First Trax

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Well…Sugar Mountain made it! As of 8:20am they are making snow as well. Their snowmaking guns will shut off in a bit as temps are forecasted to go into the 50s again today. But you just have to give the old dog (President Gunther Jochl) his due as he’s kind of like a boxer who just keeps throwing punches at every opening until he finally knocks you down. Maybe Gunther will ultimately beat the heck out of old man Winter and the fallout will be cold and snow the rest of the way! Hey, I’m pulling for him.

Conditions at Sugar today will be p-r-e-t-t-y bad and I doubt many will purchase a lift ticket to ski it, but that’s alright, he will extend their streak to 38 consecutive days of skiing and riding and nobody else in the region can boast that.

Some would argue they should not have been open yesterday or today and a couple of people who I spoke with yesterday snickered when I mentioned that they were open; however I think it’s cool as heck…and MANY fans of other ski areas in the area have written us that they wished that THEIR favorite hill was as pro-active and agressive about making snow and staying open. To each his own…

Since I’m on Sugar, I’ll wrap up their news first. Sugarfest is still a "GO" for Saturday and Sunday, December 15th and 16th. Happenings include on-snow equipment demo’s, Ski & Snowboard Makeover winners presentation, ice skating grand opening celebration, snowball eating contest, Burton/Edge of the World rail jam, fireworks, ice sculpting and music by Boss Hawg.


Cataloochee and Appalachian are open with 4 and 5 slopes open and unquestionably the BEST conditions of the three resorts operating today. In fact, I’d say it is a coin toss as to which has the best, and I believe that Chris and Brad (GMs of each) would say a mutual "way to go" about the other as Cataloochee is in Maggie Valley and App is in Blowing Rock and each has their own demographic draw. Both look pretty decent today!


So the prolonged "curve" that Mother Nature has thrown the mountains of North Carolina is over as of Saturday. What a relief to all of us who love skiing. Beginning sometime on Saturday we should hear the roar of snowguns cranking up all across the region and those of you on the Ski Beech Slopeside should watch those new Airless Guns fire up and blast the trails with fresh, manmade snow. Even better still is the fact that a wintry mix is on tap for the area Saturday evening and because of that you might actually see some of the resorts wait until sometime SUNDAY to begin making snow. Before some of you begin yelling at your monitors…consider this.

The weather pattern right now is looking like a freezing rain, sleet to snow mix Saturday night with lows around 31°. Looks for Sugar to begin making snow as soon as the thermometer hits 33-34°! He’s going to CAUSE some of the wintry mix atop Sugar Mountain! We’re thinking the rest might wait until Sunday sometime to allow the temps to drop a bit more.

The COOL thing is that it looks like Meteorologist Brad Panovich’s forecast might just come together after all and deliver 2-4" of snow to the mountains of Western North Carolina with 6" or so possible along the TN/NC line (where snow goes to hide from the ski areas!)

Many other weather gurus were shying away just yesterday and saying that the High Country would only see a dusting. Brad provided his forecast on Tuesday and never shied away from it. Now the others are coming towards his assessment and it looks like areas northward will get more!

EVEN BETTER STILL is the fact that the cold air looks to be hanging around AND highs will be in the 30s and lows in the teens to low 20s Sunday through Tuesday. While daytime temps on Wednesday and Thursday will still be BELOW NORMAL, they will shut the snowguns off as highs reach 40° of so. However nighttime temps will still be in the mid 20s or so. That means that we’ll get to hit the slopes with what should be ever-improving conditions throughout the week.

ON TOP OF ALL OF THIS GOOD NEWS is the fact that right at the end of the seven day forecasting period lurks another storm that could bring more snow! Keep your positive thoughts and prayers coming for cold and snow…and GUNTHER keep throwing those body punches. It ALL seems to be working and maybe our Holiday skiing will be wonderful and pristine.

CHECK THE SLOPE CONDITIONS PAGE FOR THE UPDATED TRAIL OPENINGS AND CONDITIONS. Look for Ski Beech, Hawksnest and Wolf Ridge to open early to mid next week.


Mike Stinneford of Washington, D.C. (who is a meteorologist and contributing writer to many publications in the region) wrote, "I want to salute you on your reasonable defense on the nonsense of Global Warming. It’s telling that people who disagree with you take to name-calling instead of using any type of facts. I was disturbed to see that Al Gore this week said that people who didn’t believe in global warming are in the same league as Neville Chamberlain and the other “appeasers” in the 1930s. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but when I was at NC State in the late 70s, the big concern was global cooling, a new ice age, and not being able to feed the earth’s population due to the shortening of the growing season and glaciers covering northern latitude growing areas. I have a friend who is a geologist and he laughs at climate scientists who try to make any type of conclusion with small amount of weather history we have. There are many reasonable people who agree with you."

Steve Pruitt wrote, "YOU ARE THE MAN!!! I want to personally tell you that you are the single most intelligent human being alive (other than myself)LOL!!!! Your RANT on Global Warming was just wonderful. It is good to see that someone else, besides myself, isn’t riding back seat to all the money hungry global warming politicians. All I really have to say in this e-mail is keep up the good work man. I check your site like 10 times a day (I know, I know, I have a slight winter addiction) it is a shame that I can’t find a blog as good as yours for Colorado. If you know of one for Colorado please let me know."

Editor’s Note: Let me say it before I get gobs of emails rebutting Steve’s comment of my supposed intelligence; Steve, no YOU ARE THE MAN! My friends and family will ALL attest that I am not all that bright. Somewhere in the average range I assure you!

James L (since he criticizes me and I didn’t get clearance to use his full name I will leave it to "James L") wrote, "I have gone to your page often. I have works for years with scientists in the department of Meteorology. I want to support your fine ski page but not your Rush sounding politics which diminish the science my fellow workers do. I have tried joining the message board several time so at least there might be some balance if people really looked for it but the system of emailing back passwords has never worked correctly. I have made bookmarks of the ski resort pages so that I do not have to go to yours. Your accusing of Seven Hills of stealing also sounded very Rush like to me and full of insults and flaws. When you put so much very one sided politics on your page you force people like me avoid your page in order to not support the spreading of these views. Stick to ski matters or open up a sepate news page or try to present more sides."

Editor’s Note: Sorry guys I HAVE to comment on this one! Let’s see he calls himself and scientist and writes and I quote:

"I have works for years"

"I have tried joining the message board several time" – not times.

"Your accusing of Seven Hills of stealing also sounded very Rush like" – Is here referring to Seven Devils and when did I accuse them of stealing anything.

"or open up a sepate news page or try to present more sides" – "sepate???"

Ray Shrader wrote, "I read almost everyday even when it’s July. I enjoy the updates, articles, and pictures. Thanks for not bowing down to enviroweenies. I wonder if these are the same people that don’t understand the difference between profit and proft margin when Exxon reports its earnings? Praying for cold weather, Ray."

We’ll probably get more comments and I’ll try to share them as we have the time, but HOPEFULLY our next several days will be filled up with posting good stories and photos of people enjoying some skiing and riding!

Until Next Time…Send your comments, photos and videos to: [email protected]  

Also visit  for more news from the rest of the ski resorts of the Southeast and Mid Atlantic.

See You On The Slopes!

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