There is still (projected to be) over a month left of skiing and riding in the Southeast . . . that’s five more weekends for the working-man. A marked shift happens after Presidents’ day weekend, where you will see reduced lift lines but still all the great terrain open for business. Resorts will usually start rolling out deals for 2022-23 season passes, soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
With the doom-and-gloom that was forecasted for this week, I wanted to challenge the status-quo and be a foul weather junkie, for a change.
Monday, February 21st – Wolf Ridge
We all know that December was a bit rough for the region, but January seemed to do an “about-face” which turned out to be spectacular. Just recently though, Wolf has had some mechanical problems with their quad chair as the bull-wheel broke, and there isn’t lift-service to the top of the mountain, currently. I wanted to patronize these guys and made the short-trip there on Monday.
I’m training for the upcoming Ober Gatlinburg SkiMo Challenge on Sunday, March 6th as part of the Ober Gatlinburg Spring Fling series of events. The course this year is going to be a longer (trail) loop than last year . . . which will require a bit more fitness (as opposed to relying as much on skin transitions).
Figured I would take this opportunity to build that fitness and get some training high-up on Wolf Ridge, where one patroller said, “there is still a ton of snow up there!” The patrollers there are great by the way, and as a disclaimer, I check-in with them every time I want to get-in some uphill laps.
I lapped Eagle -> Midway -> Viewfinder more times than I could count, and it ended up being a fantastic training day.
What goes up must come down . . .
The new façade to the mountain is sharp, as they reconditioned some old chairs to be a nice centerpiece to the entrance.
Tuesday, February 22nd – Cataloochee . . . Cherokee phrase for “wave upon wave (of mountains)”
After my legs were a little shredded from yesterday’s “suffer-fest”, I went for some lift-served runs and used one of my Indy Pass Days at Cataloochee. I was looking to get in some solid runs before any “under-developed snow” began to chip-away at the base depths, this week. The great thing about Cat is the variety of terrain options for your ‘snow-vehicle’ of choice, especially when 100% of the mountain is open.
If you’ve never been to Cat, THE run for snowboarders, from the top of the mountain is (intermediate) Upper Snowbird -> (intermediate) Lower Snowbird. The neat thing about both of these runs are the side-hits which act as a mini-quarter pipe down the entirety of the runs. From there you have the choice of two terrain parks . . . One on (intermediate) Richards Run and the other on (easy) Upper Turkey Trot.
Both of these runs dump you out onto (easy) Turkey Trot, and funnel you down to the bottom.
One of the more premier runs for skiers, looking to test their speed, is (advanced) Alley Cat. This is the run that hosts the Thursday night race series and the Youth Race League on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
I got a couple of runs on Alley Cat and even got some good footage of my wipe-out, when I leaned my edge over a bit to hard into the soft snow! Trying to push the envelope for Thursday night race training . . .
I wouldn’t call myself a good Telemark Skier, but I do kinda enjoy it. Imagine doing lunges down the mountain . . . rinse and repeat, until your legs go a bit numb. As an intermediate, I stick to nice open cruisy runs like (intermediate) Rock Island Run to (intermediate) Lower Omigosh. With this combo you have all the space in the world, especially on a weekday.
There ya have it . . . two resorts, four (snow)sports, in two days. Each resort offers a little different flavor, and terrain, but each has a lot to offer. Now, I need a rest day to freshen-up the legs, but I can assure you, my next ski day will be soon, despite the weather.
Get out there and enjoy it. Life’s not so bad even on a soggy-foggy-groggy week, here in the Southeast.
See you on the mountain!