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Western North Carolina The Mountain Region including Asheville
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:33 AM
 
2 posts, read 20,055 times
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Me and some friends are taking a ski/snowboard trip to NC, and are trying to choose between Beech and Sugar mountains. What should we expect at either? I have been to Heavenly at Tahoe, but also Ober Gatlinburg (lol). I realize that neither of these places will be as nice or big as Heavenly, but how much better are they than Gatlinburg?

None of us are that great, so we don't need very challenging runs or anything. We would also like to have bars/restaurants close by at night. Which place is better for that?

Also, I have checked out the rental prices that both of these places offer, and they are ridiculously overpriced. Is there anywhere close by that offers rentals that are cheaper?

Thanks for any info!
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Pittman Center, Tennessee
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Sugar has a 1.5 mile long run with a 1200 ft vertical with 20 trails....all besting Beech. Bar scene not that great in either place...a couple of places in Banner Elk (close to Sugar). Rentals, if you're meaning a place to crash, yea it's over priced at both places...only cheaper down the road at Boone, but that means driving...aint worth it. Further north to Snowshoe, West Virginia about 1.5 hours is comparable conditions to New England...57 trails and plenty of east coast powder.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:07 AM
 
Location: near downtown Greenville, SC (viewing the sunset vicariously at Lido Beach)
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Wait, are you saying that Boone, NC is 1 1/2 hours to Snowshoe? The drive from Boone to Snowshoe is at least 5 hours (unless you actually know the location of srk827 - but he/she did not complete their location information).

I only post the above because I'm planning a trip from Greenville (SC) to Snowshoe in early March and the drive time from here is 7 hours.
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:53 AM
 
Location: NC High Country
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Conditions vary from day to day and week to week. When weather is iffy, Sugar generally does a better job with snow making and grooming than Beech. Sugar is much easier to access.

Both mountains have their fans and in many instances, it's a matter of personal preference.
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:57 AM
 
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Thanks for the responses! By rentals I was actually referring to snowboard/ski rentals--sorry, I should have been more clear. We are driving from Tuscaloosa, AL, so it's already going to be a long trip. I think WV is out of the question.

I read that the lifts at Sugar are slower, and that generally, the lines are longer. Have you all found this to be true?

Also, I am wondering which has a better "feel" to it, like in terms of apres ski. It seems that Beech has a village at the base...does Sugar? Or will we definitely need to go to Banner Elk to have something to do at nighttime at either place?
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:02 PM
 
Location: NC High Country
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Renting equipment.... if you rent "on" the mountain and something goes wrong, it's a lot more convenient to get fixes or replacements. The further away you rent, the more hassle to get anything fixed. So I guess, bottom line: convenience = $

Beech does have a high speed lift on a shorter slope than Sugar's - go figure! I have found that the high speed lift dumps more people at the top quicker. So you basically have a choice - wait longer in line and the skiers are more spread out on the slope (Sugar), or have a quicker ride and more congestion on slope (Beech). Either way, if you go on a holiday or weekend and the conditions are good, you'll be waiting in line and facing congestion at either mountain. That's the facts of NC skiing. Not trying to be negative, just giving you a shot of reality.

We have a home in the area, so we are clueless about nightlife.

BTW, if you have any "never-evers" in your group, please, please, please, have them take a lesson first. It's worth its weight in gold.... to them and everyone else they may come in contact with (pun intended).
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:22 PM
 
25 posts, read 61,815 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadpony View Post
Renting equipment.... if you rent "on" the mountain and something goes wrong, it's a lot more convenient to get fixes or replacements. The further away you rent, the more hassle to get anything fixed. So I guess, bottom line: convenience = $

Beech does have a high speed lift on a shorter slope than Sugar's - go figure! I have found that the high speed lift dumps more people at the top quicker. So you basically have a choice - wait longer in line and the skiers are more spread out on the slope (Sugar), or have a quicker ride and more congestion on slope (Beech). Either way, if you go on a holiday or weekend and the conditions are good, you'll be waiting in line and facing congestion at either mountain. That's the facts of NC skiing. Not trying to be negative, just giving you a shot of reality.

We have a home in the area, so we are clueless about nightlife.

BTW, if you have any "never-evers" in your group, please, please, please, have them take a lesson first. It's worth its weight in gold.... to them and everyone else they may come in contact with (pun intended).
So, generally speaking for either mountain, and recognizing that it will never be the same as New England or even WV, are there a number of days each year when the conditions support decent powder, or is it routinely more icy or slushy than powder? If I rent a place for a week, and invite family/friends to drive from the DC area to visit us (7 hours), would it be worth their drive?
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:10 PM
 
Location: NC High Country
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Powder, as skiers know it in the west, is virtually non-existent in the South or the East for that matter. Skiing in NC is quite comparable to WV when talking about quality of snow and grooming, but none of the NC ski areas is as large as Snowshoe.

Southern skiing relies almost 100% on snowmaking. Any real snow that falls is icing on the cake. The NC ski areas do a pretty good job of grooming their slopes. However, on days of heavy traffic - weekends and holidays - the sheer volume of traffic will degrade the quality of the snow throughout the day, i.e. scrape off the top layer of groomed snow and make it icier. Each night, weather permitting, they'll blow more snow and freshly groom each morning before the slopes open. The key to access to optimal conditions, most days, is to get out early and ski as much as you can before lunch. In addition to full day tickets, they sell twilight tickets (afternoon + night) so a whole fresh batch of skiers will pour in at lunchtime. Any slope, anywhere, will turn to slush if the temperature is high enough. Southern skiing is always a crapshoot, so planning very far in advance is always iffy. As to whether it would be worth a drive from DC? That's a question I can't answer, but if I lived in DC, I'd be more likely to ski at Snowshoe. NC gets a lot of skiers from FL and AL. Those are long drives too. Interestingly, there are a lot of folks from Louisiana who'll come up each year to avoid Mardi Gras.
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Old 11-29-2012, 10:47 PM
 
25 posts, read 61,815 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roadpony View Post
Powder, as skiers know it in the west, is virtually non-existent in the South or the East for that matter. Skiing in NC is quite comparable to WV when talking about quality of snow and grooming, but none of the NC ski areas is as large as Snowshoe.

Southern skiing relies almost 100% on snowmaking. Any real snow that falls is icing on the cake. The NC ski areas do a pretty good job of grooming their slopes. However, on days of heavy traffic - weekends and holidays - the sheer volume of traffic will degrade the quality of the snow throughout the day, i.e. scrape off the top layer of groomed snow and make it icier. Each night, weather permitting, they'll blow more snow and freshly groom each morning before the slopes open. The key to access to optimal conditions, most days, is to get out early and ski as much as you can before lunch. In addition to full day tickets, they sell twilight tickets (afternoon + night) so a whole fresh batch of skiers will pour in at lunchtime. Any slope, anywhere, will turn to slush if the temperature is high enough. Southern skiing is always a crapshoot, so planning very far in advance is always iffy. As to whether it would be worth a drive from DC? That's a question I can't answer, but if I lived in DC, I'd be more likely to ski at Snowshoe. NC gets a lot of skiers from FL and AL. Those are long drives too. Interestingly, there are a lot of folks from Louisiana who'll come up each year to avoid Mardi Gras.
All makes sense...thx for your insight.
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Pittman Center, Tennessee
306 posts, read 667,530 times
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drfranklin, you are right. I was thinking of Winterplace, Virginia and even that is the way the crow flies. If anyone is coming from DC, roadpony is right..go to Snowshoe or even Wisp in Maryland. North Carolina slopes are the first mountains you reach coming from Florida, Alabama, etc, so to them, it's Aspen!
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