A Cold and Snowy Week Ahead is Perfectly Timed for the Upcoming MLK Weekend!

First Trax

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While night sessions of skiing and snowboarding had to be a bit on the wet side on Saturday, the rains stayed away for the day sessions at most of the ski areas. We were over at Appalachian Ski Mountain around noon with some family and friends and I may have been pelted with perhaps five or six rain drops and after that the skies looked ominous but it never rained another drop until about 6pm. That made for a great day of skiing and riding.

I was somewhat surprised that the lift lines were never more than maybe TWO MINUTES for the four hours that we were there and the snow was soft and conditions were near pefect on all of the runs that we hit. While App is small, their lift system does allow you to get back up top fast and often – and that makes for a lot of turns. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating that "pound for pound" Appalachian Ski Mountain is one well ran, phenomenally maintained ski area.

<Ryan Wooten and Grant Catoe of Watauga High School enjoyed conditions at Appalachian Ski Mountain!

I ran into some locals while riding up the lifts. Jim Wooten’s son Ryan and his buddy Grant were on the mountain on Saturday. We made a couple of turns with them and will work them into a video that will post up later on Sunday. We also met some great people from Lexington, S.C. and Mississippi while on the mountain on Saturday. While I wasn’t wearing in SkiNC or SkiSoutheast garb, some of my crew was and we kept being "recognized" and it’s always cool to meet people that enjoy what we do here.

The weather was on a lot of people’s minds on Saturday. Whether or not it might snow last night, whether or not we’ll see snow this week and numerous people were talking about this coming week’s COLD forecast.

It is forecasted to be a COLD one and that bodes well for all of the ski areas as they prepare for the MLK weekend crowds that perennially hit the region. Temperatures are forecasted to be in the 20s and 30s for HIGHS all week with low temps in the teens and 20s. Next Thursday night’s low is forecasted to be around zero and next weekend looks like HIGHS in the teens and 20s and lows near 10 degrees! Snow is also in this week’s forecast on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That should excite perhaps even more people than normal to head to the mountains for the long weekend and that will make for some strong skier visit numbers at all of the resorts.

That will go a long way to insuring a profitable bottom line and it is those revenues that allow the ski areas to reinvest in their product making for an even better skier experience for years to come. So this cold snap could not be happening at a better time for skier, snowboarders and the resort management teams!

Look for more and more terrain (slopes and trails) to open as we move into the middle of next week. The added terrain will help greatly to dispurse the heavier than usual traffic that we’ll see for next weekend. Those of us who call the ski areas "home" won’t be caught dead on the slopes next weekend, but we’ll enjoy the added terrain hopefully a day or two before most of you guys start arriving. At worst we’ll have more slopes to play on after the MLK crowds head home.

So look for perhaps the best ski and riding conditions of the season beginning today and moving through the week ahead.

It’s pretty foggy out via all of the webcams this morning and that is indicative of the moist wet conditions being hit with the falling temperatures today. Temperatures will get colder today and throughout this week ahead.

Here’s a quick tour of what to expect for Sunday. Enjoy the cold temps today and have a great one! We’re thinking of heading up to Hawksnest to check out their tubing park today. If any of you are heading that way, look us up!

We’re going to skip around kind of randomly today just to get some other ski areas up to the top of the report.

Wintergreen Resort – 28° – They’ve had one of the tougher fights against borderline weather this season. Thanks to some good snowmaking the other night they are looking pretty good right now and the forecast for the week ahead looks like it will be great so that should make for some super conditions for the upcoming MLK weekend. They have 12 of 26 trails open today and night skiing is available as well as tubing. Anne Marie Jones writes, "THE HIGHLANDS IS OPEN! Snowmaking weather returns today which will allow us to refresh trails and continue making snow in our Terrain Park and on Tyro. The weather experts are forecasting near constant snowmaking through the MLK holiday allowing us to open a lot more terrain over the next week. Bring it on! Sunrise will be closed today until around 3pm for a Collegiate ski race, welcome collegiate racers! Tyro should open Tuesday and our Terrain Park should open before MLK weekend. Until we get our Terrain Park open, we will continue to provide terrain park features on Upper Dobie. Our Terrain Park Staff have done a great job building the “upper dobie park”, come check it out."

Winterplace Resort – 28° – They are reporting "wet Packed Snow" conditions with some flurries this morning and temps that are expected to drop throughout the day today. Winterplace will have 20 of 28 trails open today and you may see some snowguns running later in the day. They have snow tubing open as well their terrain park.

Timberline Resort – 24° – They hosted their first Rail Jam of the Season on Saturday and we hope to get you some photos from that later today or Monday! Timberline has LIVE MUSIC for today as well as 19 of 37 trails for day skiing and riding only today.

Canaan Valley – 21° – It’s cold and already a bit snowy this morning at "The Valley". They will have 12 trails open for day skiing only on Sundays. Tubing is also open. 

Lisa Ratliff, Director of Sales at Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center wrote me about a very unique event that will be taking place up at Canaan on February 7th. You guys might want to make plans to check this out.

Canaan Valley Resort will host the first East Coast Airboard Race on February 7, 2009. They have partnered with Face Level to provide an exciting race, great prizes and lots of fun. They are also looking for sponsors if anyone would like to participate please let them know.

Snowshoe Mountain – 20° – We haven’t heard from any of the Snowshoe campers yet, but admittedly not many would have probably thought to tuck their laptops into their sleeping bags! We hope to get you guys some pics or video from the campout at Shavers Center. Sonny Gower from the Silvercreek side of the mountain had only this to say on Saturday, "The forecast for this week is a carbon copy of a forecast for a ski resort out west. I can’t wait!"

Well I GUESS SO! Snow and cold IS in the forecast for all next week at The Shoe. MLK is setting up nicely for those of you heading that way! Lots of snow and awesome conditions will be the norm.

Snowshoe has 53 of 60 trails open today and snow tubing, snowmobiling and more. Night skiing is available this evening on the Silver Creek trails.

Wisp Resort – 23° – As predicted, more trails are indeed opening as cold temps continue! Wisp had 26 trails open on Saturday and though they have not updated for Sunday as yet, they should have that or more open for today. One terrain park, 10 lanes of tubing and the mountain coaster is open as well.

Ober Gatlinburg has just had a time of it over of the last couple of seasons. They simply have not had the consistent temps to get a lot open and keep it open. They are the only ski area in the region open with thin coverage or bare areas right now and they will operate today with 4 of 8 trails until 7pm.

This next week’s forecast is a welcome sight to them as they may even get their entire mountain open in time for MLK weekend and if they can do it, that will be the first 100% opening in a couple of seasons. They invested in constructing a tubing park for this season (back during the off season) and just have not had the temperatures to make snow and get it open.

Massanutten Resort – 30° – If you saw Saturday’s forecast then "ditto" for today. They made snow and look for 10 trails open for day and night sessions, terrain park and snow tubing on 8 lanes of fun!

Bryce Resort – ditto for Bryce as well. For the second day in a row they were not able to make snow but will offer 7 of 8 trails, terrain park and snow tubing! They will make snow Sunday night.

Ski Beech – 26° – Beech is making snow right now and they have some sweet conditions for today! This Sunday marks the first event for Ski Beech’s Edge of the World Revival Series. It will be a Slopestyle event and registration begins at 10:30am at the Beechtree. The event starts at 12:30pm and will be $15 to enter and a $25 lift ticket for competitors. We are open from the top all weekend with live music from the Harris Brothers at the Beechtree from 9-12 tonight.

Hopefully we will get some good pics from the event.

Ski Beech will be open with 5 trails and Ryan Costin wrote that they expect to open additional terrain for the MLK weekend! He wrote, "After tonight I see one of the most positive forescasts in sometime. We are planning on trying to go back and create the base we had established before the rain washed it away. After that we are planning on moving forward and making a push to get more terrain open sometime next week. Our goal is to have more slope(s) and the tubing area open by MLK."

He added, "Also, live music will be highlighted next weekend for all guests and we are really working hard for the comeback of Winterfest."

It’s great to see Winterfest making a comeback up there. There’s nothing like the cardboard box derby and seeing bathing beauties skiing and snowboarding to bring about some added interest! Stay tuned for more details!

Sugar Mountain – 26° – Snowmaking is in progress at Sugar as well. They will have 12 of 20 trails open and more opening for the coming week. Snow tubing and ice skating are available today as well.

Cataloochee Ski Area – 30° – They are day skiing, snowboarding and tubing for Sunday. Look for 9 of 14 trails open for today with snowmaking resuming as soon as mid morning or at least tonight.

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 30° – No snowmaking occurred last night but that will happen tonight. App has both terrain parks open and ice skating as well as 8 of 10 trails. Hard Core and Thin Slice are the lone trails not open but look for those to be open by MLK weekend.

Wolf Ridge Resort – there’s been no report for a few days. We suspect that they’ll have 8 or so trails open and tubing open as well. We ran into some very nice people who traveled to Wolf from Ballentine, SC on Friday and they were pretty disappointed in the conditions. So much so that they left and drove to Appalachian for Saturday sessions. This is the first season in memory where simply nobody is talking at Wolf Ridge / Wolf Laurel. We’ve tried to get up with some of the crew over there, but things are awfully quiet. We’ve heard some rumors or talk about some of the developers not working together up there and that it might be affecting some of Wolf’s trail system, but again – things have been pretty quiet over that way. From what we can see this morning things look pretty decent for Sunday and of course conditions will only get better with the coming week’s weather. We’ll try to get you some word on Wolf this week.

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

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This is a group shot of the Heitman family from Blythewood, SC – They enjoyed a ski getaway at Appalachian Ski Mountain on Saturday as the rain stayed
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