First Trax

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]

…the rest of the resorts are waiting on the next cold snap to make snow and open.

Beech Mountain Resort, high atop their 5506′ elevations in Western North Carolina is open for the first time this season with day sessions. Cataloochee and Sugar have re-opened for the third time this season and Sugar is open for night skiing and snowboarding as well. Both Sugar and Cat have fought the battle of the weather to open for this – their third weekend of riding in a row. That is certainly commendable, right?

That’s it for this weekend as the rest of the ski areas have chosen to make snow whenever possible and pack it…and hold onto it and await what we hope will be more consistently cold temperatures to come in next week and then open with as much terrain as possible. Appalachian and Snowshoe made snow and thought about opening this weekend but held off on dropping the ropes for the first time this season.

There ARE some showers in the forecast for Tuesday or so of next week and then some hints of mid 20° temps coming in each night thereafter. We’ll have to see those temps make it into the ski communities so that they can make a bunch of snow to get built up for a successful Holiday season. It is still early, but you can bet the ski areas are looking intently at the long range forecast to see when those cold, cold temps are headed our way.

If you’re reading this report early on Saturday, check out the Boone Christmas Parade this morning at:

Here are some notables…

Cataloochee Ski Area – 34° – Let’s hit the important things first and then the VERY IMPORTANT stuff. First, Cat is open for day sessions today with 8 trails, serviced by 2 lifts and a base of 15-30". Things look wonderfully groomed this morning. We’re seeing a temp of 34° there at 7:30am so we don’t think any snowmaking took place overnight. Some weather centers are showing a 22° reading but we think those temps are down in the valley (at Maggie Valley) as some temperature inversions took place yet again (for the third time in 72 hours!) Regardless, things look great after a couple of days of snowmaking and Cat will play for day sessions today and Sunday. TUBING is also open today as they made snow there as well!


Don’t forget that Sunday, December 4 is Cataloochee’s 10th annual Can-U-Ski Food and Coat Drive for Haywood Christian Ministries. 10 cans of food (or more!) and/or a warm winter coat in good condition will get you a free lift ticket from 8:30am-4:30pm on Sunday, December 4 only. It’s a $58 value. Celebrate the season by helping us give back to our wonderful community by sharing with others. It’s a great way to start the holidays and have some fun with your friends at Cataloochee as well.

Beech Mountain Resort – 37° – They OPEN TODAY for the first time this season with 5 trails serviced by 4 lifts and a base of 6-18" for day sessions only. They have Upper and Lower Shawneehaw, Crossover, Freestyle and The Play Yard open for today. Things look nice and snowy up there after a few inches of natural snow fell. Beech will be a winter wonderland for those wanting to head up and play for today and Saturday. Our guess is that Beech will only be open this weekend and then not operate Monday/Tuesday to wait for colder temps again mid-week to make snow, but we will update you later in the weekend if that is not the case.

Sugar Mountain Resort – 34° – They are OPEN FOR DAY AND NIGHT skiing and snowboarding for Saturday with TWO trails up to their 3/4th station on a base of 8-25" of groomed and frozen granular. Ice skating is open as well! Sugar is the first to offer night sessions for this 2011-2012 ski season. Don’t forget that Sugar will host their annual SugarFest weekend NEXT WEEKEND! We’ll talk more about that in a day or two but you can demo some of the coolest and newest equipment, enjoy fireworks and more.

Opening Day Status ELSEWHERE

With only a few nights of marginal snowmaking, some ski area have only made snow a couple of nights and some not at all. There are three good weeks left before the all-important Christmas-New Year’s Holiday ski week. Let’s THINK COLD and SNOW so that the ski resorts can get a LOT of terrain open prior to that period!

I’m in Blacksburg, Virginia chilling out at Va Tech this weekend, so do that "COLD THINKING" for me and I’ll chip in on Sunday!

Email me your comments, thoughts, photos, vids or anything else you like. Email me at: [email protected]

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