It is another beautiful Sunday morning in the mountains and today is my day to ramble. So be sure to check out the SNOW CONDITIONS. Every resort that wanted to made snow. Conditions will be stellar for today and really all week. Sunny skies will prevail today across every ski mountain in the region. We’ll see somewhat colder than normal temperatures today and most of the week ahead. In between those gorgeous blue skies we will see some light snows on Monday night into Tuesday across the Virginia and WV mountains and another shot at some light snow into next weekend. If we see any snow at all next weekend, that will be the fifth weekend in a row with snow in the mountains.
So translation: If you are reading this, then that means you are a snow-loving, skiing or snowboarding soul and the conditions at every ski mountain in the southeast and mid-Atlantic is calling your name. Get your rear and your gear up here and enjoy peak conditions today and all week.
The photo of the day up top is from Lynn Swann at The Omni Homestead Resort in Virginia. Scroll below to see another sweet shot from The Homestead.
Let’s get to the Sunday Ramble…
Saturday was yet another capacity day at MANY of the region’s ski resorts. I drove by Sugar Mountain a couple of times on Saturday and the parking area out on Hwy 184 was jam-packed. There’s no question the slopes were BUSY. I received some texts from various ski areas during the day alerting that they were sold out. So were the local restaurants at lunch and for dinner. It was great to see these great conditions were being rewarded with heavy crowds. The last five weeks have been awesome in terms of conditions and skier visits across the region.
What About Oz?
I received four different emails on Saturday asking ME, “Why the Oz Run at Beech was not open yet?” For those unaware, “The Oz Run” is that “rare breed” of a slope, located atop Beech Mountain Resort that only opens briefly, and not every season. Most every resort in the region has a couple of slopes like that (that they don’t or are not able to get open each year). For Beech Mountain Resort, that slope is “Oz Run”. As popular as that little slope is, it isn’t really “all that”.
It’s kind of a nice glide run…not too flat, but not steep at all. It is even a bit of a clumsy trek from the top of the Quad lift, over a never-well-snow-covered, wooden bridge to get to. Yet people ask us about it all the time. I’m sure Beech’s people are asked about “when they will get it open” as well.
One reader sent me the screen capture above, which is a snippet from Google that seemed to indicate Oz Run being open, but I guess they failed to see the January 16, 2021 date. Google has algorithms that calculate popular searches on the internet and I guess enough people ask about Oz Run that Google themselves provide that snippet of an “answer” which coincidentally enough was pulled from a story/post that we did LAST season that was titled, “When is a ski resort 100% open, but not?”
Oz Run is one of those ski trails that all ski areas have. I ran into a good friend on Saturday, who happens to be one of the local ski area’s top brass and we were talking about trails open at his place, and I mentioned that Beech was 100% (except for Oz Run) and then I said, “I guess every resort has those kinds of trails”, to which he countered, “Hell, Mike, Wolf Laurel has six of them.”
I won’t share my buddy’s name because of the slight and because he called Wolf Ridge “Wolf Laurel” – which is what it was called from 1970-2005.
He’s not wrong though. (We receive numerous emails every season from people asking why Wolf Ridge only operates with 8 slopes, when THEY claim to have 14 or 15, depending on which bit of marketing material you look at.
(I told you I was rambling today. However, I digressed a bit more than the usual ramble.)
Oz Run is that one slope that is a bit “off the snowmaking path” where they get to it ONLY when and if there is so much snow across ALL OF THE OTHER trails that they can afford to devote the time and energy to make snow on that “lonely” side of the mountain.
December was such the pits weather-wise that every resort simply made snow on their core trails to keep those open. It has only been five weeks since there was almost no snow on any trail and many ski areas were temporarily closed. If things keep up like the are right now – for the rest of the season, we will see Oz Run open. However, bear in mind that ski areas pay attention to long-range, weather patterns and if they see that their best interests are to focus on the main portions of their mountains…some of these “extra frill trails” will not open up.
(Now as for when and if any more than eight ever open up again at Wolf, that is a subject for another day.)
Talking a Little Snow News…
Okay, I’m stealing a little of Joe Stevens’ space when I share a subtitle like “Snow News”, but it’s appropriate for this part of today’s ramble. It snowed again on Saturday. While most of the region saw 1-4″ of snow Friday evening that ended by Saturday morning, Canaan Valley Resort picked up another 1.1″ of snowfall. The two-day, snow event for Canaan Valley totaled 4.7″ according to David Lesher’s Canaan Heights, West Virginia weather station.
David’s station is at 3,715′ in elevation, which makes it the highest in elevation of ALL 500+ COOP stations in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia – with the lone exception of Snowshoe’s station at 4848′. (Interesting, David doesn’t include North Carolina in his claim, since Beech Mountain’s weather station is at 5,049′ in elevation.) I always wonder WHY Beech doesn’t have a station atop their 5,506′ peak.
I’m going to channel my “inner Andy Griffith” now by saying – there I go digressing again.
Back to Canaan’s snowfall. January was a snowy month. The total January snowfall of 50″ made it the greatest January total since the winter of 2010-11 when 72.5 inches fell – according to Lesher’s data.
With that 4.7″ of snow that just fell atop Canaan Valley yesterday, that brings their total snowfall to 67.8″ on the season and THAT is actually almost TWO FEET LESS than the long-term average for this date.
While on the subject of “long-term averages”, Canaan Valley, Timberline, nor Snowshoe has hit their long-term average snowfall numbers (180″) since the 2012-2013 season. In fact, they have not had a season with more than 115″ since the 2014-2015 season.
We will cover this popular subject more in the coming weeks. However, for now I KNOW I will receive some emails about the rest of our ski mountains and how they’ve fared with natural snowfall. Here’s a bit of a tease:
Beech and Sugar Mountain – have seen their annual snowfalls hit their long-term average of 78″ on EIGHT of the last seventeen years…including last season, while the WV ski areas fell nearly 75″ short of average. Crazy how these frontal patterns drop snow within the region. More on that subject later.
Speaking of “Speaking Of” Snow-Loving Souls…and Being a Different Breed.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, on Saturday I was having a conversation with a buddy of mine who also happens to be a top guy with one of the local resorts. Bear in mind that the temperatures didn’t rise above the low 20s on Saturday and it was cold as we were just standing there and running our mouths. Another guy walked up on us and said, “Well fellows, it looks like you guys are just gonna talk the talk; I’m going to go shred some of that gnar.”
My buddy looked at me and said, “We are a different breed, aren’t we?”
He wasn’t wrong. While most people might be hunkering down in front of a warm fire, here we were – all red faced from the cold winds chapping our faces, lips were chapped and frost from the snowmakers was sticking to our beanies. I had to chuckle at the guy’s mention of ‘shredding the gnar’ though, because that term is usually used when hitting up some good powder. While we DID just get 1″ of snowfall, there wasn’t any powder to speak of anywhere on that mountain.
Maybe a more accurate comment would have been – I’m gonna rip these freshies. The cool thing is that over the last five weeks, we have had plenty of opportunities, right here in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic to “Smash some pillows!”, “Send it!”, “to Shred that Gnar!”, and even to “Slay some Pow!”.
Yep, we are a different breed. Around the same time that all of the Oktoberfest celebrations are ending and the Woolly Worm has predicted the coming winter’s forecast and the last autumn leaves have dropped from the trees – and at about the same time that we start drinking pumpkin-laced beers around a fire – those of us who live and breathe skiing and snowboarding (and all things snow) find ourselves speaking a little differently.
While I’m personally not prone to use too many of the slangs – I’m still ‘guilty’ of dropping a couple of phrases like:
Man, it is PUKING snow!
Dude, it is bombing right now!
C’mon let’s make some S’s.
For most of us, those influences came from being raised for at least the last 30 years on Warren Miller and TGR films. You can’t go two minutes into any of those films without hearing one of the hard-charging participants, hucking a cliff, tree or roof of a house or car. Regardless, I think snowsports and the “different breed” of humans that enjoy it – keep us younger than our years.
Here’s to another few decades of that kind of enjoyment.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort has been down a few trails on Saturday and again today as The Soaring Eagle lift will remain closed today due to a mechanical issue. Look for trail closures in that area. They are working to get it back up as soon as possible.
Omni Homestead Resort
Lynn Swann posted this appropriate message this morning:
Today (and every day), we salute our groomers. These unsung heroes make sure our guests have great conditions for skiing and snowboarding. These beautiful pics were taken yesterday around 6:30 p.m.
They were our Photo of the Day as well. Thanks Lynn!
We are getting a bunch of emails asking about Timberline’s webcams. They are down right now because their phone lines are still down. Not sure of the timeline to get them back up, but I know they are scrambling because a ski resort without phone lines is…. [sorry, technical difficulty. haha.]
They ARE 100% open for Sunday with some sweet conditions for sure.
In Closing – I am certain that Joe Stevens will comment about the “snow blowing” going on at the Olympic venues in China. However, I have to add my two cents in here. I was reading a story about how ALL of the snow being made by TechnoAlpin for the Olympics is “artificial snow”. The world news reporters are making a huge deal out of the fact that so much energy and effort is going into “blowing artificial” snow. CNN was calling it “FAKE SNOW” at precisely the same time that TechnoAlpin’s rep was sharing their “snowmaking” efforts.
I have to admit that I was surprised to see that the average snowfall in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou (where most of the events are taking place) is only 7.8 INCHES annually. On top of that, the region, including Beijing itself, which will host a few outdoor events, has rarely seen February days below freezing in the last 30 years – according to a recent Slippery Slopes report led by Loughborough University in London on how the climate crisis is affecting the Winter Olympics.
So WHY are they hosting the Winter Olympics???
Here are some last sharables:
That will do it for me today. Email me at [email protected]
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