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by Joe Stevens

Hello everyone –

Last week my thought process for the column was around the fact that the 2022-2023 season was probably coming to a quick end as it looked like Mother Nature had forgotten it was still winter.

This week, after a weekend trip to Snowshoe Mountain, I might have been jumping the (snow)gun a little bit.

But before I get into that thought process, I wanted to share a report from a winter sports friend of mine that I have enjoyed sharing time on the slopes this season.

The report is from Chase Petry of St. Albans, West Virginia who was able to have some fun in Tucker County recently and sent me the following report.

First and foremost, the mountain staff at Timberline deserve recognition for their outstanding work in preserving snow in this unseasonably mild winter. On my drive up from Charleston I thought it was going to be a terrible day skiing, it rained the entire trip and I even considered turning around and heading back home. I was very satisfied to see snow falling on my arrival even though it didn’t stick around for very long.

The mountain was bustling with people on Saturday, February 25 and the lift operators kept everything running smoothly. There was a great patroller presence and the ones I encountered were friendly and helpful. They had to take one patient off the mountain on a sled and they made quick work of the operation. They train hard and I appreciate their ‘always ready mentality’ as I am a City of Nitro, West Virginia Firefighter, when I am not on the slopes.

The lift operators did a fantastic job, even in the peak mid-day hours; I never waited more the 7 minutes for a quick ride to the top.

Snow conditions were better than expected with some thin cover in spots, but overall, the trails were pleasant and very usable considering temps well over 50 degrees for a week or more prior to my visit. Timberline had 18 of 20 runs open with “The Drop” being one of the runs not to survive the weather. I will be very surprised if high traffic runs such as Twister and parts of Salamander are able to hold up to the week to come, unless Mother Nature provides.

It seems Timberline has recognized this and have announced an upcoming midweek suspension in hopes of extending the season and salvaging what is left.

The lodge was full of people taking a break from the slopes and seemed to be well staffed a well-kept. I stopped in for a couple cold beers and some boneless wings and again the staff kept lines moving and food quickly pouring out.

I did drive over to take a quick look at Canaan Valley Resort and Whitegrass Touring Center while I was in the area, and it appears they haven’t been quite as successful in preserving their trails. Whitegrass generally does a great job at saving what snow they get but does rely 100% on natural snowfall, so it looks like their ski season may be at an end.

They are leading natural history walks daily and the kitchen is open and if you haven’t eaten there you are severely missing out! I rented a set of telemark skis from there for the day and the staff was very happy to have a visitor – they were friendly as always. Canaan Valley is open for operation but only with 50% of their trails, and their snow tubing park was open.

All in all, it was a great, safe day on the slopes, which beats any day you have to play at your real job.

Always great to hear firsthand from somebody on the slopes. I realize Mike Doble gets these types of reports on a daily basis, but this is the first time in my 18-years of writing this column that something like this popped up in my inbox. Thanks Chase. By the way, I agree with Chase that if you ever get a chance to eat at White Grass Touring Center, you will be doing yourself a big favor.

Now let’s get back to this week’s topic, and that being that this season is stilling hanging in there.

First off, kudos to the mountain operations staff at Snowshoe Mountain. This is the time of year when ski resorts basically say the heck with it and whatever snow is left on the trails, was what was going to be used for skiers and snowboarders wanting come spring skiing.

What I found when I arrived with my son and a friend of his on Saturday was that snowmaking was occurring in full force. Some people probably didn’t appreciate the fact that the guns were operating, but as a resort official told me, they were going to do what they had to do make the season last as long as possible.

Folks this is not an ego thing at all because the conditions were a bit variable, but the coverage was tree line to tree line.

Snowshoe Mountain isn’t the only resort taking advantage of the cold snap as I have seen guns operating at other resorts in the region also. Again, at a time when snowmaking operations usually aren’t occurring what so ever.

I am getting the word that it looks like the season is probably going to last for at least a couple more weeks, so even though you might have already cut your grass, there is still a chance that you can make some more turns for the 2022 – 2023 ski season.

What I do recommend is to check out if you are planning one more trip this season, it will put your mind to rest that there is enough snow to slide on and have some fun.

That’s it for this week, again thanks for joining me for my weekly ramblings. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Be safe and “Let Gravity Be Your Friend.”

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