HIGH COUNTRY — Fans of snow sports can get ready to break out their wax, tune up their equipment and bundle up, because it’s time for ski resorts to open for the season.
Beech Mountain Resort, Appalachian Ski Mtn. and Sugar Mountain Resort have been preparing for the upcoming season for some time now, and they are all now eager to open their slopes to skiers, snowboarders and tubers. Each of the resorts have something for patrons to experience this season.
Additional tubing options at Hawksnest in Seven Devils and Jonas Ridge Snow Tubing will also soon be opening their businesses for powder-loving patrons within the coming days and weeks.
Beech Mountain Resort
Located at 1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain Resort opened for tubing on Saturday, Nov. 19. Skiing and snowboarding are set to open on Friday, Nov. 25. Beech offered an array of upgrades this season, including the replacement of Lift One with a new Doppelmayr Quad Chairlift equipped with a loading conveyor. This is the third quad lift installed at the resort in four years, said director of marketing Talia Freeman. They also introduced a new beginner trail named Carolina Caribbean, which is equipped with an enclosed carpet conveyor lift.
Those wanting to tube at Beech Mountain can now enjoy more consistent hours, Freeman said. In the past, tubing was open depending on the weather, as the previous snow machines only worked in specific conditions. This season, though, Beech Mountain Resort has a new all-weather snowmaking machine, which has an enclosed refrigerated system. With this, the outside weather has less impact on snowmaking, so the tubing season can be open longer and sessions can be pre-booked, Freeman said.
The resort introduced 10 new SMI automated fan guns this season, which is part of a multi-year project to upgrade the facility’s snowmaking system. With these additions, Beech Mountain Resort now has 93 fan guns.
This season, patrons will notice an enhanced terrain park in Powder Bowl, a beginner park in Meadows with new LED lights and upgrades to Lift Seven, which services West Bowl, which was previously named Oz Run.
Non-skiers can enjoy the fire pits and expanded outdoor seating at Beech Mountain Resort’s village.
Sugar Mountain Resort
Ski season at Sugar Mountain Resort came in the wake of Hurricane Nicole. After the hurricane passed through on Friday, Nov. 11, the weather took a drastic change and the High Country experienced its first snow of the season. On Monday, Nov. 14, Sugar Mountain Resort, which is located at 1009 Sugar Mountain Drive, announced that it had officially opened for the season.
The slopes and lifts and Sugar open throughout the season as weather permits, so as of Monday, Nov. 21, only four of the lifts and eight of the slopes are open. Currently, Summit Express, Easy Street, Big Birch and Magic Carpet lifts are open, and Northridge, Switchback, Upper Flying Mile, Big Birch, Lower Flying Mile, Easy Street, Tiny Tim/Connection and Magic Carpet Area slopes are open. The opening dates for tubing and ice skating at Sugar Mountain Resort have yet to be announced.
Sugar Mountain Resort introduced Oma’s Meadow chairlift, a high-speed, detachable, four passenger Doppelmayr lift, to its inventory this year. This new lift cuts travel time down from nine minutes to just over two minutes, according to a press release from Sugar Mountain Resort. Additionally, The Magic Carpet conveyor lift at the base of the resort has a clear, UV-resistant enclosure to shield patrons from the weather.
Sugar also introduced six new fully automated SMI snowmaking machines to its existing crew in an effort to continually invest in the resort’s snowmaking system, according to the press release. Finally, the lockers at the resort have been replaced with user-friendly electronic lockers that can aid in with directions and identification of slopes.
Appalachian Ski Mtn.
Opening day at Appalachian Ski Mtn. was Friday, Nov. 18. On opening day, the first 50 skiers or snowboarders on the lift received a free BlackStrap and Appalachian Ski Mtn. branded neck tube.
ASM requires online reservations for tickets and rentals. This season, the facility will be the first in North Carolina to implement a Radio Frequency Identification Ticketing system, designed to make the experience more convenient for patrons. The cards are reloadable and reusable, and patrons can use them to rent equipment as well. Additional days of skiing or rentals can be added to the cards online at any time.
Currently, ice skating is set to open at ASM on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Late-night skiing is available during Midnight Blast Weekends, which happen every Friday and Saturday throughout the season. Holiday Midnight Blast sessions are available December 26 to 31, as well as Martin Luther King Day Sunday and Presidents Day Sunday. Moonlight Skating Sessions take place on New Year’s Eve and the Saturday before Presidents Day.