First Trax

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]

My inbox has a lot of questions about why this or that ski resort hasn't made enough snow to open when Cataloochee, Sugar, Beech, Wisp or Snowshoe have. I can tell you that commerce has something to do with it, but MOSTLY it's the temperatures. Simply put, some ski areas just have not had the temps to make snow or much of it. THAT WILL CHANGE THIS WEEK and by this time next weekend we're thinking most everyone will feel better.

We usually attempt to answer a lot of those kind of complaint emails (about the weather) but not today. When you consider the gut-wrenching pain that people across the country are experiencing this morning and particularly those close to the Connecticut horror of Friday morning – I don't think any of us have anything to complain about.

'Nuff said on that subject… (both of them)…except to say that we really can't call any reporting about a lack of snow "bad news" this morning, can we? I'm sure that I share the sentiment of millions to say that those families are in our prayers this morning.


"Close" is a relative statement here, but in the case it was actually pretty close as on Wednesday it passed within 18 lunar distances of earth.

That news kind of went unreported didn't it? Probably would have had some December doomsdayers clamoring for attention. You can see a rather ominous look at it and hear some ghostly music accompanying it at See:


I guess this IS a ski and snowboarding website isn't it?

…Adam Goudelock of AppNet and part of our on-snow team designed this new snowboard that Donek is creating for us!

But BEFORE I can get to snow reporting, I HAVE to show you this new Snowboard design that our Chief Designer/Illustrator came up with for the Donek Snowboard that we are having made up!  The skis will be very similar and we'll be giving those puppies away right after the first of the year as kind of a late Christmas present to one lucky follower of!


We have MORE ski areas open today that at any point so far this season! While that isn't exactly earth-shakingly-great it IS news. Today we have FIVE ski resorts of the 16 snow resorts open. (Liberty is also open but they are an artificial/snowflex area.)  Snowshoe leads the way with 21 trails – which is more than the other four resorts combined.  That isn't being reported as a slap to the others. It's simply illustrating what IS going on.


Some are reporting Packed Powder conditions!?!?! Some manmade powder. There's no powder of any kind in the region right now. That will change but not until the middle of next week.

While we're fighting through temps in the 40s in places this morning, Northstar at Tahoe is reporting 8°. Bill! Send some of those temps our way!

THEY ARE COMING…maybe not quite that cold, but they're headed our way.  The question I'm getting so often right now is WHEN.  We're gotten great weather forecasts from Herb Stevens and Brad Panovich and you can check those out at

Both meteorologists are saying to "Keep the faith" as cold air WILL HIT IN EARNEST around December 18th and it looks to be sticking around with some natural snow to boot – through the end of the month and beyond.

As of Tuesday of this week there should be daily snowmaking happening at all of the ski areas and with seven days of snowmaking AND some natural snow coming around, we'll see lots of pristine conditions at ALL of the resorts in the region PRIOR to Christmas.

That is the IMPORTANT news is that all of the ski areas SHOULD be open with PRISTINE conditions prior to Christmas. A lot of people head to their favorite mountain on December 26th or so and by then, smiles will be on everyone's faces. The question will be HOW MANY trails each resort has open, but there should be plenty of time to make focused snow and open plenty of terrain at YOUR favorite ski resort between now and Christmas Day!


Here's the deets for today:

Snowshoe Mountain – 37° – 21 Trails, 7 Lifts – 12-30" base – Day & Night Sessions with Terrain Parks open as well!  Snowshoe is reporting "granular" conditions and that would be dead-on. Without question, Snowshoe IS the place to ski and ride today if you have the opportunity to head there.

Snowshoe writes, "Demo Days is this weekend! We're also celebrating the Grand Opening of our new Smith Optics store in the Village. Join us for the Grand Opening Fiesta!"

Beech Mountain Resort – 46° – 4 Trails, 2 Lifts – 8-24" base – Day & Night Sessions:

Beech made snow through early on Thursday and laid down a lot of manmade snow and they are open today and tonight. There are some thin coverage areas showing down at the base. Conditions are variable.

Mark your calendars for Beech's New Year plans! They write:
This is our 45th season and we look forward to making it a memorable one!  Come celebrate the New Year with Beech Mountain Resort!  On December 31st, the Beech Tree Bar and Grille will open at 8pm, for a 21 and up event, lasting until 1:30am.  Enjoy live entertainment  from The Jonathan Birchfield  Band, providing a unique mix of country and rock tunes to keep every ear entertained.  Tickets will be $10 per person.  Beech Mountain Resort will extend Ice Skating hours until 11pm. Munchies, located adjacent to the ice rink, will provide games and activities for families.

Beech has a GREAT weather page running on their website. Check it out at:

Cataloochee Ski Area – 43.3° – 3 Trails, 2 Lifts – 12-30" base – Day Sessions Only:

Cat writes:
We were able to make snow continually since early Tuesday morning until this Thursday morning and will resume snowmaking as quickly temperatures permit. In order to maximize all snowmaking opportunities to the fullest extent, particularly during evening hours, we have postponed the start of night skiing until Monday, December 17.

And if you want to come and check it out…yes, you get a full refund after one run if you are unhappy with conditions! Today, we will be skiing from midstation down on 3 slopes with 2 aerial lifts operating from 8:30am until 4:30pm. Once again, guests unhappy with conditions will receive a full refund after one run. Refunds will not be given after that. Night skiing will begin on Monday, December 17. See you for skiing and riding from 8:30am- 4:30pm!

Wisp Resort in Maryland – 33° – OPEN! 2 Trails, 2 Lifts – 12" base – Day & Night Sessions as well as their unique Mountain Coaster and Ice Skating.

Wisp writes, "Welcome to the 2012/2013 Winter Season! Wisp Resort is open today from 9am – 9pm with $35 Adult lift tickets and $29 Junior lift tickets."

Sugar Mountain Resort – 38.9° – 2 Trails, 1 Lift – 8-25" base – Day & Night Sessions:

Sugar is hosting their SugarFest Festival today and Sunday. They write:

Sugarfest – continues today through tomorrow the 16th. Skiers, snowboarders, ice skaters, foodies, music lovers, families, weekend warriors, any type of winter shopper and Olympic athlete followers, we've got something for all of you.

Food, drinks and dancing to live bluegrass music by Boss Hawg. 4pm till 7pm, Saturday. Fireworks presented by the Village of Sugar Mountain. 5:45pm, Saturday.

Come out and watch or throw down with some of the area's best riders in the Ride Rail Jam session. 10am, Sunday

Ober Gatlinburg – is open with TUBING ONLY today. They wrote, "Have been experiencing a few more disappointing evenings with temperature inversions but colder weather is forecasted and we will begin making snow on the slopes as soon as temperatures permit."


Appalachian Ski Mountain – 39° – is offering ice skating today, but is closed for skiing and snowboarding until weather permits additional snowmaking.

The photo to the right show APP this morning and we've seen resorts open with LESS!  Hats off to App for wanting to deliver great conditions before opening.

Sapphire Valley – 32.9° – Target Opening for Ski Sapphire Valley – December 19,2012 for Tube Run; December 21st for Ski Slopes.  Sapphire has made snow and with some consistent cold temps coming in this week should be able to meet their hoped for opening dates.


Snowshoe Mountain – Already covered above…

Canaan Valley Resort wrote, "To allow our snowmakers adequate time to develop the best skiing conditions for our guest, the opening date has been extended to Wednesday, December 26th. Visit our website pages for special value season lodging and lift ticket offers available through December 28th."

We shipped a new streaming cam to Canaan this week and look forward to some sweet views real soon!

Timberline Resort has pushed their opening date back to December 21st. Things look REALLY quite nice there this morning via the LIVE CAM!

We get a lot of comments about that cam and it's pretty awesome to me as well!

Winterplace Resort ALSO looks great this morning via their LIVE, STREAMING cam! They've pushed their opening day back to Friday, December 21st. You can see the conditions there at:

Anyone else REALLY LIKE the new Winterplace website? There's just something about it that I REALLY love. The colors and clarity of the site is really quite nice. It may be the best website of all the resorts in the area to me. I really like Canaan's as well and of course Snowshoe's and Wisp's are nice.


Bryce Resort – Snow was made at the base last night but temperatures limited snowmaking at the top.  Keep checking back here for the latest opening information!

Massanutten Resort wrote, "Our snow makers have been hard at work over the last two nights making snow. We will be making snow tonight as temperatures allow.  We plan to open as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience."

Homestead Resort has made some snow. They too are hoping to open next week. Homestead has a new LIVE STREAMING camera and we're supposed to be working with their new marketing team to display that and a snow report this winter. The Homestead has really not offered one in the past.

Wintergreen Resort has made snow and wrote, "Opening day is likely to be after 12/19."


We just took LIVE a new streaming camera showing lots of Christmas lights in downtown Bryson City on Friday. That camera is located at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad which will make for some great views for you train buffs as well as some super Autumn colors in season. More about that soon.


…We HAD to post this guy's TripAdvisor photo as his name is Mike Doyle. That ISN'T ME folks…not even close. However he's posted the only rare news coming out of the area about Wolf.

What's happening at Wolf Ridge? We've been getting that one a good bit. The answer right now is "nothing" it seems. No snowmaking or no report of it. No cameras although they have five listed on the website. No news since Friday, November 30th. They are showing 53° via this morning despite the fact that it's ACTUALLY 40° according to our weather center there. See:

Ray's Weather is showing that it's 44.8° and even that is better than what Wolf is "promoting" on their own site. These guys have just quit working with anyone and have gone quieter than a "mouse peeing on cotton" says many who live and work close to the ski area.

One of our messageboard members posted, "I hope we are not heading in the direction of adding another resort to the boneyard list."

According to Wolf's Facebook page, they made snow Wednesday but it was a very small amount. To say the least many of their Facebook posts aren't happy.

MAN, that's enough out of me for today. Email me your thoughts and reactions at: [email protected]

If you're reading this, do me a favor if you would. If you're on Facebook or Twitter – would you do us a favor and share our Facebook and Twitter content pages with your snow loving friends. We're going to be doing some sweet contests this season along with the 25 days of Christmas giveaway where we will be giving away lift passes every day of the month through Christmas Day. We'll have some vacations to give away as well so to get the BEST chances to win, follow us on Twitter at
If you'll tweet your friends to follow us we can build up a great following to join us for our Summits this season. We'll be announcing those dates and locations this week as well.


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