…and TODAY could be even better.
The temperatures are (on average) about 7° “warmer” with a lot of 25° to 27° morning lows. Lots of snowmaking continued at most ski areas and slope/trail counts have definitely increased. A few days ago I posts trail counts at every resort and MOST were in the range of 40%-57% open. Now, just a couple of days later and we’re seeing trail counts at resorts on average in the 60%-83% range with Timberline Mountain at 100% open and Beech Mountain Resort at 88% open – leading the way. Check the SNOW REPORT for all the full details, but here are this morning’s trail counts:
100% Open – Timberline Mountain – 21 of 21 slopes. Conditions are SWEET!
88% Open – Beech Mountain Resort – 15 of 17 slopes, tubing open, terrain park features
83% Open – Winterplace Resort – 24 of 29 slopes. Open 9a-9p. Tubing open!
78% Open – Massanutten Resort – 18 of 23 slopes. Lower Mass Transit is added to the open category today. Tubing open.
78% Open – Bryce Resort – 5 of 9 slopes. White Lightning is Now Open as is the New Lift.
76% Open – Sugar Mountain Resort – 16 of 21 slopes. Ice Skating and Tubing are Open. Oma’s Meadow Open!
72% Open – Cataloochee Ski Area – 13 of 18 slopes, night skiing and tubing open. Terrain park open.
69% Open – Appalachian Ski Mountain – 9 of 13 slopes, ice skating, terrain park
60% Open – Ober Mountain – 6 of 10 slopes. Open 9a-9p. Tubing also open, Ice Skating Open!
57% Open – Snowshoe Mountain – 35 of 61 slopes – Cupp Run now open as well as Widowmaker
44% Open – Wintergreen Resort – 12 of 27 slopes. Open 9am-9pm today and tonight. Tubing Open as well.
41% Open – Wisp Resort – 14 of 34 slopes. Open 9am-9pm. Muskrat, Boulder, and Upper Beaver trails are now open!
33% Open – Omni Homestead Resort – 3 of 9 trails open. Their LIVE CAM is back up and running!
33% Open – Wolf Ridge Resort – 5 of 15 slopes – Day sessions only.
13% Open – Canaan Valley Resort 6 of 47 slopes – Tubing is now open as well.
100% Open – Sapphire Valley Resort – Both slopes open plus Tubing
A Short Mild Up and More Cold Air…
Meteorologist Brad Panovich’s Latest Skier’s Forecast shows GREAT NEWS for COLD air. After a slight mild up this weekend, things turn cold yet again. Check it out.
I watched the webcams at different times on Tuesday and the slopes were crowded. Not a lot you can do about it but embrace, be patient and go with the flow. I read various complaints via emails and on social media that simply don’t understand that. If you are going to ski or ride during a peak, Holiday week or weekend, you should know in advance that you are not going to have the slopes to yourself.
You should also know that lift lines are going to be long and that some ski areas manage crowds and lift lines better than others. The object of this post is not to grade any resort on that subject – but simply to state the not-quite-so-obvious to many of you who only frequent the slopes on a Holiday week or weekend. If you want the slopes to yourself, then take some time off during the week (Tuesday through Thursdays are best) and you’ll just turn laps with no lift lines. If you are making the decision to ski or ride on a Holiday week or weekend, then check your complaints and attitudes at your car or lodging BEFORE you get on the slopes.
FINDING UNCROWDED SLOPES ON CROWDED HOLIDAY WEEKS AND WEEKENDS
I will share something that not enough of us are talking about these days – RFID cards at ski resorts. RFID cards have been used for many years out west, but slowly but surely they are now showing up in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. Appalachian Ski Mountain introduced them this season in North Carolina. Wintergreen and Massanutten Resort uses them now. Wisp Resort in Maryland, Canaan Valley Resort and Timberline Mountain all use them.
We may talk more RFID cards another day, but for the purpose of this post – crowded vs uncrowded slopes – I don’t think it’s a coincidence that lift lines are nearly non-existent at those resorts mentioned above that are now using them. There have been numerous stories posted about the pluses and supposed minuses of RFID tech, but as far as I can determine, they are awesome for allowing guests to purchase and reload tickets in advance. They speed things up considerably at the point of getting on the lift. Nothing slows things down in lift lines that the archaic scanning with the handheld guns…especially when they have to shoot them two or three times. Grabbing and checking old-school lift passes is about as bad.
When you combine the RFID tech with the automated gates…and good lift ops who “invite” guests to team up and fill every lift chair – you have a winning combination wherein even at the busiest times of the year, you have no lift lines to speak of.
I have already mentioned being at Timberline Mountain and Canaan Valley Resort this week and on Tuesday, after about 10:30am, when most resorts become wall-to-wall packed on Holiday weeks and weekends, Timberline was moving people through like a well-oiled machine. I took a few photos of what LOOKED like a pretty massive line at the bottom of the six-man lift. However, as long as that lined LOOKED, it last all of EIGHT MINUTES.
Over the last several years we’ve seen every resort in the region invest millions of dollars in snowmaking technology and that money was well-invested and the payoff is lots of snow on the slopes, even with the weather isn’t as cooperative as we’d like.
I think the next round of investments will be in the RFID ticketing and the automated gates at every ski resort.
As crowded as the slopes were on Tuesday, there were no waits in lift lines and that allowed us to easily make ten runs top to bottom in about two hours. I could have made 20-30 trips down if my body would have allowed me to.
Today is another day. The legs feel good right now…so at 9am I will be hitting the mountain.
Check the SNOW REPORT this morning for full details.
Look for MORE photos and videos posted from today…later today.
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