Remembering Sky Valley Ski Area – by Scott Fagan

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Editor’s Note:  Be sure to read this morning’s first story located just beneath this story on today’s front page!

This week the old ski lift house and rental shop at Sky Valley fell victim to the wrecking ball. The building had been sitting vacant since the decision was made after the 2004-2005 season to permanently close the ski area. Unfortunately, the mild winters in recent years and other factors left the ski area with no choice but to call it quits.

Sky Valley wasn’t much of a ski area compared to most. The resort’s +/-210′ vertical drop and +/-15 skiable acres were laughable by national standards. But with black diamond slopes named "Gravity’s Revenge" and "Kamikaze," you would have thought it was Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The resort only had five trails with "Panorama," "Scooter" and a bunny slope, "Pokey," rounding out the bill. One chairlift serviced all the slopes except for "Pokey" which had a rope-tow. The snowmaking equipment was primitive and was never computerized and automated like the larger resorts.

The weather at Sky Valley was always unpredictable. One day it would snow and you would think you were in Colorado and the next day it would be like spring. You never really knew what to expect. Sometimes it seemed they would make snow at night, watch it melt during the day, and make more the next night in a constant battle with Mother Nature.

Despite the challenges, Sky Valley was a great place to ski. It was always a friendly, family-oriented resort with a dedicated staff that wanted to ski just as much as we did. No matter what happened, you could always be guaranteed one thing at Sky Valley — FUN!

As Georgia’s only ski area and the southern most ski resort in the US, Sky Valley had quite a draw. People from all over the Southeast flooded the resort on winter weekends. Almost anyone who grew up in the South spent at least a day or two of their lives skiing at Sky Valley. Those of us that went to school at Rabun Gap went up to "The Valley" to ski every chance we got.

Most of what was Sky Valley Ski Area has now disappeared and the few remnants that linger of the once thriving ski resort will soon be gone too. What will always remain are our memories of skiing at Sky Valley. We will never forget the little hill that could.

Scott Fagan writes for and operates a website dedicated to the Rabun Gap Nostalgia Society in Georgia and you can visit their website at:  Contributing photos by Scott Fagan and Keith Arnold

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