South Tahoe ski resorts in better, similar shape compared to last year
Following a series of holiday storms, Lake Tahoe’s three ski resorts on the South Shore are doing better or about equal to where they were at the same point last year.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort reported Wednesday that it is well ahead of where it was last year in terms of the amount of snow it has received so far and the number of runs it currently has open.
The mountain is 100 percent open with 86 trails — 31 groomed nightly — and one terrain park. Compared to this time last year, when Kirkwood had three runs and two chairlifts open, the improvement is undeniable.
For the recent month of December, Kirkwood received 57 inches of snow at its base and 95 inches at its summit, accruing to a total of 109 inches at the summit since the beginning of the season.
At the same point last year, however, the resort had received about 48 inches at its summit by Dec. 31, for a total of about 79.5 inches since the season began.
“The holidays have been awesome this year,” spokesman Kevin “Coop” Cooper said in an email. “It is such a pleasure to see happy holiday skiers & riders embracing all of the new snow and terrain that we have open this year. We are the only resort in the Basin to have 100 percent of our terrain open.”
Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort and Heavenly Mountain Resort, on the other hand, reported this week that they are, so far, in a similar position to last year.
Sierra-at-Tahoe had 10 lifts and 35 runs — 27 of which were groomed — open as of Wednesday, which was proportionate to New Year’s Eve a year ago, spokeswoman Thea Hardy said.
“I think it’s pretty comparable to last year, but we are more optimistic,” she said.
Early season storms have “definitely” helped draw people to the resort, as have strong wind conditions.
“Excellent tree coverage and north-facing slopes makes us the best bet on windy days,” Hardy added.
On Wednesday, Heavenly had nine lifts open accessing 15 groomed trails. California Main Lodge, Stagecoach Express and the Heavenly Gondola are also available for access to the mountain, though the Gondola was closed Wednesday due to wind.
Recent storms have brought more than a foot of snow in some areas of the resort, and consistently colder temperatures have been ideal for snowmaking, Heavenly spokeswoman Sally Gunter said.
However, a year-over-year comparison puts Heavenly at about the same total for natural snowfall as last season. Snowmaking also puts the mountain in a similar position for open terrain, she added.
The ski resort has so far received 43 inches of natural snow at its summit, compared to 59 inches up to Jan. 1 last season. However, those figures don’t include machine-made snow.
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