There are a few no-brainers in life. Driving requires gas, swimming requires water and skiing requires snow. Lots of snow.
So what do you do when you're a premier ski resort that's faced record-breaking warm temperatures the last two weeks? Wait for the temperature to drop and make snow. Lots of snow.
"We will have our snowmaking capacity at full peak by the middle of next week and you would never know that we had a January thaw," Winterplace Ski Resort management member Tom Peterson said Friday.
"The forecast looks good for now and the next six days."
Peterson said that in order for snow to be reproduced artificially, the temperature must drop below 32 degrees. Water is pumped out of a nearby man-made lake and is forced through nozzles of compressed air. When the super-cooled water droplets hit the air - presto - you have snow. The snow can then be moved around by bulldozers. Because of the 6-degree difference in temperature, snowmaking usually occurs at the top of the mountain first and then moves to the base.
"You need to have really dry air and low humidity," Peterson said. "If it gets too cold, then the nozzles start to freeze up."
Peterson said when the system is fully operational, 7,000 gallons of water are pumped out of the lake per minute. This can produce up to 2 1/2 feet of snow in 48 hours. The lake holds at least 25 million gallons of water.
"Our goal is to empty the lake and we've done that before," He said. "When that happens, there is at least a 3-foot base or more."
Although attendance has been down due to the unseasonably warm weather, Peterson said the three-day weekend marking Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday should be busy for the resort.
"It's a big weekend for us typically and you have lots of youth groups which plan trips because of the long weekend," He said.
Shelese Jones of Atlanta made the 10-hour trip to Winterplace with her friends from Gracepoint Nazarene Church.
"It's my first time skiing and I did pretty well," Jones said. "I like the cold weather."
For Sheila Bomar of Greenville, N.C., the trip to Ghent has been a yearly event.
"We have 70 kids that we bring here from the People's Baptist Church," Bomar said. "We have been coming here for the last 15 years and we stay at Appalachian Bible College (in Bradley)."
Peterson said officials never considered closing during the recent spell of warm weather and everyone is looking forward to normal temperatures for this time of the year. Currently, there are three lifts and eight trails open, but that could double by Sunday.
"We will be back up to full skiing in no time and that's a testament to our snowmaking capabilities," he said. "We try to make every weekend a party for the skiers."