By Nathan Ham
Skiers, snowboarders and tubers will have some terrific conditions across the High Country this weekend. That is, if you are one of the lucky ones to be able to get out on the slopes.
Beech Mountain is completely booked up for Saturday and Sunday, according to Talia Freeman, Beech Mountain Resort’s Director of Marketing, and Hawksnest snow tubing is booked up Saturday, Sunday and Monday and each of the next two weekends according to owner Lenny Cottom.
“We’ve had a lot of natural snow in December and January. This is the most snow we’ve had in January since probably 2012. Conditions are great and everything looks good. The new snowmaking investment has paid off, you can see a notable difference,” said Freeman. “We are sold out Saturday and Sunday. We’re trying to be forthcoming and transparent with our customers so they are not driving up here and not able to get in.”
As of Friday afternoon, Beech Mountain has all 17 of its trails open, including Oz Run which they were hoping to have groomed and ready to go for this weekend.
Beech Mountain does offer special weeknight promotions, including student night on Tuesday night, men’s night on Wednesday night and ladies’ night on Thursday night. Tickets for those nights are all $15. They also offer a weekday season pass for $225.
Hawksnest has close to 30 tubing lanes open right now.
“There’s a lot of snow here, we’re expecting a little dusting this weekend so it should be fine as long as the roads are nice and clear we should be good to go,” said Cottom.
With reservations quickly filling up, Cottom highly recommends that if you can, come on weekdays.
“It’s less expensive and a little less crowded,” he added.
Appalachian Ski Mtn. has sold out all tickets for Saturday’s day session. However, tickets still remain for the night session on Saturday and for both Sunday sessions. With the flex ticket option, skiers can rest assured knowing that regardless of what their registration time slot says, they will still be guaranteed nine hours on the slope.
“We do limit our daily ticket sales so I would advise people that are planning to come up this weekend to go ahead and reserve tickets as we do expect to sell out at a comfortable capacity,” said Drew Stanley, the Marketing Director at Appalachian Ski Mtn. “To maximize everybody’s safety and enjoyment, we do require online reservations and a timeslot reservation system to get your ticket and ski rental. This cuts down on any time you need to spend in line or inside.”
Stanley says that Appalachian Ski Mtn. should have all of its trails open this weekend.
“It’s going to be as good of conditions as any holiday weekend can be. We are going to have 100 percent of our trails open with a very substantial base and great coverage everywhere. We’re excited to share conditions that are so good with the people coming up for the holiday.”
Thanks to the natural snowfall and the consistently cold temperatures, Appalachian Ski Mtn. has been able to make snow without having to do it with skiers and snowboarders on the mountain.
Sugar Mountain Resort has tremendous ski conditions as well with a 41-90 inch base with more snow coming this weekend.
“Conditions are outstanding, we have 18 trails open. By the weekend we will have more lifts open,” said Kim Jochl, Vice-President of Sugar Mountain Resort. “The weather has been incredible. We always look ahead with a 10-day forecast and it has been exciting to see temperatures remain in the snowmaking range.”
The natural snowfall has made conditions even better for those who want to be outside.
“When the snow falls, skiers love it. During this time of COVID, so many people want to get outdoors so it’s so exciting and relieving that we have these conditions for people. The more terrain that is open, the better experience everyone has,” Jochl said. “It hasn’t been frigid cold, so it has been almost the perfect winter so far with the snowfall and the range of the temperatures. We are all very fortunate that we have had such a terrific winter so we’re not crammed into a tight space.”
Sugar Mountain Resort offers in-person ticket sales, but they expect to sell out quickly after opening. Most area lodging is booked as well according to the Avery County Chamber of Commerce.
“Following N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s current restrictions, ski resorts and area attractions have limited capacity and most are selling tickets online. We want everyone to have a safe and wonderful, snowy mountain experience, so please book your lodging and attraction tickets in advance,” said Candice Cook, Executive Director of N.C. High Country Host Regional Visitor Center in Boone. “If you can, plan a trip to area ski resorts mid-week. The region will be less crowded and you will have more options and availability.”
Friday’s Slope Report
18 trails, 6 lifts, 41-90 inch base
Trails open include Whoopdedoo, Tom Terrific, Gunther’s Way, Northridge, Switchback, Upper Flying Mile, Sugar Slalom, Load Off, Zoom Yang, Big Birch, Oma’s Meadow, Lower Flying Mile, Easy Street, Easy Street Extension, Little Nell, Tiny Tim/Connection, Magic Carpet Area, Ski School Yard.
12 trails, 6 lifts, 50-90 inch base
Trails open include Appaltizer, Avery’s Appal, Candied Appal, Strudel, Orchard Run, Lower Big Appal, Upper Big Appal, Hard Core, Thin Slice, Appaljack, Appal Jam, AppalTop.
17 trails, 6 lifts, 38-62 inch base
Trails open include Meadows, Upper Shawneehaw, Lower Shawneehaw, Crossway, Upper Robbin’s Run, Lower Robbin’s Run, Upper Southern Star, Lower Southern Star, Crossover, Upper Powder Bowl, Lower Powder Bowl, Freestyle, Upper White Lightning, Lower White Lightning, Oz Run, Play Yard, The Park.
Pictures from Beech Mountain Resort from Thursday afternoon: