With temperatures finally falling below freezing, and the forecast showing that they’ll stay there for awhile, the first major volley of snowmaking has hit the mid-Atlantic region. So far this season, the only local resorts able to snatch opening dates have been North Carolina’s Sugar Mountain and West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Last night, snowguns rang out at resorts in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina, while several areas dug out of some natural snow courtesy of Mother Nature.
Sugar Mountain was the first resort in the region to open this season, opening a top-to-bottom run on November 26, 2004. The opening was short-lived; the resort was forced to close the trail after warm weather settled back over the region. The resort is now open again with 4 trails available as of Monday.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort opened four trails on December 3, and had increased its open trail count to 8 by yesterday. Ten inches of fresh powder fell on Snowshoe from Saturday through Monday, and with over 200 snowguns roaring, Snowshoe hopes to offer 30 open trails at the Snowshoe and Silver Creek areas. Snowshoe plans to open the Spruce Glas Terrain Park on Thursday. Open trails will have a 2-3 foot base. With the cold temperatures at Snowshoe, it is likely the resort will have close to 100% terrain open by the upcoming holiday period.
Now, the push is on for a deluge of resort openings, and DCSki expects the ropes to drop at many additional resorts by this weekend.
Maryland’s Wisp Resort is currently shooting for an opening on Friday, December 17. Wisp received several inches of snow over the weekend and expects to receive 6-8 inches more today and tomorrow. The resort has started round-the-clock snowmaking efforts.
Wisp plans to open Squirrel Cage, The Face, Boulder, Possum, Belly Flop and the Wisp Trail, with East Ridge trails coming on-line next week. Over the summer, Wisp’s snowmaking capacity was increased by 18% with the addition of a new $3 million pumphouse.
Pennsylvania’s Seven Springs Resort also received some recent fresh snow, and is blasting the guns in an effort to open some trails by this weekend. The resort plans to announce opening details later on Tuesday.
Ski Roundtop and Whitetail began aggressive snowmaking efforts last night. Whitetail began making snow on beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain, including Limelight, Angel Drop, Homerun, Exhibition, and the Snow Tubing Park.
Other Pennsylvania resorts planning to open over the next few days include Alpine Mountain, Blue Knob, Camelback, Elk Mountain, Montage Mountain, and Shawnee Mountain.
Virginia’s Massanutten Resort has begun snowmaking, and is shooting for an opening on Friday or Saturday, December 18. The Homestead and Bryce resorts also hope to open in the next few days. Wintergreen began making snow on Saturday night and plans to open by December 18.
Currently, the only downhill ski area open in West Virginia is Snowshoe Mountain Resort, but Snowshoe will be joined by its peers later this week. Canaan Valley Resort, Timberline, and Winterplace have all begun making snow and are shooting to open by this weekend. Canaan Valley Resort will be offering $5 lift tickets on December 17, 18, and 19, 2004, to anyone who donates a new, unwrapped toy values at $5 or more to Toys or Tots. Donations may be dropped off at the ticket office or at the front desk.
With the cold temperatures and aggressive snowmaking efforts, mid-Altantic skiers and boarders should soon have a wide choice of resorts to visit. As always, DCSki recommends contacting a resort prior to making a visit to receive the latest condition information. Some resorts may offer limited terrain or limited hours early in the season, so best to call ahead.
To view weather information and snowmaking forecasts for local resorts, don’t forget to check the DCSki Weather Page.
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.