Cataloochee 1/02/06 by Dave McConnell:
Rain, Rain, Go Away……..
Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall……
Can you think of any other rain cliches?
I made it up to Cataloochee today and I every cliche about rain was rolling through my head. The clouds looked ominous on the drive up but no rain fell. That is to say no rain fell until I reached Maggie Valley. By the time I started up the mountain I was under a continuous drizzle and it was 64 degrees.
It takes more than just a little rain to dampen the spirits of the Catalooche crew though; myself, Mr. Stinky, GreshamB, SkiMastercraft, and outdoorwood were all out in the slopes today. We ducked in and out of the rain all day, riding when the rain would slack up or stop and running for cover during the downpours. Gresham and SkiMastercaft got an unexpected shower when the lift stopped and what looked like 100 gallons of water came pouring off of the bullwheel; lucky for them they missed most of the water and got hit by some of the oversplash.
What can I say about the conditions today? They just were not great, transitioning from wet mush to frozen hardpack and back continuously.
The weather, temperature, and holiday traffic all had combined to affect a lot of wear on Cataloochee’s normally superb surface.
Several large bare spots were opening up on the upper mountain, and some smaller ones were appearing down low.
Still good times were had, we laughed, we cried, we skiied.
Mark McKelvy was at Hawksnest 1-1-06:
I didn’t expect crowds today as many people would be sleeping in and I figured most of the "out of state" visitors would be headed back home, but just to be safe I went to Hawksnest. I had the usual front row parking spot and the weather was sunshiny and warm. There was some loose granular snow on top, but the snow underneath was pretty hard. I think the warm spell has caused a lot of melting and re-freezing. Soc-Em-Dog was opened since the last time I was there with all the park features moved over there. The new C-box and rainbow box are set up along with a flat rail, a flat down box, a rainbow rail, and a massive kicker. Top Gun is still not open and looks like it could use some loving from the snow guns when it gets cold again. I was not feeling too confident doing what I wanted to do (park stuff) on the snow due to the hardness so I left at around noon to see what else I could find.
Mark left Hawksnest and reports from Appalachian 1-1-06:
I was over at Hawksnest until noon and decided to go over to App to see if the snow was softer due to the lower elevation. It was. The snow was nice and slushy, perfect for throwing myself off jumps etc. The sun continued to shine and It was warming up quite a bit. There were no crowds on the slopes yet, but the ticket and rental lines were huge. Sure enough, slowly but surely, more and more "out of state" visitors made they way out to the slopes. I won’t go into detail about it as most of us know what it’s like to ski or ride with lots of people who don’t really know how to ski or ride, but I made the best of it, worked around them, and still had fun. I made runs until the day session ended and then wasted some time before meeting up with fellow SkiNCer Joe Harmon (aka Snowbird) and some of his friends for the night session. Riding is so much better with friends, and we had a good time. App re-groomed the snow and with the cooler night temps, it stayed good and fast. It did get a little crowded again, but it was manageable. So I met some new people, got some practice in, had some fun, and now my back is sore. Good times.
Ober Gatlinburg 01-01-06 David McConnell
I rolled the family out to Ober Gatlinburg today to celebrate New Year’s, and what a difference a day makes. Yesterday it was ultra crowded, today the crowds were non-existent. The weather was great, although downright hot by the time we left around 1 o’clockish.
The surface conditions were the same as yesterday, loose granular on top of hardpack. Mogul Ridge was groomed overnight, so the huge moguls of yesterday were gone. Lower Bear Run is beginning to show some thin spots, but a little creative grooming should keep it open a few more days. Hopefully by then we will see a return to snowmaking temperatures.
Even though we got caught in the Exodus from Pigeon Forge as we were coming home it’s hard to complain. Bright blue sunny skies, and a day of skiing with your family are a hard combination to beat.
Mike Edwards was at Sugar:
I was at Sugar Saturday and Sunday. The conditions were pretty good in the mornings and the crowds were thin. As the day progressed and the temperature warmed up the conditions deteriorated fairly quickly. The snow that Sugar meticulously grooms got pretty slushy and got moved off the hard base. One minute I was skiing on ice then went to a pile of slush and back to ice. It made for interesting skiing to say the least. The bright side was that I was able to work on my skills of changing conditions and really made me appreciate the better days. In Sugar’s defense they have no control over the weather and they ALWAYS start the day with the best trails in North Carolina. The afternoons brought more people and the trails got pretty crowded. This made for more interesting skiing, live obstacles to dodge. I did not make it up to Big Red but the folks I spoke with informed me that it was a solid sheet of ice. One fellow reported he loved it!
Now for the good news!!!!!! The weather forecast calls for cold temps later on in the week and the conditions should improve steadily after the rain passes. For the people that skied this past weekend, rest up and go to your favorite resort this coming weekend. Should be back to the conditions that I we have been spoiled with most of the season. MLK weekend should be good too but go early or at night if you don’t want long lift lines. Historically MLK weekend is the busiest time of the season.
Lorrie Tomlinson reports from Hawksnest:
On Sunday, I arrived at Hawksnest for the half day session. It was a clear, warm day with temperatures in the 50s. No wind was encountered. Neither were any lift lines. The snow was soft and slow, just as I had anticipated with the warm temperatures and skier traffic from Saturday. Conditions were still good and it was another great day at the Nest.
Tommy Dinkins reports on WISP:
I always my visits to Wisp and with the new additions things are even better. The lift for Main Street and the top of the mountain lift are rarely busy mostly because they service expert terrain. I like to ride up lift #1 and see that Boulder Run is scattered with bodies! I’ll venture over to the mainstreet area. I’ll hang a right before getting to the U turn at Boulder and go down under the tunnel and have some fun over there til the crowds thin out.
In my opinion it appears that the way Wisp is designed and setup, the majority of the people all head to lifts 2 & 3 as soon as they get their lift ticket. From there most of the crowds go down the two green trails (thankfully the expansion has cleared that up) with the rest going over to North Face and Squirrel Cage for tricks for those on the lift or those looking out from the lodge.
However there are alot of runs at Wisp that seem to be in plain view, but secluded. Beaver is a favorite of mine, as well as any of those wooded connector trails. It’s all about knowing what trails to use to bypass the crowds at the right time.
Mike Doble reports from Snowshoe:
As many of you guys know, I, along with 15 of my family and friends who all made our annual trek to Snowshoe over the Christmas / New Year’s break. The worst day of skiing was great…and that was on Sunday before heading home yesterday evening. We received snow three out of the last five days, cold temps that kept the snow firm and great conditions every day. Sunday, things got mild enough that skier traffic transformed the morning’s groomed conditions into a plethora of ice to snow to great conditions to a thick, heavy granular condition. As I said…it was still great…even though I’d say that Sunday’s conditions were the "worst".
Snowshoe has lots of natural snow everywhere, which adds to the enjoyment. There’s nothing like chilling with a beer at Yodelers Pub (slopeside) and looking out at snow-covered mountains everywhere. The conditions were near perfect all week, with maybe one or two thin coverage areas on the 57 trails during the mildest of days (Sunday) when temps hit into the mid-40s. Seven straight days of skiing near-perfect conditions will do wonders for a guy’s soul. Thanks to Brian Britton and Jim Shannon of Extreme Snowboard and Skis in Banner Elk for providing some equipment for my kids. Also thanks to Snowshoe for the three beautiful condos at The Highland House in the Village of Snowshoe. Thanks too to Ryan Dobbins of the Mountain Adventure Center at Snowshoe for giving me a hand when the bindings on my new Atomic SX-11’s broke. I skied the Race 8’s the rest of the week and although they were not as responsive as my SX 11’s they were certainly great – particularly on new snow or groomed conditions.
We will keep a log of the best reporter’s submission, photos and reports. Trust us it is way to time consuming to post every pic…but send them…because we are tallying the scores. The winner of the Best On Snow Reporter for 2005-2006 will win $1000 in cash, a FREE Getaway Vacation and more. The contest will run from now through March 1st and we will choose the winner. Our choice will be based on the following and IN THE ORDER of importance.
Quality of Photos
Quality of Reports (well written, informative, unbiased)
Number of Photo Submissions
Number of Reports
Extra points will be given for getting smiling faces in the photos and including names and cities where you can.
Extra points will be awarded for creative ideas.
We will choose the winner based on how helpful and informative the reports have been.
As of 01/03/2006 here are the top vote getters. (We will only document the top three to five here throughout the season…and we may begin posting the top ten, depending on how close results are.)
1. Lorrie Tomlinson
2. Dave McConnell
3. Kent Jackson
4. Mark McKelvy
5. Joe Harmon