Yes, there is skiing in Alabama! Cloudmont ski and golf resort in Metrome, Alabama is one of those odd ski places that I seek out. Yet Cloudmont is not a place that lends itself to an easy quick trip. I have been trying to ski there for years. However I have found that it is a very temperamental ski area. Located at only 1,800 feet above sea level, Cloudmont does not benefit from high elevation like the Carolina resorts. Also located 200 miles farther south of the closest other ski area, it does not see the consistent cold temperatures either. Rain more than snow is the precipitation of choice in this area. Unless you live in the area you really can’t plan a trip to Cloudmont. You have to get lucky. After several years of trying I finally got lucky and had my chance to “ski Bama!”
Cloudmont has been in the snow sliding business since 1970. The area bills itself as Cloudmont Ski and Golf Resort. In fact the slopes are located on the golf course. The lift ticket/rental shop is also a snack bar for the golf course in the summer.
The slope is a gentle rise of 150 feet, split by the “pony” tow. Mock it if you wish but this is a real ski slope. There are a couple of snow machines grinding around and a real snow cat groomer. As soon as the temperate drops below 28 degrees Cloudmont opens up the guns to turn their slope white. Normally that is right around the holidays. This year warmer holiday temperatures forced Cloudmont to hold off opening until after the first of the year. However, since then the conditions have been the best in years! The state of Alabama had a real snowfall this year for the first time in many years. And at least one day they claimed powder skiing in Alabama this year!
Cloudmont should be praised for providing this area with the opportunity to sample winter sports, especially now that Sky Valley in Georgia has closed. Cloudmont is the closest skiing to Atlanta. I heard stories of folks who took their first turns here and then headed out West to work at Western Resorts.
Personally I have had an on-off relationship with this temperamental resort. I made several attempts to ski Alabama over the past decades. Most have ended in fog and rain. Several times I have arrived at the area only to find mud, rain, warm brown slopes and tales of “you should have been here last week.” However the conditions looked good as I drove from Atlanta to Cloudmont with high hopes. I was finally going to get to ski in Alabama!
Things however didn’t turn out as expected. I pulled into the lot and found it overflowing with cars. I had to park on the golf course. Still I put on my gear. I marched across the fairway to the slopes in my ski boots. The slopes looked well covered and the snow looked fine. The slopes were also packed! Bodies were sliding here and there! A large group of boarders were trying to find what air they could off a couple of small hits. The line for the rope tow looked longer than anything I had seen locally in years. It was only to be out done by the line for the ticket booth. Cloudmont was having a banner day!
Skiing, like life, is great when everything comes together and it all works out. I would like to say on this banner day it did, but alas for me it didn’t. After waiting in the long line at the ticket door, I was told the credit card machine was acting up and was now down. So having less than five dollars in my wallet, I had dilemma. I could walk back across the golf course in my ski boots, change, drive back down the mountain to “town” to find an ATM and then return. I looked at the slope and long tow line. I did a quick cost benefit analysis in my mind and for once, cost won over benefit.
Thus I walked away from the ticket booth dejected. I decided I would rather go hiking at nearby Desoto Falls anyway. So I headed back towards my rental car. On the way I stopped. I went over to a small grimy patch of dirty snow by the slopes. I put on my skis and slid forward. There! I had skied in Alabama. Mission accomplished.
Robbie Allen is an avid small hill skier. He has written several articles on the many small hills he has sought out.