Southeast slope for a new ski area -will it work?
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mountains
December 7, 2008
Member since 12/7/2008 🔗
2 posts
Hello,

This is an idea I have debated for several years and maybe a little input from some others will help me...

In looking at the ski resorts in the mid-Atlantic (and other areas) almost all have north or northeast facing slopes for obvious reasons. Snowshoe's main slopes (not Cupp Run) face northeast and slightly east with one leaning towards southeast. Whitetail has a much lower elevation and southeast facing slopes. I have never been there but guess they make it work.

I have a mountain near Monterey, Virginia with a wide open meadow that faces east and southeast and additional potential slopes (steeper) that face east and slightly northeast. The base elevation is 3000, summit is 4000 with around 75 inches of snow at the base per year on average. I am looking at installing a surface lift with basic snow making. Call me crazy (my wife does). If I owned a north facing slope that would be better, but I don't. The easiest place to install this surface lift on my property would involve a 400 vertical and 1500 long surface lift. I could go longer and more vertical if I wanted.

I hesitate to undertake this project because the slope is facing east and southeast facing slope. At the same time I see Whitetail and wonder how they make it work? I certainly understand the advantages of being close to D.C. and loads of money to make snow. I am referring to the holding snow on this type of slope.

In general I like the idea of eventually offering a low key mom and pop ski area with some slopes and lift access to back country skiing. I have a few questions for you.

- Am I foolish for thinking about doing this?

- Can I hold the snow with compaction and grooming?

- And if I am total fool for considering this on my hill does anyone know of great little hill in the Highlands region or more specifically Tucker, Randolph, Pocahontas Counties of West Virginia? I'm not looking to create a resort. I'm not looking for 2000 ft of vertical. Just some skiing and maybe eventually offering some cheap family recreation.

Thanks
fishnski
December 7, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
I think that a well thought out Terrain Park for Snowboarders & an easy slope for beginer skiers would work.I've been looking at a few potential areas for a small scale project myself.
SkiMass
December 7, 2008
Member since 11/21/2008 🔗
22 posts
At that level 3000+ feet you be able to hold snow on your mountain.

a 1500 foot long surface lift is a questionable decision. Surface lifts have a tendency to melt out. If you buy a traditonal used lift you are looking at 350 to 500K for purchase and installation.

Old ski area saying, If you want make a small fortune in ski business invest a large fortune and it will become a small.
therusty
December 7, 2008
Member since 01/17/2005 🔗
422 posts
Mountains,

Skiing in the sun is simply more fun.

I've taught at Whitetail for 15+ seasons. The SE facing slopes receive more direct sunlight than NE facing slopes would. This causes snow to disappear faster. WT "makes it work" by making snow faster than it melts. Making snow costs big $$$$$. In theory, NE facing slopes require less snow making expense or get more ski days for the same expense. SE facing slopes also lose their "freshness" faster because snow warms and then refreezes more than on NE faces. WT makes it work by grooming. Grooming is not cheap either.

How much snow your mountain can hold will be dependent on the temps. WT also spends big $$$ on personalized weather forecasting. If you don't have thermometers set up on your property, that should be your first investment. One degree in average temp can make a huge difference on resort operation. If WT was in Frederick, MD it would have a lot less snow. You need to become an expert on the microclimate of your property.

Have we told you enough times about how to make a small fortune in the ski business: "Start with a large one"? A ski resort is a black hole that sucks in investment $$$. That said, almost every ski resort in the US started out with a crazy person like yourself who loved skiing and had a dream. While many did not succeed, some have. Many current resorts have been built upon the bankruptcies of previous ownerships. You may want to consider partnering with someone who has already learned the hard lessons of running s ski resort instead of having to learn everything the hard way yourself. You may also want to personally visit some of the smaller, privately owned resorts and talk to the owners. So, the answer to your question is "Yes - you are a total fool. But don't let that stop you." Right now, you need to know about a lot more important questions to ask than the ones you are asking, and then get the answers to those before you should be ready to take the plunge.

If you want to get a taste of what you're in for, try getting a copy of the computer game Ski Resort Tycoon.

If you want to run a cheap experiment, try a home snowmaking kit like this one

Have you seen the resort boneyeard for getting used equipment cheap?
Murphy
December 7, 2008
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
You could build Roger's Moonshine Mountain! grin


skier219
December 7, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I have eyeballed several great spots in the Monterey area the last few years and have fantasized about a small, mom & pop ski mountain in that area. It has all the makings of a great ski town. There are several mountains there that have a lot of potential, and the scenery is gorgeous.

Whereabouts is the mountain? I have noticed that the mountain range northwest of Monterey often has a lot more snow than the mountain range to the southeast. It's interesting how dramatic the difference can be sometimes. I think many storms end up getting scraped by the mountains to the northwest, so less snow falls to the southeast.

Generally, pure northern exposure is not desirable (leads to icy slopes), but northwest or northeast is. Anything with a southern component can pose challenges **but** it depends on how the fall line lies and how the trails can be cut. I have skied many trails on mountains with partial southern exposures but the trails themselves were tucked into ravines or valleys, or had a east/west face, and that makes a big difference. I think parts of Cupp and Shay's at Snowshoe may fall into this category.

In reality, you have the best knowledge by looking at the mountain's historical ability to hold snow after a storm -- that is what really counts. There is obviously some valuable data there.

I think this would be a great project and I would be curious to hear more details and brainstorm ideas. While you're at it, sign me up for a season pass! Be glad to volunteer for ski patrol too.

In case anyone is wondering about the area, use Google Earth to look at the mountains near Monterey, Virginia, and you'll see some wonderful terrain.
skier219
December 7, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
snosnugums
December 7, 2008
Member since 04/10/2006 🔗
126 posts
I suggest you check out the "Lost Mid-Atlantic Ski Areas" section of this website.
Roger Z
December 7, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
2 years of grad school and that's my signature achievement, a ski area drawing. crazy Note that the intermediate runs face west southwest.

Anyway, southeast isn't as bad as southwest. Think of installing some trees as a windbreak- conifers. East is doable. If you've got some leverage, look to minimize sun exposure with that east face you were talking about. However you slice it, south-facing is not great this far south in latitude. And good luck!
David
December 7, 2008
Member since 06/28/2004 🔗
2,444 posts
Hey Craig. Sorry, but I can't help but point out some good stuff in that link you posted. I sure miss all that negativity. Here are a couple funny things I found...

Originally Posted By: Mountain Masher
Sounds interesting but no details are given about the following: number of ski slopes, vertical, or number and type of lifts. I would say that the ski slope(s) won't amount to much because the primary purpose of the development will be to sell expensive houses, row-houses and condos. Also, given the mild weather trends, any new ski area (so far South) should have a base elevation in excess of 4,800 feet. Anything less and it's going to be quite difficult to keep a snow base down during much of the Winter.


Originally Posted By: Mountain Masher
A ski area of significant size with a climate "similar to Wintergreen" would have a very hard time making a go of it, given the enormous amout of snow that would have to be made and the difficulty of keeping a base down. Also, the weather in the area of Phoenix Mt. will likely be even warmer in another 10 years.


Originally Posted By: Mountain Masher
STOP misrepresenting my posts!!!!!!!! I stated that there would be a ski area (or perhaps a few) within the mid-Atlantic that would close by the first weekend in March. And, that prediction was basically on the mark as there WAS a ski area within the mid-Atlantic that closed only one day later than my prediction. This, despite a blast of cold air that stayed around until mid March. And, about skiing this weekend? Get real! Perhaps the only place with legitimate skiing will be the Shoe, and even the Shoe is going to have some limitations. Also, I pointed out the difference between Technical Closure Dates (TCDs) for ski areas and the last day of legitimate skiing. And, by the way, you REALLY DO live in a dream world if you think that there's going to be some real skiing at Wintergreen this weekend!!!! Hopefully, someone will go so we can have a TR on how AWESOME the skiing at Wintergreen was on April 1&2.
fishnski
December 8, 2008
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
THE MASH!!!..Do we miss him?...I think he has been posting as DCski reader lately...might be his cuz..
skier219
December 8, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
I think those quotes from MM were referring to a proposed ski area much further south in NC. In the mountains northwest of Monterey, it's a much better climate for a ski area -- similar to Snowshoe in some cases. Actually, I have skied at Snowshoe and then found more snow on the drive home when passing through the mountains to the northwest of Monterey. So I think it's got potential.
Roger Z
December 8, 2008
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Mash HAS a poINT. Blue KNOB has destroyed THE environment. Any ATTEMPT to MAKE A NEW ski area will CERTAINLY fail due to THE evil BLUE knob.
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