Cold, Snow Prime Great Season Start
Author thumbnail By M. Scott Smith, DCSki Editor

At this time last year, Mid-Atlantic ski resorts looked with a wary eye towards long-term weather forecasts that showed no sign of sub-freezing temperatures. Temperatures didn’t drop into snowmaking range until just a few days before Christmas, delaying openings and limiting open terrain to a small handful of trails until well into January.

So far, this winter seems to be using a different play book than last year’s. Temperatures dipped into snowmaking range by mid-November, allowing many resorts to claim pre-Thanksgiving opening dates. The cold stuck around last week, allowing round-the-clock snowmaking, and just in time for the weekend, Mother Nature has added her own coat of snow, dropping up to 8 inches of snow across the area by mid-day Thursday. The natural snow is the icing on the cake; a torrent of resorts plan to open this weekend with the best opening day conditions in memory, while already-open resorts plan to add to the available terrain.

Mid-Atlantic Conditions Summary for Thursday, December 5, 2002

Sweeping across the region and starting in the south, North Carolina’s Beech and Sugar Mountain resorts each received 6-8 inches of snow on Wednesday as the storm tracked north. Both resorts have a few trails open, but might receive a mix of rain or freezing rain today. Snowmaking could resume tonight and the resorts plan to have good conditions this weekend.

Heading north, Virginia’s Wintergreen Resort had three trails open yesterday but hopes to have around eight trails open this weekend, including its snow tubing park. Massanutten plans to begin its season on Friday with 7 of 14 trails open and 8 lanes in the tubing park. Bryce plans to open on Saturday.

West Virginia resorts received plenty of natural snow yesterday and into today, and West Virginia’s Canaan Valley Resort began its season Thursday morning by opening three trails.

“We’ll definitely be open from mid-station down for the weekend, and there is a chance we’ll be able to open from the top of the mountain down too,” said Chuck Trader, Managing Director for Canaan Valley Resort.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort, one of the earliest resorts to open this season, has been focused on opening more terrain. 20 of 57 trails are currently open with packed powder conditions, and the resort’s signature trail, Cupp Run, is scheduled to go on-line Friday. By this weekend, around 28 trails should be open.

“Road crews will be out clearing the roads today, so you’ll have no problem at all making it up this weekend to enjoy all the great snow,” said the resort’s Joe Stevens.

Although Timberline Resort has been making snow, the resort does not plan to open until December 12.

Maryland’s only ski resort, Wisp, could receive up to a foot of snow by the time the storm wraps up, and has 9 trails open with possibly more opening by the weekend. Wisp’s Bear Claw Tubing Park also opens for the season this afternoon.

Most ski resorts in Pennsylvania will be open by this weekend, although a handful will wait another week or so before opening.

Alpine Mountain plans to open on Saturday, and Bear Creek will open on Monday, Dec. 9.

“By opening day, we should have about 80% of the mountain open -; we’re going to be in excellent shape,” said Mark Schroetel, Bear Creek’s General Manager.

Big Boulder is opening Saturday, and Jack Frost, its sister resort, will follow with an opening a week later on December 14.

Blue Knob has 6 trails open, while Blue Mountain has 7 trails on-line. Blue Mountain plans to open an additional 6-7 trails on Friday.

Camelback will open on Friday. Ski Denton has 5 slopes open. Elk Mountain will open on Monday, Dec. 9 with at least 7 trails.

Hidden Valley Resort will have 5-7 trails open today and plans to open snow tubing this weekend. Nearby Seven Springs already has 21 trails open, more than 2/3 of the resort’s terrain.

Laurel Mountain has been making snow but will not open its slopes until Monday, Dec. 14.

Liberty Mountain Resort expects to receive up to 10 inches of snow by tonight, and has been making snow all week. Liberty plans to open tomorrow.

Ski Roundtop opened last week and is going strong with 5 trails open.

Whitetail opened temporarily last weekend, and will re-open on Friday with 7 trails, including a path down from the summit, serviced by the Whitetail Express high-speed quad. Whitetail has had its snowmaking system in high gear non-stop since Sunday night, and may be able to open additional terrain by the weekend.

Montage Mountain has marked Friday as its opening day, and Shawnee Mountain will reopen on Friday after opening briefly earlier in the season.

Natural snow is still falling as this article goes to press; most resorts should receive at least a few inches and possibly up to a foot of snow.Before visiting Indeed, this weekend is looking like a great time to ski or board.

DCSki recommends contacting individual resorts directly before making a trip to verify operating status and current conditions. Some resorts may be operating on limited schedules until more terrain is open. Roads should be clear by this weekend, but always check road conditions before heading out.

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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