Check the SNOW REPORT this morning for full details.
The photo of the day is from the LONE ski area that was able to make snow this morning as of 7:30am. Cataloochee’s Hemphill camera shows snowmaking happening from the mid-station up at Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
Most every ski resort in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, not named Wolf Ridge made snow from Friday evening through late on Saturday. That short snowmaking window was helped by VERY cold temperatures that dropped lows into the teens and as low as 9° at Snowshoe Mountain. (Canaan Valley and Timberline bottomed out at 11° on Saturday morning. Sugar and Beech mountains reported lows around 12°.)
Those temperatures were AFTER most ski mountains in the region saw lows of 45° or more on Thursday, February 16th. So we went from 45° on Thursday morning, to 9°-12° on Friday morning and back to 35°-37° this morning.
Thus far, February has not been particularly kind to the snowmaking crews with only seven mornings of snowmaking temps and only TWO DAYS, where around-the-clock snowmaking could be implemented. Add in 1.5″ to 1.98″ of rain in the last week and a vivid picture begins to take shape. That picture is of just how fortunate we are to have the kind of slope conditions that are available across the region this morning.
Mountain Ops at most every ski area in the region ARE the heroes of the industry right now. With the lowest snowfall totals since 1948 and temperatures that would have caused numerous shutdowns in the past – snowmaking tech and snowmaking crews have shined all season long. It is truly amazing the job they’ve done.
Take A Tour For Yourself
A simple click around all of the ski resort live cams will attest to the fact that every resort in the region, with the exception of Wolf Ridge in Mars Hill, NC, has great, side-to-side coverage and plenty of good base depths to play on.
Check out the conditions at these resorts this morning:
The Virginia Ski Mountains Have Definitely Had Less Cold Weather to Work With, but they are fighting a great fight with yeoman’s work with making and maintaining snow.
By the way, check out the degree of slope on Winterplace’s snow tubing hill!
Check out Ober Mountain’s great conditions for Sunday!
…and then there is Wolf Ridge.
We don’t like to kick a sick, wolf-pup while he’s down, but we’ve seen this story play out too many times over the last couple of decades. We saw it happen back during the years of 2006-2008 at Hawksnest in Seven Devils, North Carolina. Due to all sorts of financial reasons (and battles with the Town of Seven Devils), Leonard Cottom decided to close up for good on July 22, 2008. Since then, Hawksnest only offers zip lining and snow tubing.
We saw it happen, first with the old Hound Ears Ski Area that finally closed in the early 1990s, and then the old Mill Ridge Ski Area (which operated from 1970-1995) closed after Boone, NC businessman, Johnny Council tried to make a go of it.
Those two ski areas never reopened.
We nearly saw things go bad at Beech Mountain Resort when during the 2000-2008 chapter in their 55 year history things were showing a ton of wear and tear. The resort was not being managed well at all. Thankfully, Ryan Costin took over the family business in 2010 +/- and immediately began overseeing infrastructure improvements and more. From the 5506′ bar to the Alpine Village MASSIVE makeover to the slopes, snowmaking and more – Beech Mountain Resort is now a leading ski area in the state of North Carolina and region…again.
Disaster Averted Because of a ‘Perfect’ Family
We saw it happen just a few years ago at Timberline Four Seasons Resort, when they closed up on February 28, 2019. The soap opera of issues that plagued that mountain (mostly named Herz) had many (and admitted yours truly) believing that it too was done for good. I caught a lot of heck for that opinion, probably not as much as I deserved, but after closing for a year and a half, and after being purchased by Chip Perfect, the CEO of Perfect North Slopes, Timberline 4 Seasons Resort became Timberline Mountain and boy oh boy are they operating as good as any resort in the region…and way better than most. Timberline Mountain’s fans (and neighboring homeowners) are the most ardent and appreciate of any in the entire Southeast and mid-Atlantic. Don’t believe me, just visit their Social Media page and scroll through hundreds of posts and read all of the comments of thanksgiving.
…and That Brings Us to Wolf Ridge Resort
Nothing brings out the passion (and ire) of skiers and snowboarders like when THEIR favorite mountain starts going sour. Every ski area manager and owner will tell you that even some of their most supportive fans will quickly turn mean if even one thing goes haywire. Too often, the ski areas don’t have anything to do with the issue. Case in point would be the weather. I’ve read so many negative posts over the years where visitors blame a resort for a stretch of mild weather and poor conditions.
However, when a ski area simply stops caring it becomes painfully obvious. Snowguns remain dormant when all other ski areas in close proximity are making snow. Trail openings are minimal when other ski areas close by are expanding terrain…and worse – they close up without warning.
We’ve received MANY (MANY) emails and some texts from readers and huge fans of Wolf Ridge asking us (SkiSoutheast) what’s going on. What’s going on is pretty simple and obvious. Wolf Ridge is having major financial issues. Those are not new. Orville English purchased the ski area in 1992 and things ran well for several years. When the new I-26 exit was created that made it easy for Atlanta and Asheville visitors to visit the resort, things looked up even more. Then in 2006-2007 Orville join forces with some local bankers and real estate investors to expand the resort and many improvements were made. New slopes, a new lift, new lodge and mountain top cabins had the place ready to ride into the future as a great ski destination option for skiers and snowboarders.
Then the financial crash of 2007-2008 hit and the years that followed saw all sorts of calamity and misfortune. Numerous real and rumored “new owners” surfaced only to fail and see English re-assume ownership. The resort terrain expanded and collapsed – all within a couple of seasons – and there was a fire that destroyed the new lodge and ski lift; there were lawsuits and threats of lawsuits; there were new owners and rumors of new owners…and more. (Sounds almost biblical.)
It got so bad that at one point (around 2014) after an outfit called Peak Resorts LLC claimed to have paid English $250,000 into a trust account towards a reported $9.8 million dollar purchase price – that Orville showed up at the resort with a sheriff’s deputy telling everyone that he was taking over operation of the resort.
Even over the last few years there have been claims and rumors of new ownership, but if their own website can be trusted, Orville English is still the owner of Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. See link.
We’ve reached out via calls to the resort to speak with Orville English and/or Johnny Goins for comments, but have not gotten call backs. There’s always two sides to every story, but when one side isn’t commenting…
It is safe to assume that almost all of the issues that are happening at Wolf Ridge are the very same issues that happened at Hound Ears, Mill Ridge, Hawksnest and other lost ski areas. It happened at Timberline and thankfully the community and the courts jumped in and remedied that with a sale to new owners with strong finances.
Hopefully, someone will come along with deeper pockets and offer a purchase price and then infuse some serious capital into Wolf Ridge Resort. It has as much potential as any ski resort in the region…but with limited weather patterns, you may not see investors willing to take the gamble there.
Time will tell.
After posting my Saturday, FirsTrax report, I received MANY emails claiming that somehow SkiSoutheast was putting lipstick on a pig and covering for Wolf. Evidently, someone hasn’t been reading our posts throughout the season. Sure, we are fans of Wolf, but there is no denying that things are not healthy there. In fact, of all of the ski areas in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, Wolf Ridge Resort ranks NUMBER ONE in one category – poor reviews. Check out these.
That said, I felt an obligation to share the best written email complaint to ME on Saturday:
Regarding all the terrible comments, as you called them, most of the underlying issues being called out are legitimate. The snowmaking is barely operational, a third of the snow they do make ends up in whales off the trails that never gets pushed onto the trails, the grooming consist of them driving over the snow whales that do make it onto the slopes and just grooming the humps (Broadway is just a series of rollers). No investment on the mountain since 2014, in snowmaking ( most of the guns are less than 100% functional plus most are covered in lichen and haven’t had any maintenance in years), they stopped putting bulbs in the lights (half of lower streak is dark for the night session), need a new pump/pump house, need new water lines, no new rental equipment, the lodge is run down, the catch net at the mid station is under grass. I’ve been a season pass holder for years and have seen a steady decline. If it wasn’t so close to my house and I wasn’t comfortable riding marginal conditions I wouldn’t do it. The terrain is great, if it is ever open, but the management/owner have quit trying. That little window back before covid when supposedly the resort had been sold and was being operated by someone else, there was a noticeable difference in the mountain ops. Grooming was better, snowmaking better, I was super hopeful, then the typical Wolf BS happened. Have you ridden there over the past 3 seasons? If you haven’t, you need to really go look around with an objective eye. The resort is rotting. I know your job is to pump up the region’s ski resorts and try to be the most positive supporter, but the shit at the Wolf is horrible. They are at the same place as Timberline a couple of years ago. Hopefully something positive will happen at the Wolf like happened at Timberline.
(I received 32 such emails on Saturday.)
I’ll leave you guys on this, more positive note. EVERY other resort in the region is making snow at every opportunity and the conditions right NOW are darn great considering. Most ski areas have most of their terrain open and available.
The weather pattern for the next 7-10 days is NOT looking conducive for snowmaking and we will probably see some deterioration of conditions so GET OUT while it’s great!
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