Section 18: Southern U.S. Skiing rev 11/16/94
This section is provided courtesy of David J. Marks.
To the best of my knowledge this FAQ is valid as of 01/14/94
No warranty is expressed or implied by the posting or mere existence of
this FAQ. The author of this FAQ does not guarantee the accuracy of any
data contained herein. this FAQ is for informational purposes only.
For more accurate and timely information, contact the ski resorts you
are interested in.
This FAQ is Copyright (C) 1994 by David J. Marks. All Rights are reserved.
Permission to use, copy and distribute this FAQ, or parts thereof,
by any means and for any purpose EXCEPT PROFIT PURPOSES is hereby
granted, provided that both the above Copyright notice and this
permission notice appear in all copies of the FAQ itself.
Reproducing this FAQ or parts thereof by any means, included, but
not limited to, printing, copying existing prints, publishing by
electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above
non-profit-use clause, unless upon explicit prior written permission
of the author.
Mitake A. Holliman, Ray Porter: email@example.com, Curtis Emerson
Snowshoe bought Silver Creek (both in Eastern WV) for the 1994 season. The
same lift ticket is good at both resorts, but you can't ski between them:
they are about a mile apart.
Ski Hawksnest, NC is agin open this year. It was closed last year due to
a dispute with the neighboring golf course over the sewer system.
Mill Ridge, NC is not operating this year due to previous bad seasons.
Hounds Ears, NC is not operating this year.
The weather this year has been frigid and snowy!! Snowshoe has gotten gobs
of snow and the temperatures in the NC high country have been around 0F
much of this season. On Thurs., Jan 30th the temperature on the top of
Beech, MT., was 0F with a 40MPH wind: -40F wind chill!!
-3. New since the last posting
-1. Table of Contents
0. Why an FAQ on Southern U.S. Skiing?
1. I didn't know there was skiing in the U.S. south.
2. Aren't the winters too mild for skiing?
3. How can you ski at a place that gets less than 50" of snow
4. What types of runs are available?
5. What types of snow conditions can be expected?
6. I've heard that the lift lines can be very long.
7. Where can I snowboard?
8. What kind of skis do I need?
9. What kind of clothing do I need?
10. When is the southern U.S. ski season?
11. What does it cost?
12. Can I participate in racing at a southern ski resort?
13. I'd like to take my family skiing, but some don't ski. Is there
anything for the non-skier to do?
14. What sorts of evening activities are there at the southern U.S. ski
15. Can I go to a southern U.S. college and still ski a lot?
16. Where ARE the southern U.S. ski resorts?
17. What are the phone numbers for southern U.S. ski resorts?
18. I will be moving to the south near skiing, can I be a ski patroller
in my spare time?
19. Where can I get more information?
20. Who wrote this FAQ and how does he know so much?
21. How can I disagree with or add to this FAQ?
This FAQ was prompted by a discussion in rec.skiing that flamed
southern U.S. skiing. This FAQ is here to set the record straight.
Southern U.S. skiing is not as good as western U.S. or European
skiing. However, most of us cannot afford a western U.S. or European ski
vacation regularly. Additionally, we need someplace to stay in shape and
to practice for when we do go out west or to Europe. Southern U.S.
Skiing is as good as any comparably sized place in New England (such as
Mt. Abrams, ME; or Gunstock, NH).
There is a wide variety of skiing in the U.S. south. Ski resorts are
located in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia,
and Alabama, in the southern Appalachians.
Not at all; they are variable, and the conditions could differ
drastically from year to year. The further north you go (VA and WV)
the more reliable the weather, and the further south you go (AL, GA,
and TN) the less reliable the weather. Temperatures vary from -12F to
+60F. Average yearly snowfalls vary from 12" at Cloudmont, AL, to
over 200" at Snowshoe, WV, with 50"-100" being average.
Typical conditions are 20F to 40F with 20" to 30" of snow on the ground.
It is often the case that it will be 55F and no snow in Charlotte while
Sugar & Beech will be 30F and have 30" of snow. Unless you live next to
a ski resort, your local conditions are no indicator of the conditions
at the ski resorts.
Most of the ski resorts are at the top of the highest mountains east of
the Mississippi. Snowshoe is above 4000 Ft., Beech and Sugar are above
Most southern U.S. resorts have 100% snowmaking, and as long as the
temperatures fall below 32F several hours everyday, then there will be
plenty of snow.
Most southern U.S. resorts are small. Most runs are shorter than 1/2
mile. There are some longer, such as Cup Run at Snowshoe (1 1/2 miles),
Shawneehaw at Ski Beech (1 mile), Flying Mile at Sugar (1 mile), but
Most runs are beginner or intermediate. The larger resorts have some
advanced runs, but these would be intermediate out west. Winterplace
has one run designated double black (super expert).
In the 1978 edition of the BOOK OF LISTS, Jean Claude Killy ranked
Cup Run, Snowshoe, WV as his 10th favorite run worldwide.
Bowl skiing does not exist in the U.S. south; most runs are wooded.
Mogul runs are usually only there because they were made that way by
large numbers of skiers, or because the run wasn't groomed for several
days due to warm weather.
Many runs, even at the highest elevations, are near condominiums and
are ski in - ski out.
All kinds. As a consequence, it is said that the southern U.S. skier is
the most versatile.
You can expect packed powder with some ice patches as the typical
When the weather is warm there may be mashed potatoes or really thick
loose granular (like rock salt).
Powder (as in Utah) is very rare and there may be several years when
there is none.
You've heard correctly; however, this is only a problem on weekends and
holidays. On weekdays and nights there could be less than 100 skiers on
the slopes; you might even be the only one.
The most crowded periods are the week between Christmas and New Years,
Martin Luther King's Birthday weekend, and Presidents' Day weekend.
More and more southern resorts are allowing snowboarding. Contact your
resort destination for more details.
Ski Beech built a half-pipe in the Meadows (permanent part of the hill)
Since most U.S. southern resorts are small, slalom, giant slalom or
recreational skis are best. Downhill, extreme, and mogul skis are not
really suitable. You must be willing to endure scratches on your skis
to ski the U.S. south. Snow cover is thinner than up north or out west
and more rocks will show through. During crowded days you may get other
skiers cutting across your tips or stepping on them in line. Make sure
you have good edges for the ice patches.
If you ski less than 10 days per year, it may be more cost effective to
rent than to own. However, renting at the resorts may be a bad idea on
crowded days. Many ski shops away from the resorts will rent for one
day's price if the skis are returned by noon the next day.
First and foremost, warm, waterproof gloves. You need these for the
cold and wet. Next, pack clothes for all weather conditions: light
waterproof pants and jacket, heavy insulated pants and jacket. Bring
extra socks and insulated underwear. It is better to bring too much
and not use it than not to bring enough and need it. Since conditions
are so variable, and you can't really know in advance, you need to
be prepared for a frigid blizzard, a warm rain, a cold rain, warm sun,
cold sun, etc. Don't ski in jeans unless you don't fall very often.
Even then, jeans are no fun in the rain. Waterproof clothes are the
Bring plenty of sunscreen for sunny days. Southern U.S. winters have
more direct sunlight, than northern ones.
Bring goggles in case the snow makers are running (you may have to ski
through artificial snow showers). Bring sunglasses for the brilliant
It varies. The larger resorts ski from Thanksgiving to March 15th
depending on the weather. Snowshoe can ski as late as April 15th.
Cloudmont, AL usually only has a 6-8 week season during December,
January and February.
Southern U.S. skiing is expensive.
Weekend day tickets at the larger resorts cost between $30 & $40. Weekday
tickets cost between $20 & $30. Night tickets are usually around $15.
There is a 20%-25% discount for groups of 15 or more at many resorts.
Some places have half day and twilight (afternoon + night) tickets.
Ski Hawksnest has a Saturday night session between Midnight and 4am that
costs the same as a regular night session.
Group lessons tend to cost around $10 to $15 per hour.
Ski rentals cost around $10 to $15 per day.
Some of the larger resorts have an all day program for kids between 4
and 10 years of age (called SKIWEE at SKI BEECH) that provides all day
instruction and lunch for about $40 per child. This allows the adults
to be without their kids for a day - sort of ski day care.
Prices may be less at the small resorts.
Yes! Most southern resorts have NASTAR (recreational racing) races on
the weekend open to anybody. Many resorts have programs through the USSA
(US SKI ASSOCIATION), and many are the training grounds for colleges such
as Appalachian State, Lees-McCrea, and James Madison University.
Additionally some habe junior race programs through the ski school.
Pro-Am racing (the kind you see on ESPN with the jump in the middle of the
course) now has a circuit among the southern resorts. Of course, this is
the minor leagues compared to what you see on TV.
Contact the ski schools or the resort administrations for further details.
For the most part, no. Most of the southern U.S. ski resorts are small
and cannot afford non-skiing amenities. Most of the nearby towns are small
also. This is especially true of Snowshoe, where the nearest town of more
than 10,000 is more than 30 miles away.
Gatlinburg is an exception. Outlet shopping heaven is right below the
resort on a 10 mile stretch of the road to Knoxville. Also nearby is
Dollywood (Dolly Parton's amusement park) which is open during Christmas.
Gatlinburg and Cataloochee are on either side of the Smoky Mts. National
Park, so there is sightseeing there.
Some of the larger resorts have day care for kids too small to ski.
If your non-skiing partners or family members are willing to drive, they
can go to Knoxville (from Gatlinburg), or Johnson City (from the NC
resorts) which are usually less than an hour away.
Ski Beech has an ice skating rink.
At the larger resorts in WV and in the towns near the VA and NC resorts,
there are many restaurants and night spots. Most of the music is
bluegrass, country, or folk (this is the southern Appalachian mts. after
all), but there ARE rock bands. You can also go to Charlottesville from
Wintergreen (a major university town) or to Knoxville (pop. 200,000)
Snowshoe has a comedy club.
Several southern U.S. resorts are located in dry counties where liquor
by the drink sales are prohibited. If you wish to drink with your meal
anyway, check ahead: brown bagging may or may not be permitted.
Yes! Appalachian State University in Boone, NC and Lees-McCrae
College in Banner Elk, NC both take skiers into account in their
curriculum and give special lift ticket discounts. Appalachian owns
Appalachian Ski Resort, and Lees-McCrae is less than five miles from Ski
Beech or Sugar. Both schools also have competitive ski teams.
Other schools (not an exaustive list) that are within 50 miles of a ski
This list is from the WHITE BOOK OF SKI AREAS
- East Tennesse State University - Johnson City, TN
- near Ski Beech, Sugar Mt., Mill Ridge, Ski Hawksnest, Hounds Ears, and Wolf
- Milligan College - Milligan, TN
- near Ski Beech, Sugar Mt., Mill Ridge, Ski Hawksnest, Hounds Ears, and Wolf
- University of Tennessee - Knoxville, TN
- near Ober Gatlinburg
- University of Virginia - Charlottesville, VA
- near Wintergreen
- Virginia Military Institute - Lexington, VA
- near Homestead and Wintergreen
- Washington & Lee University - Lexington, VA
- near Homestead and Wintergreen
- James Madison University - Harrisonburg, VA
- near Massanutten
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute - Blacksburg, VA
- near Winter Place
- Liberty University - Lynchburg, Va
- near Wintergreen
- University of NC, Asheville - Asheville, NC
- near Cataloochee and Wolf Laurel
- Western Carolina University - Cullowee, NC
- near Cataloochee, Fairfield Saphire Valley, Scaly Mt., and Sky Valley
- Furman University - Greenville, SC
- Near Fairfield Saphire Valley
This list was taken from the main rec.skiing FAQ
- Virginia -
- Bryce - 500 Ft. vertical, W of I-81 between Harrisonburg
and Front Royal (NW VA)
- Homestead - 700 Ft. vertical, Nw of Lexington (western VA)
- Massanutten - 1110 Ft. vertical, near Harrisonburg (NW VA)
- Wintergreen - 1003 Ft. vertical, W of Charlottesville (western VA)
- West Virginia -
- Cannaan Valley - 850 Ft. vertical, northeastern WV
- Alpine Lake - 400 Ft. vertical, East of Morgantown (north WV)
- Timberline - 1084 Ft, vertical, near Canaan Valley
- Snowshoe/Silver Creek - 1500 Ft. vertical, in southeastern WV
- Winter Place - 600 Ft. vertical, near Beckley, WV
- North Carolina -
- Appalachian - 400 Ft. vertical, near Boone (NW NC)
- Cataloochee - 740 Ft. vertical, between Asheville and Smoky Mts.
National park (Western NC) Fairfield
- Sapphire Val. - 425 Ft, vertical, southwest of Asheville (SW NC)
- Ski Beech - 830 Ft. vertical, near Banner Elk (NW NC)
- Hound Ears - 107 Ft. vertical, Between Banner Elk and Boone
- Mill Ridge - 225 Ft. vertical, Between Banner Elk and Boone
- Scaly Mt. - 225 Ft. vertical, near Dillard, GA (SW NC)
- Ski Hawksnest - 619 Ft. vertical, Between Banner Elk and Boone
- Wolf Laurel - 700 Ft. vertical (expanding to 1200 Ft.), north of Asheville (NW NC)
- Sugar Mt. - 1200 Ft. vertical, near Banner Elk
- Georgia -
- Sky Valley - 250 Ft. vertical, near Dillard (NE GA)
- Tennessee -
- Ober Gatliburg - 600 Ft. vertical, near Gatlinburg, east of
Knoxville (eastern TN)
- Alabama -
- Cloudmont - 150 Ft. vertical, east of Huntsville, SW of
Chattanooga, TN (NE AL)
N.C. High Country Host 800-438-7500 accomodations & restaurants
Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce 704-733-4737
Boone Chamber of Commerce 704-264-2225
State-wide report 800-438-7500
Sugar Mountain 704-898-4521
- snow report 704-898-5256
Ski Beech 800-438-2093 (includes snow report)
Appalachian - reservations 800-322-2373
- snow report 704-295-7828
Ski Mill Ridge - groups 800-253-5808
- snow report 704-963-4500
State-wide report 800-225-5982
Silver Creek 800-523-6329
Snowshoe - information 304-572-1000
- reservations 304-572-5252
- snow report 304-572-4636
Winter Place 304-787-3221
Yes! Many smaller resorts have a hard time keeping patrollers. If you
will be living close enough to be able to ski between 15 and 20 sessions,
contact the patrol director at your chosen resort, to see if he has
openings. The Southern Division of the National Ski Patrol depends on
volunteers for over 75% of their membership.
You will need to be a strong paralell skier that can agressively ski all
the runs at the resort where you plan to patrol. You will need an active
certification from the American Red Cross or the American Heart
Association in one person and two person CPR. You will also need a
certification from the National Ski Patrol in Winter Emergency Care (WEC).
Ask the local patrol director for the date of the next WEC class. You don't
have to be a patroller to take the WEC class.
If you qualify, you will be accepted as a Candidate (a provisional member).
After one to two seasons of training, and after you pass your on the hill
skills test, you will be advanced to Basic Patroller and be a full fledged
member. Candidates are not allowed to ski a loaded sled (loaded with an
accident victim) from an accident to the first aid room until they advance
to Basic Patroller status.
The Basic on the hill skills test consists of free skiing, controlled
skiing, a snowplow and side slip course through gates, skiing an empty
toboggan (rescue sled) to an accident, and skiing a loaded toboggan from
an accident to the first aid room.
THE WHITE BOOK OF SKI AREAS published by Inter-Ski Services, Inc.,
P.O. Box 3635, Georgetown Station, Washington, DC 20007. This book cannot
be obtained from a bookstore (it does not appear in BOOKS IN PRINT). You
must get a copy from a ski store or from Inter-Ski Services. This book
is the bible of the ski industry.
THE NATIONAL SKI PATROL, Samaritans of the Snow, by Gretchen R. Besser,
The Countryman Press, Woodstock, VT; ISBN 0-88150-030-5.
MID-ATLANTIC WINTER SPORTS GUIDE, Phillips 1997 ISBN 1-882997-08-5
SOUTHERN SNOW: WINTER GUIDE TO DIXIE, Johnson 1987 ISBN 0-910146-62-4
Call the ski resorts and ask them.
Consult your nearest ski store. Every big city has one. Many small ones
The author is David J. Marks residing in Johnson City, TN. He is a
volunteer member of the Beech Mt. Ski Patrol at Ski Beech, NC. He has
skied many of the NC, and WV resorts over the last 15 years.
If you have any disagreements with this FAQ, or additions to this FAQ,
contact Dave Marks via the email addresses below. Please don't clog this
newsgroup with flames about the quality of southern U.S. skiing.
David J. Marks | UUCP: ...!uunet!tijc02!djm408
Siemens Industrial Automation, Inc. | Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Drawer 1255 | Phone: 615-461-2074
Johnson City, TN 37605-1255 |