Never Too Old to Sled
You couldn't ask for a better December for snowsports.
If I'm not mistaken, measurable snow fell on three out of four weekends this month. And according to sources, 60.2 inches of natural snow has fallen atop Beech Mountain since this dance began - even Boone has received almost half that total, with 27.85 inches to date.
The ski conditions are simply superb; snow appetites are quenched.
Even the backcountry is brilliant. A former ski resort slope between Banner Elk and Boone has looked liked its heyday as of late, with consistently heavy coatings of powder and pack, offering the adventurous a few quick turns for a hike. Such is the case at countless hillsides across the region, as the snow opens opportunities for exploration and tree runs fit for a western backcountry poacher.
And how about those tubing runs? Piled high with pow and slicked from repeated use, the runs just get faster and faster, creating the ultimate sledding experience.
You are never too old to sled.
In these conditions, the local landscape transforms into an amusement park of sledding terrain-the envy of the flatlanders down our rime-ice-capped mountain chain.
But above all, during this time of snow wealth, our region shines for its skiing and snowboarding. There is no better time than now to experience the High Country ski and snowboard world.
And it's about to be a new year.
And all our visiting friends from far and wide have packed into their SUVs to come to share in the celebration.
And we welcome them with open arms and a healthy dose of warm mountain hospitality.
We even have enough snow for everyone to take some home.
Go play in it.
Around the Slopes...
With bases piling higher than a New York City Times Square snowdrift, Sugar Mountain Resort, Appalachian Ski Mountain, Hawksnest Resort and Ski Beech at Beech Mountain Resort are all offering New Year's vacationers a romp equal to their wildest holiday dreams.
After a white Christmas walloped the region with upwards of more than a foot of snow, Sugar sits with a 45- to 92-inch base and all 20 slopes open, Appalachian offers a 68- to 94-inch base with all 12 slopes open, and Ski Beech reports a 45- to 80-inch base with all 15 slopes open. Atop Seven Devils, Hawksnest employees are reporting "tons of snow," with all 20 snow tubing lanes open to guests.
Kudos to all four of our resorts for having all terrain open for the holidays - we are on top of our game less than halfway through the 2010-11 winter season, and that's to be commended and taken advantage of by locals and tourist, alike.
As of press time, tubing is available at Sugar and Hawksnest; ice skating is available at Sugar, Appalachian and Ski Beech; snowshoeing is available by appointment at Sugar; and night skiing is taking place at Sugar, Appalachian and Ski Beech.
And the moment all the tourists have been waiting for - New Year's Eve - is just around the corner, with no shortage of opportunities to celebrate at each ski resort.
This Friday, Dec. 31, Ski Beech will host a New Year's Eve Celebration featuring cover band Walrus from Greensboro. Champagne toasts, ice skating through midnight, food and a shuttle service to points across Beech Mountain are offered during the event. Attendees will pay $10 to get in and then another $25 to reserve a table.
Sugar Mountain Resort will ring in 2011 with its New Year's Eve Celebration, which features music by The Johnson Brothers from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., a torchlight parade at 11:45 p.m. and a fireworks display at 11:55 a.m., all this Friday, Dec. 31. Tickets, which include champagne toasts, are $80 per couple or $45 per single for seating in the band room, and $45 per couple or $25 per single in the lounge area. For reservations, call (828) 898-4521, extension 233, or (828) 898-5737.
To ring in 2011, App is hosting its annual New Year's Eve Extravaganza between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. this Friday, Dec. 31. The event includes fireworks, torchlight skiing, moonlight ice skating between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. and breakfast available to guests between 9 p.m. and midnight.
Appalachian Ski Mountains' Midnight Blast promotion, which allows skiing and snowboarding until midnight, began this week and will continue through this Thursday, Dec. 30. After Thursday, the promotion will continue every Friday and Saturday night in January and February 2011.
Looking ahead, Appalachian's first Ladies Park Night of the 2010-11 season takes place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. The event is free with the purchase of a lift ticket. For the two Ladies Park Nights of the season, Appalachian Terrain Park (ATP) will construct a terrain park area with special features specifically designed for learning and progression that will be open to ladies only.
"We want women of all ages and abilities, both ski and snowboard, to get together and ride in a laid-back environment among friends," ATP director Drew Stanley said. Featuring a flexible, open format, the nights are about improving park skills, and Stanley has staffed 'Trick Tip Advisors' that will be on hand to answer questions and help with progress. After each night, prizes will be raffled off to participants.
The 16th annual National Winter Trails Day will take place at Sugar Mountain Resort on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. The one-day national event offers children and adults new to snowsports a chance to try snowshoeing for free. Free one-hour snowshoe guided tours include snowshoes and are available at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Jan. 8. Adult tours are for ages 12 and up, and children's tours are for 8 to 11 year olds. Participants should meet at the ski/snowboard school building at least 15 minutes prior to tour time; participation is limited and is first come, first served.
Did you know if you are aged 70 or above you can ski free at Sugar Mountain Resort? Anyone qualifying as a legit septuagenarian with a photo ID qualifies for complimentary ski passes to Sugar, and every year the resort honors these agile elders with a Septuagenarian Party, which will be held at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011, in Sugar's Last Run Lounge.
Post New Year's Eve atop Beech Mountain, Ski Beech will be preparing for 2011 Winterfest, which takes place on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 8 and 9. Described as a family-oriented weekend, Winterfest features the famous Cardboard Box Derby, the Nestle Bathing Beauty Competition, the Extreme Snowboard and Ski Village Rail Jam, the Edge of the World Big Air Competition and Skiercross/Boardercross Race and the premiere of the inaugural Beech Mountain Chili, Chowder, Soups and Stews Cook-Off. More information on the event will appear in next week's column.
Go play in the snow.
Through Dec. 30-Midnight Blast, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Through Dec. 31-Holiday Rates, Hawksnest Resort
Dec. 29 and 30-USSA Holiday Slalom and Giant Slalom Competition, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 31-New Year's Eve Celebration, Beech Tree Bar & Grille, Beech Mountain Resort
Dec. 31-New Year's Celebration, Sugar Mountain Resort
Dec. 31-New Year's Eve Extravaganza, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Every Friday and Saturday in January-Midnight Blast, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Jan. 1- Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 7-Fresh Friday 2, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Jan. 8-National Winter Trails Day, Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 8-Ladies Park Night, Appalachian Ski Mountain
Jan. 8-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 8 and 9-Winterfest Weekend, Beech Mountain Resort
Jan. 8 and 9-Crescent Ski Council Competition, Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 11-Septuagenarian Party, Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 16-Boardercross Series Race, Beech Mountain Resort
Jan. 16 and 17-College Race, Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 22-Boss Hawg Concert, 4 to 6 p.m., Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 23-High Country Junior Race Series Giant Slalom, Sugar Mountain Resort
Jan. 30-High Country Race Series Boardercross Race, Beech Mountain Resort