Snowmaking Underway as Resorts Eye Opening Dates
By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor
December 2, 2010 — Weather was a bit finicky in November, making a pre-Thanksgiving opening date just outside the grasp of most mid-Atlantic ski areas. In North Carolina, Sugar Mountain grabbed a temporary opening date on November 6, 2010 when it opened a slope. Warm temperatures forced Sugar Mountain to close on November 14, but the resort re-opened on November 27. Five slopes are now open at Sugar Mountain.
Other mid-Atlantic resorts are poised to join Sugar Mountain by launching their 2010-2011 winter season in the coming days.
In West Virginia, Snowshoe Mountain Resort had hoped to open some runs by Thanksgiving, but with limited opportunities for snowmaking, decided to hold off. Snowshoe is now planning on opening for the season on December 8. Timberline Resort is planning to begin its season on December 9, while Cannan Valley and Winterplace should begin running the lifts on December 11.
“Temperatures are starting to turn colder and that’s good news,” said Terry Pfeiffer, who serves as President of Winterplace Ski Resort as well as the West Virginia Ski Areas Association.
West Virginia ski areas have teamed together this winter to offer a “Mountain Pass.” The Mountain Pass is a booklet of tickets including 30 vouchers for skiing and snowboarding at Timberline, Snowshoe, Canaan Valley, and Winterplace, as well as 10 vouchers at the state’s nordic areas. 140 total vouchers are included; each voucher can be traded for a single lift ticket anytime during the 2010-2011 winter season. Priced at $2400, the Mountain Pass is geared towards families and companies looking to reward employees; for more information contact the West Virginia Ski Areas Association at 304-720-5471.
To the north of West Virginia ski areas, Maryland’s Wisp Resort is currently making snow on over one dozen trails and should be opening soon. Wisp has not yet announced an opening date.
On December 2, Virginia’s Wintergreen Resort reported that it had over 100 snowguns firing. Wintergreen plans to open on either December 10 or 11, depending on upcoming conditions. Massanutten Resort has also begun snowmaking operations, but it not prepared to announce an opening date yet.
In Pennsylvania, Whitetail, Liberty, and Roundtop Mountain Resorts celebrated the beginning of December (and the arrival of a welcome cold front) by firing up their snowmaking systems. The three resorts have not announced an opening date yet.
Seven Springs has been making snow aggressively and will begin its season on Saturday, December 4.
“Our team did an amazing job preparing the mountain for opening day,” said Dick Barron, Director of Skiing at the Pennsylvania resort. “Their tireless efforts will provide our guests with a great beginning to a wonderful season.”
Seven Springs plans to have 6-8 slopes and trails open on December 4 and 5, with three chairlifts and one surface lift running. The mountain will be open 9 am to 4 pm both days, with $32 ski/board adult tickets and $22 child tickets. Seven Springs is also inviting midweek season passholders to ski during the December 4-5 weekend.
After opening weekend, Seven Springs will close on Monday, December 6 to focus on extensive snowmaking. A re-opening date will be announced sometime next week.
Hidden Valley Resort plans to open two teaching areas on Sunday, December 5. On that day, the Pennsylvania ski area will offer free skiing and snowboarding lessons to first time skiers and snowboarders 5 years of age or older. Reservations are required; for more information and restrictions, call Hidden Valley at 814-443-8000. Hidden Valley expects that it will be able to open the slopes for general skiing and snowboarding during the December 11-12 weekend.
The long-term forecast shows continued cold temperatures, with nighttime temperatures comfortably below freezing and the potential for some natural snow at high-elevation resorts this weekend. Based on current weather trends, DCSki expects that most mid-Atlantic ski areas will be able to begin their season around December 10-11. Since early-season conditions can be variable and operating hours can be limited, be sure to contact resorts directly to verify operating status before making a trip.
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About the Author
M. Scott Smith is the founder and Editor of DCSki. Scott loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking, skiing, and mountain biking. He is an avid photographer and writer. To read other articles by Scott, click here.
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