Spring Skiing! There IS SNOW out there!

First Trax

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After a great weekend of skiing I was driving home down through West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and then North Carolina and I was increasingly amazed as the thermometer onboard my car kept rising. We started out around 11:00am at 64° at Snowshoe Mountain and by the time we passed Winterplace the temperature had risen to 70°. Around 3pm we hit Damascus and Mountain City and the temp was 72°. As I pulled into my driveway I just couldn’t believe my own eyes as the digital display read 76°! I had to remind myself that just seven days before we were in the midst of experiencing a foot of snow (15" up at Beech). Now THAT, my friends, is quite a weather roller coaster! It looks like we have three more days of mild temps and then Thursday turns colder with a low in the snowmaking range of 28°. Friday looks like a SNOW mix. We won’t look into this weekend’s forecast just yet for two reasons: First, it’s too early and second the forecast is looking rainy.

However, we just returned from a ski trip that was forecasted to be a rainy one as early as three days prior to it and not one drop of rain fell on us during the trip. So we’ll explore the weekend forecast on Wednesday or Thursday.

BARE SPOTS AND THIN COVERAGE — Everybody’s got ’em (except for Appalachian) and nobody’s reporting them – except us.

This is where the "love / hate relationship" comes to fruition for the ski areas that we all love and their relationship with websites such as ours. We challenge you to go and check any other resource out there and you will not find anything in the way of thin coverage or bare spots within those reports. Nobody is reporting them – but trust me – they are there at every resort in the entire Southeast and Mid Atlantic with the lone exception of Appalachian Ski Mountain.

"Reporting "holes in the snow" is a two edged sword, but it has to be done", reports one ski area ski patroller who asked that I keep his name anonymous. He adds, "It makes me ashamed of working at this place when conditions deteriorate to the point that some skiers would have trouble traversing an entire slope and yet not see them reporting thin area or bare spots."

The "glass half full" part of the deal is TRUTHFULLY there’s a TON of snow out there and all of the ski resorts are providing pretty darn good terrain. There are enough people who think that there’s NO SNOW LEFT at 60° so when ski areas allow the term "bare spots" into their own reports you can imagine that there are a lot of people saying to themselves, "well the season’s over!"

Another thing that I PERSONALLY observed this weekend is that I would say with all due respect to Snowshoe and Winterplace Resorts AND with all honesty – that Sugar Mountain, Cataloochee and Appalachian Ski areas are ALL in better shape than what I saw at Snowshoe and Winterplace this weekend. I stopped by Winterplace in Sunday and although there is PLENTY of good terrain, there are also quite a few thin areas that drag your skis down slow…and bare spots that you’ll HAVE to avoid.

Regardless of the reasons…I’d rank Appalachian, Sugar Mountain and Cataloochee (in that order) as the top three ski areas of all 17 in the Southeast in terms of actual snow conditions. The ski areas into West Virginia and Maryland have had vastly more natural snow and colder temps to use and make for better conditions, but perhaps those areas also saw more in the way of rain in the last couple of weeks than those in North Carolina – but whatever the reasons, I am here to report that the North Carolina ski areas have the best snow conditions in the region right now.  That is a little unusual – maybe an anomaly – but nonetheless true across the board.

Ski Beech’s conditions look pretty good as well and even though their base is definately thinner than some of the others, their conditions would be on par with the best of the rest…


Pure and simple – the season is NOT over and it is very likely that we’ll see some pristine conditions and maybe even some powder ski days before all is said and done for the 2008-2009 ski and snowboarding season. The close to this season IS quickly approaching as most all of the ski reps that I have spoken with are pointing to the 15th, 22nd and 29th as the dates that they will cease ski and snowboarding ops. Look for most to ski until the 22nd and the rest to close up on the 29th. If that holds true, this will be the first season in a few years that we won’t have one or more of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic ski areas skiing into April.

Cold air IS forecasted to return and we’ve also heard from a few ski areas that WILL BE MAKING SNOW at the first oppportunity – so pay attention to the SLOPE REPORTS and get out and ski!

There’s a lot of great reasons to ski and ride during March – including discounted rates, less crowded slopes and trails and more. THE BEST TIME TO BUY NEW SKIS, ski jackets and more IS RIGHT NOW. At every ski area you will find amazing deals with items being anywhere from 50-70% off!

So make plans to ski and ride, and keep checking our SLOPE REPORTS as we will tell you want to expect when you get there. Pay attention to our BASE LEGEND for accurate assessments of conditions.

Quick glances at Reported Base Depths:

Appalachian Ski Mountain – 75-104"

Cataloochee Ski Area – 42-94"

Ski Beech – 30-70" – Dropped to 10 trails open. Spring Fever Blowout begins on Monday…$20 adult day, or twilight lift tickets!

Sugar Mountain – 28-78" – March Madness Rates begin today and run through the end of the season. Sugar offers up to 25% savings on lift tickets, rental equipment, and lessons everyday. Some restrictions do apply.

Wolf Ridge Resort – 38-58" – Wolf Ridge Resort Will be closed this week Monday through Friday with plans to re-open Saturday for an end of season blow out day on the slopes.

Lots more is happening around the region…Be sure to click over to www.SkiSoutheast.com  to see
what’s happening into the Virginias, Tennessee, and Maryland ski resort areas.

Send your comments, photos, videos and trip reports to: [email protected]  

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