A relatively mild November presented few snowmaking opportunities, but in what might be described as penance, Mother Nature delivered the first significant snowstorm of the season to high elevation areas of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylania. Some areas received as much as nine inches of natural snowfall, allowing cross country skiers to flock to their favorite mountain trails. Where there’s snow there’s also cold, and cold temperatures allowed many Mid-Atlantic resorts to launch full-scale snowmaking efforts. Cold temperatures throughout the upcoming week -; at least during the night -; could allow a number of resorts to open in the next 7-10 days.
Some lucky skiers and boarders have already made their first turns of the season. Maryland’s Wisp Resort opened its 100-yard Belly Flop beginner terrain on November 27, allowing families and beginners to try out a new magic ski carpet installed over the summer. The conveyor-like carpet makes the first trip up the slopes less intimidating than a lift or rope tow. Just after opening, Wisp received half a foot of fresh snow.
Snowmaking is underway on Squirrel Cage, The Face, Boulder Run, and Grouse Way, and Wisp hopes to open additional terrain in the coming days.
North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain has also opened for the season, and is currently offering skiing and boarding on Upper and Lower Flying Mile, Load Off, Switchback, and Northridge. Sugar Mountain received two inches of powder from the weekend storm.
In Virginia, The Homestead made snow through much of the weekend, focusing efforts on its main slope, teaching area, and tubing park. With good snowmaking prospects throughout the week, The Homestead is on track to open in early December.
West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort received 9 inches of snow from the weekend storm, and took advantage of temperatures in the teens to blast many slopes with snowmaking. Snowmaking is underway on over 20 trails. Snowshoe is planning to open on Friday, December 5, but may move the opening date up a day or two.
The natural snow allowed the Snowshoe Mountain Adventure Department to open 5-10 kilometers of backcountry terrain for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Those interested in some Nordic action should first call the Mountain Adventure Department at 304-572-5477.
West Virginia’s White Grass Touring Center also opened over the weekend thanks to the natural snowfall. White Grass had 50 kilometers of trails open by Sunday, with many groomed.
Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs Resort received 3 inches of natural snow and has been making snow on trails such as Upper Phillip’s Run, Fawn Lane, Wagner, Stowe, Avalanche and Tyrol. Seven Springs hopes to open the weekend of December 6-7.
Other resorts hoping for an opening next weekend include Montage Mountain, Shawnee Mountain, Big Boulder, Canaan Valley, and Winterplace.
Before planning a trip to any resort, be sure to call the resort to verify operating conditions. Many resorts offer limited terrain during the beginning of the season.
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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