by: Jonathan DeBerry - 12th March 2009

  • 2
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 2All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 3Family Friendly
  • 2Nightlife
  • 2Terrain Park
  • Value
Best vertical around, real black diamonds, lotsa lifts & a sweet view
Snow machines, ice, crowds, bare spots & parking

Full review

Given the level of suffering and danger generated by the impressive arsenal of snow machines, they must be the first item mentioned. Sugar Mountain is not willing to cease and desist snow machine operation even during the brief 4-hour night session, forcing you the skier to deal with deafening noise, wiping your goggles from a blinding coat of machine-induced ice crust whilst skiing and, finally, dodging the machine-induced wet spots that can and will stop you dead in your tracks just as if you had hit a short fence. While the desire to make as much snow as possible could potentially be understandable given the southern location, the way in which snow making is being carried out is both dangerous, loathsome and just plain no-fun. Additionally, even when there is a minimum coverage of over 30 inches, Sugar Mountain still blows the snow guns on powder days on every single slope, leaving you the skier unable to enjoy what Mother Nature so graciously deposited(the sometimes fluffy powder having been ruined by crappy machine snow). Hint: Avoid the snow machines like the plague they are or become an expert at the wipe&ski. The hill itself is steep and surprisingly awesome given its location. The blacks are legit; the vertical drop is enough for a quad burn; the terrain park is worth hitting, and the bunny slopes are some of the best around for learning on. The place can get crowded to the point of madness, especially when you factor in the slow lifts, dangerous snow guns and ice/bare spots. The on-mountain grub is pricey but good, and the student discounts can be helpful to some. Avoid weekends after 12pm, snow guns, wet spots under the guns, ice, bare spots and newbies that traverse the whole slope every 20 feet and you might just have yourself a good time. Not a good resort for making random stops on the slope either; you may very well get smacked at high speed by someone in camo and blue jeans. The resort is much easier to access than Beech Mt. on snow days due to its easily accessible base, and it's closer to Banner Elk for the apres ski thing(not many options there, although there is a bar on-site upstairs in the lodge). Check out Big Red if you want to feel like you're in a video game, and don't forget to turn around on the lift to take in the amazing view of Grandfather Mountain and beyond. Good luck.
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