Massanutten Resort

Terrain expansions and technology upgrades are routine at the seventeen ski resorts south of the Mason-Dixon Line. This year, that trend continues.

Here’s what’s new for the 2022/2023 season in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Virginia –

Massanutten – 2022-23 marks the 50th year of skiing inside the “Kettle” bowl of Shenandoah Valley landmark Massanutten Mountain. In 1990, the resort joined the regional “big list” jumping to its present 1,110 feet of vertical by opening two major slopes and a summit quad.

This year, Mueller’s Mile adds a third run from the summit, along with two other new slopes, a black connector to Muellers Mile called Slot, and Ridgecrest, a blue from the upper mountain along the craggy crest of the Kettle. The expansion finishes up next winter, replacing the old fixed quad with a detachable, and turning the lift line into the resort’s only double black diamond run.

The requisite snowmaking expansion started five years ago with a two and a half-mile pipeline tapping a new water supply, and finishes this year with 21,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe on the mountain. Director of Skiing Kenny Hess, says “this expansion will be a game changer for Massanutten, especially next year. With a double black lift line trail, Mass will ski much bigger than in the past.”

Bryce Resort, near Basye, Virginia, has converted its legacy double chair to a fixed grip quad. And Wintergreen Resort, near Charlottesville, makes a big snowmaking upgrade to its Upper Dobie and Lower Diamond beginner slopes and The Plunge snow tubing park.

West Virginia –

Timberline Mountain – After being closed for two pre-pandemic seasons, Timberline Mountain in Canaan Valley (pronounced kuh-NANE) was purchased in 2019 by Indiana’s Perfect North Slopes. The reinvention of a great southern ski area is picking up speed as COVID issues ebb.

The new owners have made “a complete do over on the snowmaking, quadrupling capacity,” says Paige Perfect. Two new lifts went in, West Virginia’s first six-pack detachable, to the summit, and a fixed grip quad to mid-station with a loading conveyor. New lighting to mid-station brings back night skiing this winter.

The summit, where two-mile Salamander starts, the South’s longest run, stays dark for now to protect the Cheat Mountain salamander. Flanking the alpine-like Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, the slope is the only one in the region on US Forest Service land. In fact, Perfect says, “we saw Salamander and knew Timberline was it.” The slope’s beginner pitch, few intersecting runs, and expansive width make it a regional favorite.

Snowshoe Mountain – Even with nearly 200 inches of annual southern snowfall covering its 1,500-foot vertical, this Alterra Mountain Company resort added 15 automatic fan guns on the revamped Skidder beginner slope beside the summit village, creating a longer, wider learning slope with consistent pitch. There’s also additional snowmaking at Progression Park and at the Silver Creek area, the ridge top run and adjacent easy routes get the same snow gun expansion as Skidder.

To reduce traffic on the Ballhooter lift, the usual route back up to the village from The Boat House eatery on a lake below, Skidder’s carpet lift has been realigned to access the village from the top of the Grabhammer lift.

Winterplace – The only southern ski area located five minutes from an interstate highway celebrates its 40th anniversary this season. The resort has redesigned its rental process and expects a 75% decrease in the time required to rent from a ski and snowboard inventory that this year is all new. There’s also a new Progression Terrain Park with a double chair located beside one of the area’s favorite easier slopes, Highland Run.

North Carolina –

Appalachian Ski Mountain – This area, in Blowing Rock, becomes the latest of the South’s slopes to embrace the RFID ticketing system based on an easy, radio verified lift ticket purchase that’s reloadable online.

Beech Mountain – In the northwestern High Country corner of the state near Boone, this is the East’s highest ski area at 5,506 feet, one of two major ski areas flanking Banner Elk (town license plates read “Ski Capital of the South”). This season, Beech’s far left legacy double chair has been upgraded to a fixed grip quad with a loading conveyor. he mountain’s former terrain park becomes a new beginner trail, Carolina Caribbean, named after the resort’s original development corporation back in the late ‘60s that paired the ski area with a resort in the US Virgin Islands. That new green gets an enclosed conveyor lift.

New terrain parks are being built, for advanced riders on the former Powder Bowl slope, and for beginners on the Meadows run, both with new LED lights and fixed SMI tower Polecats (among Beech’s ten new guns for this year). An interesting new Latitude L60 All Weather Snowmaker is being installed in the tubing area.

On the “back side” of the mountain, the Oz slope’s new name is West Bowl, and its Lift 7 has gotten an electrical upgrade.

Sugar Mountain – The other ski area near Banner Elk, Sugar Mountain adds its second new high speed detachable quad chairlift in three years, on intermediate cruiser Oma’s Meadow. The first opened on the Easy Street beginner run in 2019, and a new fixed grip quad went in on intermediate Big Birch in 2021.  There’s also a six-person Summit Express servicing the rousing Gunthers Way advanced run.

With all the new high-speed lifts since 2014, and lift configurations since the mountain has literally reinvented its slope system, dramatically improving the ski experience at one of the region’s top ski areas. Snowmaking improvements will help cover the expanded base of the Oma’s slope and on adjacent upper mountain runs from the mile-high summit. The resort’s conveyor lift gets an enclosure to shelter skiers and new electronic lockers make ski storage easier in the lodge.

Cataloochee – The snowmaking system has been fully automated at North Carolinas first ski area (1961) and an additional twenty-seven guns added. The lodge has a new menu with gluten free and vegetarian options, along with authentic, on-site smoked North Carolina pulled pork barbecue. Hand-crafted ski racks have been installed on many walls and railings.

 Tennessee –

Ober Gatlinburg – The state’s oldest (1962) and only ski area has changed hands, with original owners the Anders family selling to local investors led by Joe and Jessi Baker, founders of Ole Smoky Distillery and Yee-Haw Brewing. The name means “over Gatlinburg” in German, and Eastern America’s largest tram lifts skiers to the slopes from the streets of the Great Smoky Mountain tourist town. The area’s new name will be Ober Mountain.

4 Comments

  1. Any news about Wisp in NW Maryland ?

    • Hi Steve, thanks for asking. I didn’t receive Wisp’s input until after I posted, and I’m still working out some bugs in my ability to reply to reader comments.

      Wisp reports that they’ve added 18 new snow guns on the Central Park Terrain Park just above the base lodge (which gets a new music system in the McHenry Room), and another seventeen low energy stick guns on the long green run Possum. Wisp also debuts a new PistenBully 400 Park Pro groomer, and a new race training center for the Deep Creek Winter Sports Team. There will also be a new web cam coming online aiming at the Mountain Park snow tubing facility.

      Looks like some nice improvements at Southeastern slopes this ski season, which, just got started at Sugar Mountain, NC this morning with skiing to the top on six trails and two of the resort’s high speed lifts in operation. A little natural and what looks like an upcoming week of good snowmaking temps bodes well for the upcoming weekend. Randy (via webmaster)

  2. I nice to see skiing other parts of the country getting some attention. Thanks

  3. Cyndy Gal Scholz says:

    So wonderful to read about the ski areas of my youth staying strong and vibrant.

    I started my ski instruction career at Massanutten in 1981 while I was an undergraduate student at James Madison University (JMU). Great memories and still have friends from Massanutten.

    Still teaching 41 years later at Copper Mountain with the Over the Hill gang!

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