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Mitigating Mother Nature

By Sam Calhoun (

Article Published: Jan. 26, 2012 | Modified: Jan. 26, 2012
Mitigating Mother Nature

Photo by Rob Moore

During this week in 2011, we were preparing for what Dr. Ray Russell called “the largest snowstorm of the winter.”

While those forecasts scrolled across our desktops, we boasted base depths at our slopes that topped out between 88 and 111 inches, and then the storm came, just like Ray promised, dumping another healthy helping of snow that lasted through February.
The weather is noticeably different this year.

But there in lies the beauty of what we have in our backyard. Mother Nature’s role in negatively affecting our winter prosperity has been successfully mitigated, as evident in the respectable base depths, quality conditions and open slopes, terrain parks and tubing runs at our four snowsport resorts, despite the lack of natural snowfall thus far this season.

Tuesday’s weather for skiing was awe-inspiring — a blue bird day on ball-bearing East Coast powder.

It was good to soak that in; good to remember that winter isn’t all clouds, gray and rain. Sometimes it’s sunny, sometimes it’s snowy — but we always get to ski, no matter what the weather.

Hats off to our snowmakers; hats off to our mountain managers — we’re thankful for your talents.
Go play in the snow.

Around the Slopes

(828) 898-4521
Status: OPEN

As of presstime, Sugar Mountain Resort features an 18- to 46-inch base of loose and frozen granular, with 13 of 20 slopes open and five of 11 lifts in use.

Snow-tubing is open, ice skating is open and night skiing is available.

Sugar’s double-black diamond slope, Whoopdedoo, looked and skied fantastic on Tuesday, Jan. 24, it’s precipice draped in snow, basking in the sun. Conditions have been quite enjoyable at Sugar, as of late, which bodes well for February, when colder, snowier weather is sure to persist for more than a few days — right?

Look to Sugar for good après ski opportunities next month when Boss Hawg, High Country bluegrass staples, plays the resort from 4 to 6 p.m. on both Feb. 4 and 18.
Oh, and “happy birthday, Gunther!”

(828) 963-6561
Status: OPEN

After offering 20 lanes of snow-tubing to guests on Sunday, Jan. 22, Hawksnest Resort — the largest snow-tubing park on the East Coast — closed on Monday, Jan. 23, to protect its terrain from rain.

Reopening on Tuesday, Jan. 24, with a respectable 18 tubing lanes — considering the warm temperatures — Hawksnest offered a blue bird day to both tubing and zipline guests. With a promise of a cold snap Saturday and Sunday, the weather looks promising for some faster and deeper tubing runs this weekend.

(828) 387-2011
Status: OPEN

As of presstime, Beech Mountain Resort features a 16- to 46-inch base of wet granular, with 11 of 15 trails open and three-of-seven lifts available.

Night skiing is currently available, and ice skating is open.

Beech hosted Adaptive Ski Week last week, coming off the heels of a successful MLK weekend. A week of fun on the snow for individuals with disabilities, Adaptive Ski Week has taken place at Beech for more than three decades and is the oldest adaptive ski clinic started by Disabled Sports USA.

Following Adaptive Ski Week, High Country Nordic Association hosted the second annual Tele-Fest atop Beech, offering tele-skiers camaraderie, education and a chance to try out different gear. To get involved with future events, type “High Country Nordic Association” into Facebook.

Coming up Feb. 3 through 12, Beech will play host to College Fest, a fortunate span of time for co-eds when they receive discounted lift tickets just by presenting a college ID (sign up in Group Sales).

(828) 295-7828
Status: OPEN

As of presstime, Appalachian Ski Mountain and Appalachian Terrain Park feature 44- to 74-inch groomed bases, with 12 of 12 slopes open and six of six lifts available.
Night sessions are available, and ice skating is open.

No matter the warm temps and rain, Appalachian aims to impress with all of its slopes and terrain parks — not to mention its Zamboni-maintained ice rink — open to guests.

This weekend is Blowing Rock’s annual WinterFest celebration, and Appalachian is joining in the revelry with two events, including WinterFest Family Night this Friday, Jan. 27. Billed as fun for all ages, Family Night will offer late-night skiing from 5 p.m. to midnight, late-night ice skating from 10 p.m. to midnight, learn to ski/board package deals, a snow play zone for the young ones, s’more roasting by the bonfire and — as perhaps the greatest idea of all — massage stations hosted by The Sanctuary.

The soiree continues from 10:30 a.m. to noon this Sunday, Jan. 29, with Appalachian’s WinterFest Snowman Building Contest. App will designate a special snow-play area on Avery’s Appal and have it stocked with plenty of the white stuff for the participants’ palette. Families and/or groups of up to five people are encouraged to sign up for the contest beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the main office on the lower level of the base lodge. Registration is free, but there is a 25-person limit. App will supply standard snowman accessories, such as coal and carrots, but extra “flair” is welcome and can be brought in by competitors.

Sandwiched in between the WinterFest events, this Saturday, Jan. 28, Appalachian and Red Bull will host ThingamaJIB, a top jib competition integrating unlikely features, such as satellite dishes, propane tanks and telephone booths. So, if you need a break from WinterFest, how about something completely different?

Go play in the snow.

Other helpful links …
Jonas Ridge Snow-Tubing
(828) 733-4155

N.C. Ski Areas Association

High Country Host Ski Website

Ski NC

Ski column archives

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