Resorts set closure dates despite deep snow: Come May, crowds turn from slopes to trails
April 7, 2005
The snow is deep on the mountains, but come May the snow around the lake will likely melt, pulling many from the ski slopes to bike trails.
Snow bases that run 12 feet deep at places like Heavenly Mountain Resort could provide decent skiing and snowboarding into early summer. Still, South Shore resorts plan to shut down within the next three weeks because sloppy snow brought by warmer weather is no match for other spring sports.
“We’ve tried to stay open through May a number of times and nobody comes out – it does not pay off at Kirkwood,” said Tim Cohee, president of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, which has received 734 inches of snow this season.
Apparently staying open into May doesn’t pay off for Sierra-at-Tahoe either. It will be the first South Shore resort to close when it shuts down April 18. Heavenly and Kirkwood’s last day is scheduled for May 1.
“It’s a business decision. We tend to close due to volume,” said Nicole Belt, Sierra-at-Tahoe communications manager. “Once temperatures start warming up, we find we’re competing with summer activities like mountain biking, water skiing and mountain climbing.”
Tyler Cannon, 38, of South Lake Tahoe, is among the group of people who forgo skiing for spring sports.
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“When the mountain bike trails are clear, a beer and the beach is a better option,” said Cannon, explaining the factors he weighs before calling it a season.
Pat McAndrew, 26, of South Lake Tahoe, who moved from Chicago two years ago to snowboard, sees things differently.
“Until the last possible day of the season, whether it’s here or going to Mammoth or even Mt. Hood to snowboard,” McAndrew said. “I try to go as many days as possible.”
In an effort to keep skiers and riders coming through spring, resorts beginning next week will lower their lift ticket prices by about $10. Sierra-at-Tahoe plans to sell lift tickets for $20 the day it closes as part of a customer appreciation day.
Passholders, like everyone else, will be turned away by the resorts come May. But unlike other heavy snow years, the season began early – late October or mid-November – so there is less to complain about.
“We will be open 172 days this year, so I don’t think the passholders will feel like they are getting shorted,” Cohee said.
Once the resorts close, there will still be plenty of snow in the backcountry. Younger snowboarders and skiers often head out to the Patch, an area near Red Lakes, off Highway 88 toward Kirkwood, and enjoy its long-lasting snow through the summer.