Section 18: Southern U.S. Skiing rev 11/16/94

This section is provided courtesy of David J. Marks.

18.-5. Administrivia

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.

18.-4. Copyright

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.

18.-3. Contributors

Mitake A. Holliman, Ray Porter:, Curtis Emerson

18.-2. New Since the last posting

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!!

18.-1. Table of contents

-5. Administrivia
-4. Copyright
-3. New since the last posting
-2. Contributors
-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 annually?
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?

18.0. Why an FAQ on Southern U.S. Skiing?

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).

18.1. I didn't know there was skiing in the U.S. south.

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.

18.2. Aren't the winters too mild for skiing?

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 5000 Ft.

18.3. How can you ski at a place that gets less than 50" of snow annually?

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.

18.4. What types of runs are available?

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 not many.

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.

18.5. What types of snow conditions can be expected?

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 conditions.

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.

18.6. I've heard that the lift lines can be very long.

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.

18.7. Where can I snowboard?

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) this year.

18.8. What kind of skis do I need?

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.

18.9. What kind of clothing do I need?

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 best bet.

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 southern sun.

18.10. When is the southern U.S. ski season?

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.

18.11. What does it cost?

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.

18.12. Can I participate in racing at a southern ski resort?

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.

18.13. I'd like to take my family skiing, but some don't ski. Is there anything for the non-skier to do?

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.

18.14. What sorts of evening activities are there at the southern U.S. ski resorts?

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) from Gatlinburg.

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.

18.15. Can I go to a southern U.S. college and still ski a lot?

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 resort:

East Tennesse State University - Johnson City, TN
near Ski Beech, Sugar Mt., Mill Ridge, Ski Hawksnest, Hounds Ears, and Wolf Laurel.
Milligan College - Milligan, TN
near Ski Beech, Sugar Mt., Mill Ridge, Ski Hawksnest, Hounds Ears, and Wolf Laurel.
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

18.16. Where ARE the southern U.S. ski resorts?

This list is from the WHITE BOOK OF SKI AREAS

18.17. What are the phone numbers for southern U.S. ski resorts?

This list was taken from the main rec.skiing FAQ

      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


      Bryce                                    703-856-2151
      Homestead                                703-839-7721
      Massanutten                              703-289-9441
      Wintergreen                              804-325-2100

      State-wide report                       800-225-5982
      Canaan                                  800-225-5992
      Silver Creek                            800-523-6329
      Snowshoe - information                  304-572-1000
               - reservations                 304-572-5252
               - snow report                  304-572-4636
      Timberline                              304-866-4828
      Winter Place                            304-787-3221

18.18. I will be moving to the south near skiing, can I be a ski patroller in my spare time?

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.

18.19. Where can I get more information?

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


Call the ski resorts and ask them.

Consult your nearest ski store. Every big city has one. Many small ones do too.

18.20. Who wrote this FAQ and how does he know so much?

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.

18.21. How can I disagree with or add to this FAQ?

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:
P.O. Drawer 1255                     |    Phone:               615-461-2074
Johnson City, TN 37605-1255          |