Thank a snowmaker this morning, because the ski and snowboard season in the southeast is officially underway.
Sugar Mountain announced this morning that it will open for the season at 9 a.m., making it the first ski area in the region open for business. Easy Street, Northridge, Switchback, Upper and Lower Flying Mile, and the Magic Carpet area will all be skiable, and its six-person Summit Express chairlift is spinning. Twilight and night skiing will be available in the upcoming weeks, while the snowsports school, rental shop, and childcare are all fully operational. Matt Laws has the full breakdown for you here.
“The entire team is excited to get rolling. We’re all looking forward to a long, cold, and snowy season,” said Kimberley Jochl, the vice president and director of marketing and merchandising. “With regard to opening first — We’re in the winter fun business! So like every ski resort around the world, we strive to open as soon as conditions and weather permit. And when we do open, it feels GREAT!”
Mother Nature has truly been testing our patience to start this season, with several ski areas rescheduling their start dates, and those dates coming in later than last year. But let’s all hope that it is worth the wait.
And if you want a bit of perspective, here’s some: my friends who reside in New Hampshire and Utah (and ski and snowboard more than most people I know) only have a day or two under their belt this season, at most! So there’s not much catching up to do here in the southeast.
I like to think that I’m a patient person, but the second the temperatures hit the low-50s and my YouTube feed is populated with ski and snowboard movies, all that patience goes out the window. I’m so glad the season is here. I’ll be snowboarding somewhere in North Carolina this weekend. Feel free to say hello if you see me out in the wild.
Brad Panovich says that these temperatures are “ideal for snow” this week, with the coldest air of the season reminiscent of something you’d typically see in mid-January. I love the sound of that.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
After optimistically setting an opening day of November 17, App Ski is set to open Thursday, November 30. That team is fully taking advantage of the cold temperatures, and they are furiously blowing snow.
Don’t forget, if you’re planning to head to Appalachian this weekend, there are two things to keep in mind, First, the area has gone cashless, but there will be “reverse ATMs” on-site to turn your cash into a VISA debit card for free. Second, the first 50 skiers and snowboarders on the lift will be awarded with a custom BlackStrap neck tube.
It seems like forever ago that Beech held its Early-Season Access Rail Jam at the end of October. While we won’t get any turns in in the month of November, its snow guns are firing from the base, to the resort summit, to the sledding hill this morning, in anticipation of its December 2 opening day.
Chairlifts start spinning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and the first tubing session begins at 10 a.m. First Chair Coffee Shop is giving away complimentary coffee, and BlackStrap will also be there with some giveaways.
Beech is also transitioning to the RFID system for lift tickets this season. More information on that here.
Lifts were spinning at Cataloochee as well this morning, with the webcams showing the trail signs for Upper Omigosh and Upper Snowbird covered in a layer of snow, so it’s just a matter of time before we’re making turns out that way, too. From where I’m sitting (my desk in Raleigh), it looks good enough to make some turns on, already! Let’s hope we get the go-ahead soon.
Editor’s note: Cataloochee has announced that they WILL be opening Wednesday!
The wait is almost over. Snowshoe will also open up on Saturday, December 2, after having to postpone a November start date like the rest of the region. Yes, the team at Snowshoe is blowing some snow, just like many in the region, but it seems as if nature is giving the resort a little extra kick, with some natural snow showers. That is expected to keep up through the early afternoon.
The resort will run three lifts: Ballhooter, Skidder, and Poweridge. There will be 8-10 trails open and some features in the progression park. While Silver Creek isn’t slated to open up until December 15, we’re seeing plenty of the goods on our ResortCams.
Like the marketing team said. “It’s go-time in West Virginia, baby!”
What We Know
While there’s still plenty of variability in the resorts that have not opened yet, here’s what we know about the rest of the southeast.
No word on snowmaking just yet, but the “East Coast’s newest ski resort” is set to open December 16. They dropped this video on their Instagram page that will make you want to run through a brick wall, on the way to some powder.
Also anticipating a December 16 opening day.
Did we mention that it’s snowing in West Virginia? It’s cold today, but those low temperatures will ease up as the week goes on. Mountain operations is also blowing snow.
The rest of us
Winterplace, Timberline, Massanutten, Bryce, Wisp, and Ober Mountain are all blowing snow. Ober will be open “sometime in December,” while the Omni Homestead is set to open up in late December.
And good news for those of you who like to earn those turns. White Grass in West Virginia is open, as well.
If you haven’t done so already, make sure to start crossing things off your to-do list, in preparation for your first day on the slopes. Sharpen those edges, wax your bases, and don’t forget to waterproof your gloves and mittens. Mix in a few bodyweight squats if you’ve forgotten about preseason conditioning until now!
On a personal note, I couldn’t be more stoked to be with you every step of the way for the 2023-2024 season. Thanks to everyone who has already sent kind words my way. Skiers and riders in the southeast are among the most passionate I’ve ever met, and I can’t wait to meet even more of you.
Ski (and ride) the East. And get in touch with me at [email protected].