The Land of Certain Snow

By Sam Calhoun (

Article Published: Dec. 15, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
The Land of Certain Snow

"The Land of Certain Snow."

Photo by Rob Moore

Some of the original promotional materials in 1969 for Sugar Mountain Resort labeled the High Country as "The Land of Certain Snow."

That used to make me chuckle - as it did to our local ski industry forefathers when each explained in past interviews of the lengths they would sometimes go to brand our adolescent ski slopes in the late 1960s and early 1970s as viable ventures.

It used to be funny, of course.

It used to be funny between about 2002 and 2008, when arguably mediocre winters bookended each new year.

That's all over now. That was about three feet of snow ago. For the last two weekends of copious snowfall and subzero wind chills are significant, even though Mother Nature may have had a late start.

"It seems like this winter picked up where last winter left off," a friend noted, as he untangled the ice from his beard.

And so it seems like our cyclical weather pattern has, perhaps, brought us back to our sensationalized label; perhaps we are, at least for the moment, "The Land of Certain Snow."

Go play in it.

Around the Slopes...
Most people assume that heavy snows and falling temps are desirable for local snowsports resorts.

And though it is right to assume that a little help from Mother Nature is welcomed, the resorts actually somewhat lament the snowy weather when it means that driving conditions are so poor that customers can't reach their mountains.

Such was the case this week at Hawksnest Resort, where staff had to make the call to close snow tubing on Monday and Tuesday on account of dangerous roadways leading to the resort - even though the dumping of snow made for great conditions.

Hawksnest reopened Wednesday, Dec. 15, however, and is offering its regular schedule of 1.75-hour snow tubing sessions, beginning at 10 a.m. each day. Sessions cost $24 on weekdays and $32 on weekends and holidays. Holiday rates take effects between Dec. 20 and 31.

Carved above a 39- to 69-inch average snow depth sits 16 open trails at Sugar Mountain Resort this week, which are receiving fresh coatings of powder from the relentless arctic blast. Sugar pulled in at least two feet from the last storm - despite the hurricane-force winds that accompanied - which enabled the resort to open Sugar Slalom and Whoopdedo to skiers and snowboarders. Five open lifts currently service the slopes, ice skating is open and snowshoe tours are on schedule.

Daily through Friday, Dec. 24, Santa will be making turns on Sugar's slopes, visiting with children.

This is always a unique and fun-filled activity for families-it certainly beats visiting Santa at the mall during holiday shopping.

Santa will pull double duty on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, when he also shows up to carve some tracks at Appalachian Ski Mountain.

Appalachian is boasting a base depth of 59 to 88 inches, with packed powder conditions. No doubt walloped by the storm like the rest of us, Appalachian's conditions are as enjoyable (and as deep) as you could have wished for at this point in the season. Kudos to the App staff: All nine slopes, as well as all three terrain parks, are currently open at App. Five open lifts currently service the resort, ice skating is open and night skiing is in full swing.

Appalachian hosts its first Fresh Friday event this Friday, Dec. 17. The annual series features free-to-enter jam sessions on a constantly evolving terrain park setup. Registration this Friday takes place between 5 and 6:30 p.m. in the upper level of the lodge; competition begins at 7 p.m.

Also mark your calendar for the week after Christmas - Dec. 26 to 30 - when App's Midnight Blast promotion begins for the 2010-11 season. During the promotion, which continues every Friday and Saturday night in January and February 2011, night skiing will be offered through midnight-the only late-night skiing in the region.

Anteing up with 12 of 15 slopes open atop a 30- to 55-inch base of natural and manmade snow, Ski Beech is looking to make it 15 of 15 slopes open and operational by the end of this week, according to general manager Ryan Costin. That means everyone's favorite cliff jump, Upper White Lightning; the mogul-laden rollercoaster, Upper Southern Star; and the mountain's best-kept backside secret, Oz Run, will be filled with skiers and snowboarders before Christmas-a somewhat rare holiday gift.

Ski Beech marketing director Talia Freeman skied atop Beech during this past weekend's storm and noted, "That was the best snow we've ever had in December." Forecasted temperatures are favorable for the pristine conditions to continue through the Christmas holiday. The snow will serve as a romantic backdrop to Ski Beech's Christmas Eve Service, which will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 24, around the ice skating rink in the Beech Tree Village.

Go play in the snow.

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