Cameras and Grooming are Raved, Praised and Ranted About…

First Trax

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]  

<Snowmaking at Winterplace this morning! The LIVE CAM there is getting rave reviews!

I was looking at some statistical data this morning and in just the last two days we’ve seen visitors from 47 states looking at our LIVE WebCams and subsequently many of those visitors kicked over to the network. That got me to thinking of how these streaming cameras are promoting our great ski areas to the nation and the rest of the world in ways that we never could before.

The idea of the cams came primarily as a great tool to sale the conditions of the resorts to our visitors. A decade or more ago we had visitors emailing us every day asking if the conditions were really as good as we were reporting…(or in rare cases as bad).

Fast forward to the present and we rarely get emails asking what the resorts look like. The answer is simple – they can see it for themselves.

However another byproduct of the cameras that we really didn’t give a lot of thought to is the fact that these things are taking the message to the rest of the country. We’re blessed with a network of more than 70 meteorologists from around the Southeast and Mid Atlantic that use our cameras to show their audience what’s going on, but the combined presence of and has now made it such that we’re getting emails and inquiries from all over.

In just the last week, we’ve received requests to implement and install four new webcams and we expect that trend to continue. We’re pretty proud of the technology that we’ve figured out ahead of the national curve to bring LARGE FORMAT clarity to the world of webcam hosting. With just a decent internet connection we can deliver 800 pixel wide HD clarity to our viewers.

Our ski, webcam and weather network has been visited by 67,000 of you in the last two days alone and about 54% of those visitors are first timers.

The top states in terms of visitation to the website in the last 48 hours was certainly those where our ski resorts are operating. However in just the last 48 hours we also saw 2040 visitors from Florida – which tops the non-ski-area states.

In the last two days Texas sent us 153 visitors, Ohio 153, New York 128, Lousiana 81, Illinois 65, and California 51. In fact we had more than two dozen visits from most all of the 47 states we saw visitors from!

The only states we missed? Wyoming, Nebraska, Alaska, North and South Dakota. Maybe we’ll get those covered in the next two days.

As I am typing this there are 44 people LIVE looking at the cams. The King Street cam is the most popular among our visitors at this moment, followed by the Sugar Ski & Country Club cam. The Winterplace, Timberline, Massanutten and Bryce cams all come next.

We want to thank those of you who have partnered with us to make this happen. This season is about one-half the way over, but we commit to you that we’ll be taking this aspect of our outreach up another peg prior to next season. If a resort doesn’t work to implement LIVE camera streams and weather content, they are just sorely missing out on telling the world how great things look!


I’m feeling pretty good this morning and since TheKenDog has the reins of this daily blog except on the weekends, I won’t get into a finger pointing mode today. However as I checked my emails this morning I was semi-surprised to see numerous emails complaining about two ski areas in terms of talking about poor grooming.  These emails came from experienced skiers and snowboarders who are trusted and knowledgeable about how things should be.

I was impressed with those who wrote because all of them prefaced their notes with the fact that they knew that the weather has been the pits, but then they went into the fact that during visits to some of the ski areas this week that they encountered death cookies and large holes in the snow. Three people emailed me some photos that kind of had my head spinning of how in the hell a ski area could allow that to happen. One such pit in the snow was about five feet long and about a foot deep. If an unsuspecting skier or snowboarder came along and wasn’t paying perfect attention they could have really gotten hurt.

I know that ski area management and marketing people read this column so let me implore you guys to jerk a knot in your grooming teams and impress them to pay attention to detail. Both of the ski areas that received all of the complaints are located in North Carolina. While I don’t want to create a firestorm of crap throwing back and forth – I will promise if we get many more complaints in the next few days about this…we WILL POST IT.

Most of the resorts in the Southeast and Mid Atlantic do an AWESOME job of grooming and snow maintenance. We get so many praises from readers about the best of the best and certainly Snowshoe, Wisp, Winterplace, Sugar, Appalachian and Cat get most of the top heaps of praise. We’ve gotten a ton of praise-worthy emails about most all of the others, but two resorts are really catching a bunch of complaints in the last couple of weeks.

If you’re one of the marketing or management peeps reading this please have a look in the mirror and get this straightened out…

It’s easy to maintain snow when there’s tons of great temps and natural snow. When things are challenging is when the cream rise to the top. There’s plenty of base depths on the slopes and great side-to-side coverage at most all of the resorts. All of us who are snow enthusiasts understand when snow can’t be MADE, but it can always be worked to provide a consistent trail. SEE THE BEST OF THE BEST…and duplicate, please.

Otherwise the you-know-what is gonna hit the fan. We owe it to our readers to inform…and hopefully we can do nothing but report great conditions across the board.


Good to see clouds of snow bombing some of the resorts. Appalachian Ski Mountain had a manmade blizzard happening this morning They are reporting that they’ve added 5" of base across their mountain in the last 24 hours. I’m not doubting it because they can cover every square inch of their mountain at once with their snowmaking plant.

Beech Mountain is showing a 16° reading this morning and blasting their open terrain with new, manmade snow. They added a substantial amount of snowmaking mechanism to their operation during the offseason. They are reporting a growth of 2" of base overnight. They are reporting Packed Powder. I wish they’d tweak that to at least calling it Manmade Powder. Packed Powder is for God’s version of the white stuff. Beech looks to have done a very nice job of grooming this morning.

Sugar Mountain is reporting a growth of 2" of base and no doubt is looking pretty darn great this morning although they are reporting one less trail open for today and NO NASTAR event today. (They usually do on Sundays.) Sugar has 14 of 20 trails open.

We’re REALLY loving the Sugar Ski and Country Club LIVE STREAMING camera that we partnered to implement. Check out for some great lodging deals to get you in and off the slopes quickly!  

Wolf Ridge is blasting the slopes and although they are reporting 24°, we’re seeing the temp as 19.4°. They are open with 8 of their 22 trails for day sessions but no doubt looking better today after growing their base by 2".

Charles Stancil has taken on the marketing duties up at Wolf and he posted this morning, "While Mother Nature only teased us with snow flurries, we had the snow makers churning last night. So far, we have been making snow for about 10 hours and we will continue to do so as long as the temperature holds. We are expecting a cooler but sunny day today, so bundle up and come on out to enjoy the fresh snow on the mountain. We hope to see you on the slopes with us today!"

Bryce Resort hasn’t updated since Friday and their amazing streaming cam isn’t showing any snowmaking going on this morning. See:  

Massanutten is reporting 25° and they are getting in some great snowmaking right now. They have 10 of 14 trails open and looking pretty darn nice via their streaming cam at:  

<Massanutten had some fun last night with a great band playing Saturday evening!

The Homestead hasn’t updated anyone as far as we can tell, but at 23.9° we’re certain they are making snow! We are helping to implement a new LIVE CAMERA there this week so we’ll hopefully get more input from the HUGE Virginia resort coming soon. These guys offer but don’t really promote the fact that they offer skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing and snowmobiles…

We can report that The Homestead has 5 of 10 trails open today and a base of 26-30".

Wintergreen Resort is reporting 20° and ongoing snowmaking. They have 14 of 26 trails open and tubing.

Canaan Valley – 16° – They are making snow and also saw a bit more than an inch of new natural snow with snow falling both of the last two days. They’re open for day sessions only today.

Fab February Weekends at Canaan!:
Feb. 3-4 or Feb. 10-11: $69 per person/per night (lodging and lift ticket, inclusive). Space is limited. Call today!! Reservations 800-622-4121

Snowshoe Mountain is bragging (again) as they opened another trail to go to 54 trails open today. That’s the most terrain in the region and they are only making snow overnight. They are reporting 12° this morning.

One of our readers brought it to our attention (as if we hadn’t already reported on it) that this winter has really favored the WV ski areas. However he did illustrate the weather discrepancy by sharing that Snowshoe has 54 trails open when:

Every resort in NC only has 58 total.
Every resort in VA only has 37 total.

West Virginia has 118 trails open

Timberline is making snow and looking great.

Winterplace Resort is blasting the trails with awesome snowmaking as you can easily tell by what everyone is telling us is their favorite live camera stream in the area. See:  

Winterplace is looking awesome with 25 of 27 trails open.

Wisp Resort is showing 22° and lots of snowmaking happening. They are open for day sessions only today with 26 of 32 trails.

Ober Gatlinburg is making snow at 32° and there is a manmade snow cloud of it going on! They are open til 7pm this evening with 5 of 9 trails open as well as tubing and ice skating.

Sapphire Valley – It’s 32.4° there this morning but there’s no report from them as to whether they’re making snow or not. They closed on the 23rd due to the rains and warn temps and haven’t updated anyone since. 

Appalachian Ski Mountain will also host a Snowman Building Contest on Sunday, January 29. Appalachian has designated a special snow-play area on Avery’s Appal and will have it stocked with plenty of snow for Sunday’s Snowman Building Contest.

Families and Groups of up to 5 people can sign up for the Contest beginning at 9:30 in the Main Office on the lower level of the Base Lodge. Registration for this event is FREE, but limited to the first 25 groups of people that sign up, so don’t be late!

Appalachian will supply standard Snowman accessories (coal & carrots), extra flair is encouraged and can be brought in by the groups registering.

The Snowman Building Contest will be held from 10:30 until Noon and awards for Snowmen will be given immediately thereafter.

Check the snow report page for all of the resort slope conditions at a glance. See:  

Email me if you like at [email protected] . I always like getting your comments.

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Massanutten Resort was a hopping busy place on Saturday with great snow on the slopes and bands in the lodge!
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