And that’s a good thing.
Chilly temperatures in late November allowed a number of resorts to snag pre-December opening dates, including Sugar Mountain, Snowshoe Mountain Resort, Seven Springs, even Whitetail and Ski Roundtop.
And it’s going to get colder. Temperatures this week may not climb above freezing at higher elevations, and will dip into the teens at night. This represents ideal conditions for snowmaking, and few if any resorts in the Mid-Atlantic will let this opportunity go by without blanketing slopes. By next weekend, there should be a palette of resorts to choose from for some early-season skiing and boarding.
North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain was the first area resort to open this season, and the resort has since expanded its trail count to include 7 open trails with a 20-46 inch base. Beech Mountain, another North Carolina resort, is also open.
West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort was second to open, and was blessed by receiving 9 inches of natural snow over the weekend. Snowshoe had already blasted the snowguns for 94 hours last week, and has now started snowmaking on Upper and Lower Cupp Run -; the resort’s flagship black diamond that drops 1,500 feet over 1.5 miles. With temperatures in the single digits at the 4,800-foot high resort, Snowshoe is hoping to open Cupp Run by this weekend. Snowshoe’s open trail count -; currently 13 -; will undoubtedly be going up over the next few days.
Virginia’s Wintergreen Resort has two trails open, and in Maryland, Wisp Resort is open with 5 trails. To the north in Pennsylvania, Seven Springs already has 11 trails open, and nearby Hidden Valley grabbed its earliest opening date in 15 years by opening three trails on Nov. 29.
Two of the resorts closest to D.C. -; Ski Roundtop and Whitetail -; also opened with limited terrain this past weekend, one of the earliest opening dates on record for them. Whitetail will be closed midweek as it focuses on snowmaking, but expects to open permanently for the season by the coming weekend. We expect Whitetail will be able to open at least one top-to-bottom run off the Whitetail Express lift by the weekend. Pennsylvania’s Shawnee Mountain is also open.
As always, before visiting any resort, check with the resort directly to verify current conditions and operating schedule. Some resorts, like Whitetail, may be closed midweek or be running on a reduced schedule. Many resorts are offering special early-season discounts, but these will likely disappear soon as open trail counts go up.
The current long-term forecast shows sub-freezing temperatures continuing for the next week, with temperatures possibly climbing to more seasonal levels after that. For the next few days, at least, resorts will have a good chance to build up base depths on a number of trails.
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.