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Mid-Atlantic/SE skiing (PA, NJ, DC, MD, VA, WV, NC) for 2019-20

Hi Marz! Do you know if you can go direct to lift with the Ikon at Snowshoe?
Pretty sure the answer is "yes." Snowshoe was part of Intrawest, which is fully owned by Alterra. Since this is the second season for Ikon, I see no reason it wouldn't be direct-to-lift. The only talk I remember about having to get a day ticket with Ikon was for people who bought Ikon in the spring for 2019-20 and then used it for spring skiing at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Are you going soon?
 

Tennessee

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Pretty sure the answer is "yes." Snowshoe was part of Intrawest, which is fully owned by Alterra. Since this is the second season for Ikon, I see no reason it wouldn't be direct-to-lift. The only talk I remember about having to get a day ticket with Ikon was for people who bought Ikon in the spring for 2019-20 and then used it for spring skiing at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Are you going soon?
Yes! I’ll be there on Wednesday and Thursday of next week ✅. See my post in “meet on the hill” about it. Join me!
 
Yes! I’ll be there on Wednesday and Thursday of next week ✅. See my post in “meet on the hill” about it. Join me!
Sorry, having been to Snowshoe a couple times, it's not high on my list for a driving trip. It's a good 6-7 hours from Raleigh. Since I fly out west for trips that last 2-3 weeks a couple times a season, it's not really worth the effort. My southeast skiing will be in the NC and VA mountains this winter. With perhaps a day trip to Canaan Valley from Massanutten because it's on the Indy Pass.

So far, I've checked out Bryce and Cataloochee using Indy. Cat was a lot more mountain than I expected. I'll go back sooner rather than later because I have a reason to be in Asheville.
 

Tennessee

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Sorry to hear that. Snowshoe is the only ski area in the SE that feels like a real ski resort to me. I love Cupp Run and Shays. That said, Cat can be fun. Nice vibe there.
 

Tennessee

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Oh I almost forgot! I was at Cat for a clinic last year during Diego. Got to ski the meadow (which is usually not open) with about a foot of new snow. Not exactly powder, lol, but fun. Memorable time!
 
Sorry to hear that. Snowshoe is the only ski area in the SE that feels like a real ski resort to me. I love Cupp Run and Shays. That said, Cat can be fun. Nice vibe there.
I agree that Snowshoe is the only place that could be called a "destination resort" for someone interested in skiing longer black trails. But the extra hours driving from Raleigh, including at least 2 hours on 2-lane road in WV, just isn't worth the effort for me. I have a friend who will make the trek in early Jan with his high school daughter though.

My home mountain became Massanutten over 10 years ago. Once my daughter could ski the black trails there (age 6), we explored ski areas within driving distance. After checking out Beech, Sugar, Winterplace, Snowshoe, and Wintergreen, I decided Mnut made the most sense. It's a 4-hour drive one-way, no concern about rush hour traffic around Winston-Salem/Greensboro, and don't need to worry about snow on the roads unless there is a blizzard in northern VA. Since we are timeshare owners, we got spoiled staying on resort for long weekends or the week before Christmas. The unusual feature at Mnut is that there is never a lift line the mid-mountain lift to the summit, even on holiday weekends. Also nice that all trails are lit. The bonus when we met up with friends of my daughter is that there is an indoor waterpark for some other fun after a day of skiing short slopes.
 
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Oh I almost forgot! I was at Cat for a clinic last year during Diego. Got to ski the meadow (which is usually not open) with about a foot of new snow. Not exactly powder, lol, but fun. Memorable time!
Always fun to catch a big storm in the southeast. I've done it a few times at Mnut. The first time was in Feb 2010. Only time I bothered to drive our 4WD pickup. There was 8 inches overnight on top of the daytime snowfall. Not many people made to the resort that weekend.

Feb. 6, 2010, 8:30am, from a Summit unit
Mnut Feb 2010 - 1.jpg

Now that I've met and skied with @SarahXC, would love to get to Cat on a day when the Meadow is open. Wouldn't want to attempt to drive my minivan up the access road and down the dirt road. But would happily ride with her. Her family has season passes at Cat.
 
Wisp has one chairlift running weekdays now. This is the first winter season for the new GM, Ron Hawkes. But he's no stranger to the effort it takes to get open in the mid-Atlantic. Hawkes was the GM at Round Top 2005-2016. He started out as a ski instructor and ran the ski school at Whitetail and Mt. Snow before moving to Hunter, where he spent 10 years as Director of Skiing and Snowboarding. After Round Top, he was working at Montage, and then Camelback. Wisp is a 4-season resort that is operated by Pacific Group Resorts. They needed a new GM because Jerry Geisler retired in 2019 after 45 years working at Wisp.

What's new at Wisp for 2019-20 is RFID and snowmaking improvements. They are using Axess RFID with gates. Wintergreen installed RFID too. It's also operated by Pacific Group.

Nov. 23, 2019, Lake Front Magazine (local county magazine)
Skier’s Notebook: A Conversation with Wisp Resort GM Ron Hawkes
" . . .
Ron explains, “All Wisp Resort tickets and season passes now contain new Radio Frequency ID. They look like a credit card, and contain a chip that allows them to communicate with antennae at the seven chair lifts so that once they have been purchased (which can be done online or at the Resort) skiers and snowboarders can go straight to the lift — no more waiting in line to buy your tickets or fumbling with zippers and pockets.”


You can reload your card after your first visit for the season online or even from your phone as you’re driving to the resort. The best part is if you purchase a four or eight hour flex ticket, your time doesn’t start until you go through your first chair lift gate so guests can enjoy a leisurely breakfast or lunch before their first run and not miss any time on the mountain. As Ron explains it’s all about “enhanced guest experiences”. The other big improvement for the 2019 – 2020 ski season is the addition of new, high tech snowmaking guns.

“The new guns will be positioned along Squirrel Cage and are tower mounted,” says Ron. Using radio frequency, the guns can ‘talk’ to each other and to the main panel in the control office. They can be adjusted without physically walking to them and allow for variables like wind and temperature. They even have their own weather station.”
. . ."
 
Anyone interested in skiing in the southeast would probably enjoy the new version of Southern Snow by Randy Johnson. He wrote the first edition back in the 1980s. Needless to say, things have changed in the last three decades. There has been lift served skiing in the southeast based on snowmaking since the 1960s.

The South’s “Cult Classic” Ski Book Southern Snow is All New for 2019 from the University of NC Press
" . . .
It includes all the South’s ski and snowboard resorts and cross country ski centers, as well as the snowiest high elevation trails for cross country skiing, winter hiking, and mountaineering.

Johnson offers a longtime local’s insider advice on when and how to plan a southern ski trip, why and where to take professional lessons.

Introductory chapters explain the surprising “Climate of the Southern Snowbelt,” the inspiring people behind “The History of Southern Skiing,” and more, including how to drive in the snow and what kinds of cars to do it with.
. . ."
 
Whitetail is opening up on Friday, Dec. 20.

Whitetail's GM was moved over from Liberty in November. That's when the Whitetail GM moved over to Roundtop, after only taking over a few months earlier from the long time GM who retired in the spring. The GM duties for Liberty are being handled by a long time VR leader, who is also in charge of the Mid-Atlantic region for VR.
 
Liberty announced today that they will open on Saturday.

In general, pretty limited terrain in the mid-Atlantic, but that's not that unusual. At least there will be blue and green trails during the holidays, with a few blacks at Snowshoe. Way better than the situation just a week ago before the cold front pushed through.
 
Someone has come up with an "interactive" trail map for Snowshoe that highlights open trails. Until Snowshoe is 100% open, it's looks useful. The new Niehues map that combines Silver Creek with the Basin is pretty cool. Although it makes the Silver Creek trails look somewhat longer than they are, at least in relation to the Basin trails. But always tricky with multiple peaks.

https://skisnowshoe.neocities.org/map.html

Example from Dec. 19 with a few greens and blues open
Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 5.11.55 PM.jpg
 
I did an impromptu trip to Bryce. The fridge is empty and I needed groceries. The leaves in the yard needed raking. So naturally I decided to go skiing to the nearest open hill. First time to Bryce and the smallest resort I’ve ever been. The condition wasn’t that great. It was frozen whales with a light dusting on top. I scraped all the way down. Tried to edge harder and bite into something but mostly unsuccessful. I hope Whitetail tomorrow and Liberty on Saturday aren’t that kind of snow.
 
Went to opening day at Whitetail. Conditions were noticeably better than Bryce. Probably due to all the snow being newly blown this week so none of it went through too many thaw and freeze cycles. Still got a patch of glare ice near the top of Sidewinder though. I think I figured out why the Whitetail blues intimidate me. It’s not their perceived steepness. It’s the possibility of icy conditions that scares me. How I am spoiled by the soft snow in Colorado.

Whitetail is not using RFID yet. They are still using barcode scanners at the lifts. They had to punch a hole in my Epic pass and gave me a lanyard.
 
Were there many indications that Whitetail is now part of Vail Resorts? Other than folks using Epic passes instead of Peak passes.
Not really. Peak passes are still there though. I’m sure not everyone upgraded from Peak to Epic. There was a small tent that says “Epic Pass Starts Here” and they were checking Epic passes to make sure they scan correctly. Apparently I was the first one there with an old Epic pass (Epic doesn’t issue new passes every year). I had to take it out of my sleeve pocket for them to scan the barcode. I told them that’s not going to work at the lifts for me. They gave me a lanyard and I held up my card and showed them there isn’t a hole. They didn’t know what to do and together we walked to guest services. Fortunately, guest services had the template to punch a hole in the pass. With most everyone wearing a lanyard, it wasn’t obvious who’s got Peak or Epic. I’m curious to see if Liberty is the same way.
 
Apparently there will be two Demo Days at Liberty.

Liberty: Friday Jan 3, 2020, Never Summer Demo Day

Liberty: Sunday Feb 9, 2020, Gilson Demo Day
 
Massanutten will have demos by two companies this season. Never Summer Snowboards will be around in addition to Freestyle of Charlottesville. The weekend of March 7-8 is during the Massanutten Snow Moon Fest.

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