Snowboarding in the Southeast
For those of us who aren’t familiar with the sound of snow in the south and don’t know the ski and snowboard culture, this blog is going to give you all the “need to know” information about your first ski trip in the south.
It may be a surprise to many people about skiing in the southeast. However, there is a large ski and snowboard culture that has thousands of people flocking to the mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina.
The community is filled with people of all skill levels from expert skiers, who live in the south and use the mountains as a well to stay fresh on the board for their vacations to Colorado, Alaska, or even the Swiss Alps and first time snowboarders who haven’t been on snow in their entire life.
The ski/snowboarding community is very large and due to a limited number of ski resorts you can expect tons of people at the resorts during the weekend (first tip: try to plan your trip on a week day if possible!)
Planning your trip to the Ski Resort
A southerner would know that weather in the southeast is crazy. Some days in January, it could be 10 degrees and the next be 65 and sadly this isn’t an exaggeration. A parallel to snowboarding and skiing in the southeast is like big wave surfing. To catch a perfect weekend of snowboarding, you need to be very flexible and try to find cold weather patterns. This is almost impossible to predict; however, not being aware of the weather before arriving at the ski resort could leave you very disappointed. If possible, I would plan your ski trip a week or less out to truly have a good idea of what the current conditions are and whether it’s worth spending your money.
Snow conditions are an interesting topic. I went snowboarding twice and two back to back weeks and my experience was completely different each time. The first weekend, I went the temperate varied during the day from 29 degrees to 35 degrees so above and below freezing later. The conditions were horrendous. Only one blue trail was open and the snow was a glandular texture that looks like marble size balls of ice. This trail had snow blowing; however the snow underneath the new layer of “snow” was pure ice. This day was overall very sketchy and I saw 4 people get carted off the mountain that day and heard news from people on the lift that the day before was equally dangerous. A day like this was not too fun and mostly kept me frustrated not to mention the blowers on the lower part of the mountain were blowing almost pure water. The next weekend, I went back to a different ski resort in the same city and the conditions were firing off, the conditions were prime. The resort was dumped with 3 feet of powder in some spots. Plus, the snow quality being blown was as fine as saw dust and had a powder-like texture to it. I kept overhearing people on the lift saying how this reminded them of some of their best trips in Colorado. There were parts of the slope that I stood up in that were knee deep of powder. Overall, this was one of the best days of snowboarding I have ever had myself; however, it was absolutely freezing 3 degrees to 9 degrees was the variance on the hottest part of the day.
Needless to say snowboarding and skiing in the southeast is a gamble – sometimes it pays off other times it does not work out as planned.
Money and Rental Gear
After reading about the knee-deep conditions, you might be thinking you can’t wait to head to the slopes. You might also be wondering what are the costs to go and have an awesome day like this? Well, ski lift tickets generally run you around $75 dollars on holidays and weekends no matter how good or bad the conditions. You might be wondering if ski resorts will charge the same price for the terrible conditions, the answer is yes and it kind of sucks. However, these resorts need to pay the repair and maintenance on the lifts, electricity and in this case, the snow bill because of how much snow is needed to be blown in for the season.
I would budget some cash for your lunch and dinner if you plan on riding all day and night. The prices for the average cafeteria fast food style meals are very pricy and will make you feel robbed when you are finished. Sadly, this is just part of the experience.
So you have booked your trip and you have your budget saved for an awesome weekend on the mountain; however, you realize you don’t have skis, snowboards, helmets and boots. Well lucky for you, there are plenty of rentals on and off the mountain (non ski resort owned rental shops). These shops normally charge around $40 to $60 a day for all of your gear rentals.
The rentals are a decent price; however, be picky with your gear (on or off mountain rentals/ waxing)
What to wear?
To enjoy the snow and mountains, it is best to have the proper gear! There are plenty of expensive and inexpensive ski options. The essential gear required to go to the mountains are: ski jacket, ski pants, wool/synesthetic socks, beanie, helmet, goggles/sun glasses, gloves/mittens (an extra thin pair to go underneath is my tip to extra warm hands), and base layers.
A key tip is to dress in layers rather in bulky items. Try wearing base layers such as synthetic long underwear and shirt will make a difference.
**What not to do though is overdress which will lead to sweating. Sweating will cause you to become very cold. You will see an issue with this especially when you enter the lodge for the break. You will become drenched in sweat and freeze once you go back out to shred some powder.
What to bring?
Here are a few other items you might want to bring along on your trip:
Chap stick, sunscreen, extra cash, camelback, extra pair of clothes and socks, and foot/hand warmers
As elevation increases expect to see a difference in degree from the base to the summit. Most ski resorts in the southeast have about a 5-8 degree difference from base not including wind chill. Be prepared to dress for the summit conditions.
New to snow
If you are completely new to snow and have questions or a slight worry about your first time snowboarding or skiing than hire a ski instructor! The ski instructors job is to help teach you the skills needed for your first day in a fun and safe manner. A few lessons with a ski instructor will give you a base to begin your first runs alone. Lessons are also a great way to learn in a non-threatening environment with riders similar to you. So if you have any doubts give it a lessons a go!
A key thing to anything – always take baby steps! Start slow and progress slowly and within your comfort range. Don’t get persuaded to do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing. It is okay to say “No”! Always stay in control of your skis or snowboard and remember the skier in front of you has the right of way on the mountain.
If you have any questions or concerns leave a comment!
The Southern Summit Crew
IG: Southernsummitco/FB: Southern Summit Collection