With help from a winter storm early in the week that topped off an accumulation of machine-produced snow with eight inches of powder, Snowshoe Mountain Resort will open for 2020-2021 ski season on Friday.
The Pocahontas County resort will make its season debut using nine of its 61 trails, plus a terrain park, served by three of its 12 lifts. An average snow base of 45 inches covers the 29 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain available for Snowshoe’s opening weekend.
On Thursday, Snowshoe employees and season pass holders previewed the available terrain in a special session hosted by the resort. Snowshoe Mountain’s Silver Creek section is scheduled to open on Dec. 18.
In Tucker County, Canaan Valley Resort’s ski area is scheduled to host its season opener on Dec. 19. The state’s longest-operating downhill ski area includes 47 trails served by four lifts, along with a snow tube park.
A few miles down the valley on Thursday, Timberline Mountain’s 70 new tower-mounted snow guns and an array of refurbished snow makers were adding to an accumulation of natural snow that descended on the ski resort Monday.
Timberline’s debut date has not been announced, but is expected to occur within the next week or two. The ski area, which was closed for the 2019-2020 season after its previous owners filed for bankruptcy, is now owned by Indiana-based Perfect North Slope. The company has added more than $10 million in new infrastructure to the resort, including two new chairlifts — one of them a six-passenger high-speed lift — and a new addition to, and complete refurbishing of its lodge.
While Snowshoe Mountain will be the first downhill ski resort to open for the season, White Grass Touring Center, the state’s best-known cross-country ski area, has already hosted seven days of nordic skiing, including three days with at least 50 kilometers of trail available. White Grass, located between Canaan Valley Resort and Timberline, was the beneficiary of a seven-inch snowfall on Monday.
Snow guns have been blazing all week at Winterplace Ski Resort near Ghent, in Raleigh County, the state’s southernmost ski area, where an opening date has yet to be announced. In addition to its nine lifts and 27 trails, Winterplace is the home of the state’s biggest snow tubing park, with up to 14 lanes served by two surface lifts.
The West Virginia Ski Areas Association urges those planning to spend time on the slopes this winter to check with resorts to learn what special COVID-19 safety requirements and capacity management procedures may be in place.
In general, masks and social distancing guidelines are in effect for visitors and employees when inside lodges, shops and other indoor facilities. While ski and snowboard lengths help maintain social distancing in lift lines, line patterns will be formed to ensure that distancing guidelines will be met. Groups or families traveling together to ski areas will be expected to self-group in lift lines. Individuals not traveling with groups will ride lifts separately.
Skiers, snowboarders and snow tube enthusiasts are encouraged, and in some cases required, to buy lift tickets in advance of planned visits, particularly during holidays or peak weekends. New COVID-19 capacity management practices may set daily limits on the number of lift tickets sold or lessons held.