Aggressive Snowmaking Underway, as Resorts Race Towards Opening (Updated) 5
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

Have you noticed a chill in the air?

Local ski resorts sure have. And many are taking advantage of it to fire up the snowguns. Mother Nature is also lending a hand, dumping nearly two feet of snow in the West Virginia mountains.

North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain Resort kicked off its season on Monday, November 17, 2008, and West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort won’t be far behind. Snowshoe decided late today to push up its opening date from November 26 to this Friday, November 21.

Resorts in New England are also beginning to open. Vermont’s Killington Resort will launch its 2008-2009 winter season on Wednesday, November 19. To the west, Colorado’s Vail Resort will open on Friday, November 21.

Snowshoe has 105 snowguns running around the clock. Photo provided by Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

Temperatures took a dive this past weekend, and in higher elevation areas, they’ve stayed around or below freezing. This has allowed many resorts to begin snowmaking operations. In Pennsylvania, Seven Springs Resort turned on its guns on Sunday night, November 16. The snow coming out of the guns was accompanied by snow showers coming out of the sky. Seven Springs plans to open on Friday, November 21, 2008.

“We are excited to open this weekend as it is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the slopes before the Thanksgiving holiday,” said John Mates, Director of Winter Operations at Seven Springs. The first trails to open should be Wagner, upper Phillip’s Run, Fawn Lane, the Wagner Beginners’ Area and the Foggy Bowl. The Cortina and Polar Bear Express lifts will be in operation.

Nearby Hidden Valley Resort took advantage of cold temperatures on November 10 to try out some of its new TechnoAlpin snowguns, and is offering an early-season deal that is hard to beat: free lift tickets and lessons.

“The new guns are fully automated and equipped with weather instrumentation that allows them to adjust to changing weather conditions with no manual assistance,” said Jim Schultz, Hidden Valley’s Mountain Manager.

After this initial test, the guns are once again firing at Hidden Valley Resort. The ski area plans to open on Friday, November 28, remaining open through Sunday, November 30. The resort will then close and re-open for skiing and boarding on Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7. On these five days, Hidden Valley Resort will provide complimentary lift tickets. The resort will also offer 90-minute group ski or snowboard lessons at no charge to guests age seven and older through December 19, 2008, subject to availability.

Over at West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort, 21 inches of fresh snow have fallen on the top of the mountain since this past Saturday. Another foot could fall by Wednesday. Snowshoe has been making snow around the clock since Saturday, with as many as 105 guns covering 39 acres of terrain with 3-4 feet of snow.

“This is the best early season scenario we could have imagined,” said Snowshoe President and GM Bill Rock. “We’re thrilled to be open earlier than expected and Mother Nature couldn’t have cooperated any better, providing the best early season conditions possible.”

A generous snow storm has dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on Snowshoe in recent days. Photo provided by Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

Snowshoe’s Laura Parquette reports that Snowshoe will open with its best early season conditions on record. Snowshoe plans to have 6 trails open and 2 lifts operating on Friday, November 21. With around-the-clock snowmaking, additional trails should quickly come on-line. Snowshoe will be selling discounted $29 lift tickets from Friday, November 21 through Tuesday, November 25.

A deer in the woods near Canaan Valley Resort on Wednesday, November 19, 2008. Photo provided by Canaan Valley Resort.

To the north, West Virginia’s Canaan Valley Resort has also welcomed natural snow and is running the snowguns.

“We are currently making snow and will continue through the week,” said Bryan Brown, a spokesman for the resort. Bryan notes that the resort has received 12-14 inches of snow so far from the current snowstorm. Canaan Valley Resort is targeting a December 12 opening date.

Canaan Valley Resort is supplementing a foot of natural snow with its own snowmaking. Photo provided by Canaan Valley Resort.

Nearby Timberline Resort began making snow on Sunday, November 16, and plans to keep the guns running through the week. Timberline has set December 4 as its target opening date.

Natural snow means that cross country skiing and snowshoeing is already underway at the Whitegrass Touring Center.

A cross country skier enjoys the fresh snow at the Whitegrass Touring Center on Monday, November 17, 2008. Photo provided by the Whitegrass Touring Center.

In Maryland, the snowguns are firing at Wisp Resort. Wisp currently plans to open on Friday, November 28.

Wisp is blanketing its slopes with snow. Photo provided by Wisp Resort.

Temperatures at lower-elevation ski areas have also dipped into snowmaking territory. On Tuesday, November 18, Pennsylvania’s Whitetail Resort took advantage of the colder temperatures to put its snowmaking system through a series of tests. Whitetail plans to hold more tests this weekend.

A newly-installed webcam shows the results of a snowmaking test on Whitetail’s new slope, Sidewinder. Photo provided by Whitetail Resort.

In Virginia, Wintergreen Resort began making snow on Monday evening. At 7 a.m. on Tuesday, the temperature was only 18 degrees. Wintergreen is making snow aggressively in the Plunge Tubing Park, hoping to open it by the Thanksgiving weekend. Although Wintergreen has been aiming to open its ski slopes on December 13, with cold temperatures predicted for the rest of November, it may be able to move the opening date up to December 6.

Wintergreen began making snow in the Plunge Tubing Park on Monday evening. Photo provided by Wintergreen Resort.
About M. Scott Smith

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.

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Reader Comments

November 20, 2008
Great report! We are ready!
Connie Lawn
November 20, 2008
Great photos and great news! You do a terrific service for all of us. Yours, Connie
Ed Fowler
November 22, 2008
Yaba daba dooooo

Liberty, Whitetail, Roundtop started tonight.

see what did I tell ya, No Sunspots early winter.
The cold air will be locked in all month of december. This is sweet. and early open.

AO, NAO negative No sunspots just awesome sweet.

This year the stars are aligning :o)
DCSki Reader
November 23, 2008
Cold weather, cheap gas, no investments left to worry about. Life is good!?!
DCSki Reader
November 24, 2008
Over 3 feet of snow in Canaan Valley in last three-four weeks. The only ski area open - WHITEGRASS(first to open in WV). If your not to fat or lazy, go ski to the top of whitegrass to experience real powder skiing.

Lift access at other resorts is good if you are into getting the vertical in, but you have to deal with crowds, lines, and "developed, commercialized" experience. If you are looking for a true winter experience and want to ski real powder you should really check out Whitegrass.

Ski and Tell

Speak truth to powder.

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