I should have an article soon talking about the current snowmaking situation and expected opening dates for area resorts.
Snowshoe isn't the only resort blowing snow right now; Seven Springs has been making snow and may open later this week. Seven Springs and Hidden Valley both received several inches of natural snow today.
But, to address your question - why some of the closer resorts (Whitetail, Liberty) aren't making snow yet. These resorts are in warmer terrain than some of the more distant resorts, and the long-term forecast shows temperatures that are borderline in terms of snowmaking and keeping any manmade snow on the ground.
It really takes a few days of solid snowmaking to open a couple trails, with daytime temperatures staying at or below freezing, and no threat of mild temperatures looming on the horizon. On top of that, it is enormously expensive for resorts to open. The day that they open, they basically have to put a huge staff on payroll (lift operators, food service, ski school, ski patrol, etc. etc.) and handle all of the associated logistics. Once these wheels start turning, you don't want to stop them by having to shut down a few days later. So resorts are usually very cautious to pick their opening day so it will be their first and *only* opening day for the season.
Not only that, but note that many resorts are holding job fairs right now. If they havent reached their staffing requirements, they can't open.
Making snow is also very, very expensive. Three or four great days of snowmaking might not be enough to open the slopes (for good), and if the temperature warms even a bit, the snow you made - with its razor-thin base - will disappear in a day.
And finally, even with great slope conditions, historically skiers don't like to ski before late December or after late February. It's a mental thing. In past years, some of the resorts in the area had fantastic spring skiing conditions but shut down with large bases simply because people stopped coming.
So these are probably some of the reasons why most resorts in the area haven't started the snowguns up yet, even though they're lining the slopes and ready to go. They're being conservative and looking for a long enough window to reach critical mass in terms of snowmaking. In recent years, a lot of resorts got burned because an early-season blast of cold air evaporated into warm and mild temperatures through December and into early January. (That's not as likely this year, since El Nino is gone.)
As far as Snow Time, Inc. - owner of Liberty, Whitetail and Roundtop, being the Microsoft of local skiing, I just don't think there has been any slackening of the desire to serve local skiers. Each area draws from a different population and I know Liberty has not slacked off. Lots of $$$ went into the snowmaking system over the summer. Besides, as is obvious from the posts here, the local skier has lots of choices on where to spend their dollars...
If they call me in, I will have to teach on rentals. .
Credit to Eric Flynn of Skiliberty, for seeing that the resort will open soon (and for letting me ride my All Terrain Board up there during their picnic in the fall!).
...last minute shopping spree tomorrow for gear I've been putting off buying.. DOH!
Join the conversation by logging in.
Don't have an account? Create one here.