Story and pictures by David McCue
Summit time, summit time, sum-sum-summit time. That’s the tune I’m singing; it might be called a mantra I suppose except it’s a lot more danceable than meditative; as will be the upcoming SkiSoutheast Snowshoe Summit. This event has some history now; it got off the ground twelve years ago with Snowshoe Mountain as the hosting venue, usually at the end of February or the first weekend in March. The choice of both venue and timing has proven to be perfect. The Summit has acquired its own momentum with a lot of people keeping that time slot open no matter what other plans they have for skiing in the region. I consider the timing between major holidays and most spring breaks to be ideal both in terms of crowd control and for the anticipation factor. The season will not be done on March the 4th; in fact, a lot of resorts will be able to keep lifts running well past their usual closing dates, some will hit April. But March is traditionally the final full month on a good year and the Snowshoe summit often feels like a celebration of the whole season. And a lot of people will be celebrating this year; as I write, the number has set a record with over a hundred people spending the weekend. That’s over one hundred of us, enjoying each other’s fine company, good skiing and all the percs that SkiSE and Snowshoe have arranged (thanks Mike, and thanks Snowshoe!)
You can still try to book today but even if you can’t take advantage of the whole package, just come for a day or a night. Check out the event schedule, we will be easy to find, and you will meet people from all over the southeast who love to ski and ride.
Open terrain, excellent lodging, and an easy place for a group, huge or small, to connect. The collaboration between SkiSoutheast.com and Snowshoe Mountain has proved to be a great one. Snowshoe is the Southeast’s major destination resort, a bucket list place for many southern skiers. It has the lodging, and the amenities to easily provide everything a party of one hundred could want. The mountain and village layout make it possible for friends, new and old, to gather, talk, laugh, and most importantly; to ski and ride. Right now, even after the passing of yet another monsoon, Snowshoe’s trail count stands at 59 of 60 trails, and 11 lifts open. If a decade long bet was made for good skiing in March this was the winner to pick.
Here’s what Snowshoe can do in a day. Cupp run was only a groomer track wide on late Saturday last summit. After one cold night, here is how it looked by the next day at 10 AM.
And that was before the new investments.
A lot of words have been written about how crucial excellent snow-making has become for the success of southeastern skiing; so, I won’t belabor the point too much except as it pertains to Snowshoe and the upcoming summit. While Snowshoe is blessed with a lot more snow than most of our region, it is the snow-making that has assured the summit’s success every March for twelve years; it’s a pretty remarkable stretch. Let me just quote from this announcement first shared at last year’s summit: In summer 2018, we’ll be putting nearly $4 million toward upgrades to our snowmaking and grooming technology. That they did; the 2018-19 season has already reaped the benefits and now the bumper harvest rolls on into March.
The Skiers come out at Night
A free lift ticket, discounted lodging, and hopefully a SkiSE beanie with the brand-new logo are all great (I liked the old logo too but it’s nice to have mountains included now as the other looked a bit like a beachball, although I collect them all.) However, Friday and Saturday night skiing, and Sunday morning First Tracks are the summit highlights for me. Friday night at Silver Creek officially opens the festivities.
I love it here
This is something special aside from all the other fun and is one of the best and most anticipated parts of my season. You’ve just arrived, settled your gear in your room and it’s onto the shuttle bus, through the ticket gate and then you just look around and there they are; friends who have shared this experience together for years. If you’re new, you just fall right into a brand-new happy tribe. Snowshoe has an outstanding set up for night skiing with multiple descents through pools of light. The Sugar Shack at the lift base makes meet-ups easy and things often continue later for a few beverages at Misty’s in the Silver Creek Lodge.
First Tracks or The Sunday Morning Land Grab
Here is a fan favorite. For those who love to bomb it (you know who you are) this is the opportunity for mach speed with no one in your way. And if you like to make sweeping descents, you’ll find brand new corduroy and all the elbow room you want, just follow Captain America, he won’t be hard to find. Basically, summit attendees get to show up at the Soaring Eagle lift at the top of Widowmaker forty-five minutes before the scheduled opening. There, instead of a red carpet and velvet chord, you find bamboo poles and orange nylon rope guarded by the red jackets of Snowshoe Ski Patrol, who give you the secret signal to pass through and make as many laps as you can manage. Daylight savings time often conspires, I think personally, against me. But by bringing a pre-set clock I have just made the photo shoot, and rope duck, in time now for several years. Although everyone else seems calmer and better equipped.
Come and join us!! I’ll have a green helmet and orange back pack, but it is my grin you will see first.