. Snowshoe also is making snow and will continue as long as temps allow. Snowshoe is offering 7 trails and 2 lifts.
TIMBERLINE – It’s 19° and snowing at Timberline! They have had 8" of new snow, 16" on the seasn and are also making snow in preparation for their December 6th opening. It should be B-O-M-B-E-R. (I have permission from the messageboard crew to use that term when it warrants!)
WINTERPLACE – It’s 20° and they are making tons of snow in preparation for their opening this weekend! They saw only a dusting of natural snow there but snowmaking it is full bore!
WISP RESORT – They are reporting 24° and 4" of new snow. That makes 6" of snow so far on the season and they too are making snow. Wisp is offering 3 trails for today with more opening PRONTO! It’s still snowing this morning up there!
CANAAN RESORT – They received 8" of new snow in the last 24 hours! They’ve had 16" so far and don’t open til right before Christmas.
WINTERGREEN RESORT – It’s 20° and the snowguns are blasting away from their star-wars like, automated snowmaking system! They are projecting a GREAT opening day on Saturday!
OBER GATLINBURG – They are making snow right now and are excited about getting opened ASAP!
APPALACHIAN – It’s 19° at 7:30am and they are making snow and made snow all night. According to the App’s morning report they were able to put down an added 2-4" of new, machine made snow and now have a 10-20" base and three trails open with eight terrain park features spread around. Appalachian has their ice rink open as well for pre-Holiday skating.
CATALOOCHEE – It’s 22° and snowing (the manmade kind) to the point that Cat is reporting an increase of 2-6" in base from yesterday. Tammy Brown writes, "On Tuesday we will be skiing on three slopes and two lifts, Intermediate Lower Omigosh, serviced by the Omigosh Double Chairlift, Beginners Easy Way and Beginners Rabbit Hill serviced by the Easy Way Triple Chairlift on a base of 16-22 inches and a machine worked surface."
Cat will be open from 1pm-10pm on Tuesday.
SUGAR MOUNTAIN – It’s 16° and as usual Sugar was the first to crank up their snowguns at the moment that temps dropped to snowmaking temperatures on Thursday. It doesn’t take Sugar long to crank out the snow and make a difference in ski terrain as they are reporting an increase in base of 2-4" (to 6-22" of base today) and an increase from the two trails open on Monday to FIVE open today! Sugar is open to the top.
Sugar wants you to know that Friday, Saturday & Sunday, December 7, 8 & 9, 2007 they will hold a Preseason Ski/Snowboard Cilinc which is three days of nonstop individual instruction and attention from top notch skiers/snowboarders and instructors.
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE REST???
The resorts that have not yet been open were busy cranking out the snow in preparation for opening ASAP. Here’s the details:
HAWKSNEST – It’s 16° at 7:30am and they too are blasting their slopes. Justin Grimes wrote, "We have begun making snow and will continue as the weather allows. Given the current weather patterns, it looks like we will be open December 7th for skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing. Please watch our website and webcam for updates. Check out our new website and let us know your thoughts. See you soon!"
SAPPHIRE VALLEY – It’s 27° this morning at Sapphire Valley. We haven’t heard for certain whether they are making snow or not, but we’d have to believe that they are. The last we heard they were planning to open December 16th. Call ahead.
SCALY MOUNTAIN TUBING – We have a call in to the guys at Scaly. The old ski area-turned tubing operation plans on being open each year in late December. We’ll keep you posted.
SKI BEECH – It’s 15.8° this morning (Wind Chill below ZERO) and Beech has been making snow since about 4pm on Monday afternoon. Beech is busy, scrambling with the late start to get the mountain open and we’ll update you guys ASAP. We do know that Ski Beech is talking of an exciting new look in our terrain park. Additionally, more airless snow guns were purchased to increase their snowmaking capabilities as well.
WOLF RIDGE – It’s 24° at The Wolf and Justin Blythe from over there wrote, "Hey Mike, As of 4:30 pm we are making snow! We hope the weather will hold… If we can get a good base going, we hope to open for the weekend."
We’re pulling for you Justin!
BEECH MOUNTAIN PLAYING THE CARDS THEIR DEALT
Beech Mountain can’t catch a break! Ever since Sugar began making snow and opened back on November 4th we began getting emails (and we’re sure they got some as well) asking questions related to why isn’t Beech making snow. We answered with the best, politically correct answer we could – you know like, "Beech is not the ONLY ski area not making snow." After all, while Cataloochee and Sugar cranked up their guns nearly a month ago…NONE OF THE REST DID. Not even Appalachian at that time.
Then another week or so of "worse than marginal temps" passed and Appalachian joined in by making snow at every opportunity and the questions came on again. "What is Beech waiting on?" We answered, "Beech is NOT the ONLY resort making snow." After all, other than Appalachian, Cataloochee and Sugar (and one burst of the snowguns from over at Wolf Ridge) NONE of the rest were making snow either. NOT Hawksnest or Sapphire Valley. However, all of the questions to us was about Beech.
Then yesterday, when every other ski resort in the state of North Carolina was making snow the moment that the temperatures dropped below freezing, Ski Beech was not. Man oh man did the emails come. Messageboard posts were fired up as well – all asking the question, "What’s up at Beech?"
I personally know a couple of ski patrol up there and even they were shaking their heads as to WHY was Ski Beech NOT making snow when the temperature up there at 11am yesterday morning had already dipped to below 23°?
PEOPLE, PEOPLE – take a chill pill! We didn’t even get this from the powers-that-be at Beech…but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Ski Beech and all of Beech Mountain was experiencing winds in excess of 50, 60 and even a burst near 70 mph! We received an email from someone "supposedly" in the know that "the boss" said that snowmaking would begin at 3pm on Monday and someone else posted that on the messageboard as well. When 3pm passed, good gracious did the emails pour in AGAIN! "What the &%$# is Beech waiting for?" Others wrote, "Does Beech just not care about their season pass holders?"
One rather unique, obvious "moon unit" even wrote, "Guys its karma. When you don’t care about your customers, nature will quit caring about you."
Oh Good LORD!
I guess that’s what you get when people perceive that you’re one of the biggest and arguably best ski areas in the state. I suppose it comes with the full package when other percieve that their favorite hill is "underachieving".
Every season I seem to have some general theme or cycle of concepts that seem to resurface with increased frequency, and this early in the season I have already written a few times about "PERCEPTION" so I suppose this is the season of perception. SOMETIMES perceptions are just simply wrong. Frankly I think Ski Beech is getting a bum rap.
TIMING is everything and you also have to play the cards you’re dealt. If there’s anyone "out there" reading this who thinks that Ski Beech would not love to be open and skiing with pristine conditions and 100% of their terrain open on October 31st – you’re nuts. Of COURSE they would have loved to have been able to make snow early and often, but these hills around here ALL offer unique climate and temperature variables and this start of 2007-2008 has ALREADY been challenging for Ski Beech. We’ve watched the weather stations scattered around the area and YES there have been some opportunities for snowmaking on Beech – but not consistent (two or three days straight) enough to do so.
WE HAVE BEEN BOMBARDED WITH EVERY QUESTION YOU COULD IMAGINE…
You can’t imagine all the questions that we get at SkiNC, and some of you guys probably think that we just "spout the party line" but that is not the case. We DO try to support every resort because each is unique and wonderful in their own way. However, when we receive 30-50 comments about this or that resort, we ask around and in a few cases we have been pretty critical. However there’s an old adage that is probably sufficient for today’s story and that is, "Until you’ve walked a mile in a man’s shoes…"
(I know that some will write me with sixteen variables of that adage…so go ahead.)
The point is that some have questioned us (who are nothing more than an independent reporting service) as to whether or not Ski Beech would be open if this or that ski area manager was running the show up there and that is like asking if Steve Spurrier could win football games at South Carolina. Oh wait! He’s AT South Carolina! For the record, so far he’s not beating the world. My point is that you can not judge things that way. Just because some coach is phenemenal within one set of variables, does not mean they will be great within another system.
The same is true in the ski industry. Ski Beech has nuances and issues that don’t apply elsewhere. Whether or not Beech Mountain has some real issues with water (we’ve received more than 100 emails from people on and off the mountain – even the guy who delivers BREAD up there – saying that THAT is why Beech has not made snow until it was PERFECT to get started) or whether Mother Nature has simply not be that equitable up on Beech Mountain yet this early in the season, or whether or not they are simply not as pro-active or agressive as this or that manager at this or that resort…BEECH IS BEECH. We love the place and we’re certain that THE STAFF up there is JUST as frstrated as any of us are that they have not been able to please every potential visitor with perfect snowmaking ops, etc.
The fact is whether they were the last ski area in the state to fire up their guns for the 2007-2008 ski season – THEY ARE RUNNING NOW and there’s talk that they might get some terrain open for this weekend! So chill out and enjoy what’s open and when it’s open and quit your belly aching!
JOE KNOW SNOW (and talks about Mother Nature’s Early Season Inequitable Play so Far)
Be sure to check out Joe Stevens’ Joe Knows Snow story on "What’s Up With Mother Nature?" It kind of references the fact that Mother Nature isn’t ALWAYS equitable with her temps and weather.
Until Next Time…Send your comments, photos and videos to: mail@skiSoutheast.com
See You On The Slopes!