By Paul T. Choate
Oct. 31, 2012. Sugar Mountain Ski Resort opened today Wednesday, October 31 — Halloween — for day skiing and snowboarding. In its 43-year history, Sugar Mountain Resort’s earliest opening was on Nov. 5 in 1976. Early risers Jamie Borden, Rosie Hewitt and Ashlet Cutrell, members of the Appalachian State University Alpine Ski Club, were at the mountain at 8 a.m. to be a part of history with the early opening.
“There are a lot of people here – a good crowd of people – and there are still people coming in to make history and ski in North Carolina on the 31st of October, Halloween! So they’re on the way here,” said Sugar Mountain Owner Gunther Jochl.
In a press release yesterday, the resort called such an early open “unprecedented!” In the past 24 hours, nine inches of natural snow have fallen at the mountain, according to their website. In addition to that, Sugar Mountain has been making snow since Sunday evening. The snow depth is currently anywhere from six to 30 inches around the mountain consisting of natural and manmade packed powder.
Additionally, Sugar Mountain Resort purchased and is using nine brand new fully automated snowmaking machines which better allow them to keep the slopes white and powdery. Gunther Jochl said the machines are working well and that he was very pleased with them.
“This will be the first time in Sugar’s history that we’ve made snow in October and, for sure, the earliest we’ve opened,” said Kim Jochl with Sugar Mountain Resort prior to the opening. Sugar Mountain was even featured in the national press recently, including an article on the Huffington Post that mentioned their early opening.
“It’s great that the media is writing so much about this,” Gunther Jochl said. “We’ve been on national media – NPR, AP – it’s been unbelievable the coverage we’ve had. That makes it even worth more to do this.”
Sugar Mountain is, in fact, not the only North Carolina slopes opening up on Halloween. Catalooche Ski Area in Maggie Valley also opened for business this morning, making it only the second time in their history they have been able to open on Oct. 31. The two ski areas join only a handful around the country that have been able to open during October. Some others include Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin, which opened for the winter season on Oct. 17, as the first ski area in the Western U.S. to open; Minnesota’s Wild Mountain, opened Oct. 7; Colorado’s Loveland Ski Area, opened Oct. 23; and California’s Tahoe Boreal, opened Oct. 26; to name a few.
Gunther Jochl said Sugar Mountain grounds crews have been and are continuing to work grooming the snow and making sure it is in top condition for skiers and snowboarders.
“Everything’s good. We’re ready and we’re doing the right stuff,” he said.
Temperatures are optimal at present, at 28.1 degrees at the base and 26.7 degrees at the summit. The slopes will be open until 4:30 p.m. today. Those who wear a Halloween costume today receive a free hot chocolate or coffee. Costumes are required to be weather appropriate and family friendly and you must have a valid lift/slope pass to qualify.
For more information, visit skisugar.com.
Photos by Ken Ketchie
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