Spring Skiing 101 and Announced Closing Dates!

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Here’s a couple of quick notes for the morning before we get to the main part of the column.

WOLF LAUREL IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON.  They made that decision early enough so that anyone planning to ski there this weekend could make alternative plans.

WELCOME Sara Lovejoy of Wintergreen!  Sara replaces Frankee Love as Wintergreen’s Communications Contact.  She has spent the last few years working for them parks, most recently with Paramount ’s Kings Dominion. Sara plans on keeping us supplied with good photos and Wintergreen “happenings” so we’re excited to be working with her.  Good luck with your new position Sara!

On to today’s column –

Every winter I receive a ton of email and most of it is about the weather.  The questions come in a gazillion different forms, but they all relate to the same basic theme – “Will it be cold enough, snowy enough, perfect enough for MY ski trip?”

Everytime it warms to a POINT 5° reading over the normal high, the emails change to – “Will there be any snow left?”

This time of year they change slightly to – “Now that the snow is all melting away, when will the ski resorts close?”  The one that I like is like the one I received yesterday from a guy in Orlando, Florida who asked, “I’m planning a trip to NC around March 26th.  Will this snow last until my trip?”  …and of course my personal favorite is the lady who earlier in the season asked – “I have never been to the mountains and we have a trip planned in June and I was wondering which ski resorts would be open at that time?”

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  Joe Stevens referenced this subject in his “Joe Knows Snow” column posted yesterday so I won’t steal his thunder – read the column – but suffice to say that this is one subject that will never been addressed enough because so many new people hit this website every day and they HAVE TO BE EDUCATED to what most of us regulars already know. So here’s the lesson for today:

Spring Skiing 101 –

Spring skiing is great because a WHOLE lot of people have NO idea that the snow sticks around well enough to offer plenty of skiable terrain.  Therefore for those of us who DO know this…we get to ski the slopes with little or NO lift lines.  I’ve often made MORE turns on a Spring skiing day than I could count.

Spring skiing is great because you can ski in a long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt and we’ve often seen many making turns in shorts and tank tops.  As Joe Stevens said in his column – the eye candy can be R-E-A-L-L-Y nice this time of year.

Spring skiing is great because the snow is soft and easily carvable.

What regulars know is that it is RARELY the amount of SNOW left on the slopes that forces ski resorts to close.  MORE OFTEN it is the amount of PEOPLE left to ski those slopes that forces them to close the doors on the season.  I remember one year playing golf up at Hawksnest in JUNE and seeing some residual snow left over at the top of the mountain where they had piled it up. (Uh-oh, that lady asking about June skiing is going to get all confused again!)  Anyway, my point is…that there is PLENTY of good snow on the trails.

Last night I was reading some of the messageboard posts and some people were posting the weather for the next week and making statements to the effect that “all the snow is melting and there won’t be any around for this weekend”.  Some of the SMARTER messageboard members were laughing as they were typing responses that “AGREED” with those people.  Why?  Because they were SLY!  They wanted all the snow for themselves!!! You guys on the messageboard are a trip!

Just know that if you want to see the resorts stay open longer…keep making trips to the resort of your choice.  Check the photos of the day and the webcams.  The Photos of the Day ARE NOT promotional images that were taken weeks ago.  They are just that – PHOTOS OF THE DAY. One of our On-Snow Reporters, Lorrie Tomlinson, emailed me this morning and she said that she read the messageboard posts about “all the snow being gone” and she wondered in writing if she had DREAMED the experiences that she had on the slopes on Tuesday.  Of course she was being facetious because WE WERE ON THE SLOPES YESTERDAY AS WELL!  I made a trip up to Ski Beech last night and there were NO thin coverage areas or bare spots.  The snow was firm (a little too firm in some places!) and there was side-to-side coverage on all 14 open trails.

The truth is – it’s a little earlier than usual to be talking about Spring skiing, but the mild weather is here and I guess we need to address it.  Now to the NEXT most often asked question of yesterday —


Let’s address that this way.  Right now, the resorts in the best shape due to the weather, snows and temps that they’ve had over the entire season and particularly in the last couple of weeks are those in West Virginia and Maryland . I’m sure that at least one or two of my North Carolina “brothers” will hate that I am saying this, but the truth IS the truth. While the NC Ski Areas has had to fight the up and down nature of the temps over the last few weeks…the resorts north of North Carolina and Tennessee have simply had more stable cold temps and deeper snows.  They have ALSO had more consistent snowmaking opportunities.  That is one of the reasons that we’ve given ONE unnamed resort a bit of heck for reporting base depths greater than all other ski areas of the Southeast and equal to Wisp Resort’s totals and yet this unnamed resort was showing bare spots the size of Volkswagens on their trails last week. (We’ll let you do the research and figure that one out!)

So regarding the conditions and how the resorts will ride out the next 7-8 days of mild temps and maybe even some rain…here’s our call. If you’re thinking about a ski trip to West Virginia or Maryland…don’t fret it…conditions will be quite fine and they have plenty of snow to stay in quite good shape for another two-three weeks and with the return of some cold temps a bit more than a week from now…they should stay in good shape until each of their announced closings into late March and April 2nd for a couple of them.

The Virginia resorts are fighting it a little bit more.  Wintergreen is planning on staying open for their festivities on April 1st and 2nd. They have their annual Wicked Huge Park Party going on that weekend and they are making snow at every opportunity and plan to keeping fighting and make that target date.  For the record…they look VERY nice right now and with the help of an additional night or two of snowmaking around the 18th-20th should make their dates.

Bryce Resort in Virginia plans to shut down March 19th and they will make that date.

Massanutten Resort in Virginia has been making snow at every opportunity and they too have an announced closing date of March 19th.  Next week they will be day skiing only until the weekend and then offer day and night skiing on that last weekend and close at 4:30pm on the 19th.

The March 19th date seems to be a good one for timing the snow and weather that we’re experiencing and really without any additional snowmaking resorts can make that target date. Things could get a little sketchy those last couple of days but again that would be well timed.

North Carolina Areas Try to Make the March 26th date –

Some quick notes and updates are needed here.  WOLF LAUREL IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON.  They made that decision early enough so that anyone planning to ski there this weekend could make alternative plans.

Over the last week we have already alluded to the fact that Hawksnest is operating on their late season scheduling. They plan to reopen for this weekend and they look QUITE NICE right now (see the live cam) and they will be in pretty good shape for the weekend.  Although they have announced that they will open weekends only until closing…this COULD be their last weekend.  One look at the weather ahead leads us to that assumption.  We could be in error and we’ll keep you updated.

Ski Beech never really let’s us know too far in advance of closing dates but they DID make snow last night and as I mentioned before…conditions were firm but nice with good coverage last night.  They will unquestionably start showing some thin coverage during the next few days of mild temps.  However they have enough snow and will be able to offer good skiable terrain through AT LEAST March 19th if they want to.  Ski Beech could pull a quick closure and close this coming Sunday…and just as easily they could decide to go to March 26th.  Unless we get some cold or snow, the 26th might be tough to make it to for them so this weekend or the 19th is the most probable date.

Appalachian and Cataloochee have the best snow in the state.  They are planning to go to March 26th and if we don’t get any snow or cold between now and then, they will be sketchy towards those latter days…but they have GREAT coverage right now.  Appalachian will definitely make their target date of the 26th.

Will Winter Make a Return Soon Enough or Be Prolonged Enough to Make a Difference In Keeping Resorts Open?

That is the question on everyone’s mind this morning.

Forecasters are saying that Winter-like temps may make it back into the Western North Carolina Mountain by next Thursday or Friday…but will they be cold enough or prolonged enough to make a difference for some NC Ski Areas? Timing has been everything this winter and we think that the timing may be too late for some ski areas while Appalachian and Cataloochee should be able stick it out to the 26th as planned.

So quit worrying about whether or not the weather will melt the snow.  THERE’S PLENTY OF IT for resorts to ski for the next few days to few weeks (depending on closing dates) with good Spring conditions.!

Until Next Time!

Be sure to check out www.SkiSoutheast.com  for more news and stories for all of the Southeast’s ski areas.

Be sure to email photos, snow reports and comments to: [email protected]

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This is a nice shot of Rabbit Hill from the base area at Cataloochee Ski Resort on Sunday – Photo by Dana Bolden
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