Daily file photos by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Conditions are expected to be good for making snow in the next several days at Cloudmont Ski Resort in Mentone.
Take a ski SPREE
Mentone offers state’s only snowmaking resort
By Patrice Stewart
Don’t watch the sky for falling white stuff; just get your long johns and go.
Many sub-freezing nights in February mean a good base for skiing at Alabama’s only snowmaking resort, in Mentone.
Perhaps you can go Monday, if you have Presidents Day off from work or school. While this long cold spell is unusual for Alabama, it makes perfect conditions for skiing or learning how.
Snow machines whip up the frozen confection at Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort, but it takes temperatures of 28 or below with the ground frozen to make it right for skiing, said Janis Carrier, who handles reservations and more for the family-run business.
She reported a 32- to 84-inch base Thursday and expected conditions to be right for making more snow in the next several days.
“We made 12 inches of fresh powder Wednesday night,” she said.
Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort gives free beginner lessons for those 6 and older.
It’s been a good year so far.
“We had only four days that were cold enough in December, and then January was warm until later, but we made snow about eight days at the end of January,” Carrier said.
“Last year, we only had 10 days for skiing in February, but this year we’ve been skiing every day since the first of the month,” she said.
Feb. 3 was their busiest day, with 287 using the two slopes and two chair lifts that day and 211 that night.
Night skiing? You can do it every night when it’s cold enough from 6 to 10.
You can wait until March, but the weather may not cooperate.
“We haven’t made snow in March in a couple of years,” Carrier said, and 1993 was the last year to ski through much of March. That was their second-best year, with 90 days for skiing; the best record was 93 days.
The two 1,000-foot slopes are beginner-intermediate level, with the vertical drop 1,800 feet.
The Jack and Olive Jones family runs this DeKalb County location for winter and summer fun (the warm-weather affiliate, Shady Grove Dude Ranch, offers horseback riding, golf and hiking). Several generations of the family have gotten involved since the first artificial snow fell in 1970.
Carrier serves homemade chili and hot dogs between helping ski customers and answering phones, while her sister, Marsha Hair, runs the ski lodge with rental equipment.
Brother Gary Jones is the snowmaker, the older generation handles the paperwork and the younger ones give ski lessons and help in other areas.
Their nine cabins and other units usually are booked during cold-weather weekends as families and couples come to try their skills at skiing or snowboarding on the slopes.
“We give free beginner lessons, but it’s mostly for those 6 and up,” said Carrier.
They don’t have tubing or sleds for young children.
Ski prices vary depending on time, day and age. A child under 12 can try the 1 to 4 p.m. half-day package with boots, skis, poles, lift tickets and beginner lessons included for $21, while the maximum package is $40 for an adult skiing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a weekend. Snowboard packages are $40.
If you go
What: Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort
When: Skiing when weather is cold enough from December through March, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. weekends and holidays or 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. weekdays
Call: (256) 634-4344 for weather conditions and snow updates.
On the Net: For complete prices and chalet information visit www.cloudmont.com.
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