"It's negative 4 degrees and we're making snow," said [R471R, Timberline]'s Jessica Scowcroft the other day.

Timberline opened early, thanks to mid-November cold and snow, but then was hit by a milder spell that moved across the entire Mid Atlantic.

The effect was not catastrophic however, diminishing the base but not demolishing it, and leaving the area in position to recover for the holidays.

Over the longer view, Scowcroft said, there are signs skiers and riders plan to stay local this winter.

"Our situation is hard and unique. We get lots of Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and other budget-minded clientele who can't go out West and come here instead. Our traditional larger groups are holding strong. We're also getting a lot of calls from people who say they usually go out West, but this year are staying closer to home," she said.

"It's hard to say. The economy may hurt us with people who ski twice, and who might ski once this winter. On the other hand, people who go out West might come here," Scowcroft said.

Timberline's January events include a rail jam Jan. 10; a Level 1 PSIA-AASI clinic Jan. 22-23; an All-Level Snowboard GS Jan. 24; a telemark workshop Jan. 25; and a collegiate race Jan. 31-Feb. 1.