Season Finale: With plenty of snow still on the ground, South Shore ski resorts stop lifts
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – After nearly half a year of snow sports, and with snow still falling, the inbounds ski and snowboard season is coming to a close.
Heavenly Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort will stop lifts April 24 and April 25, respectively, while Kirkwood Mountain Resort will keep kicking until May 1.
“It was a great season,” said Sierra spokesman Steven Hemphill. “We came so close to breaking that record. We’re 8 inches short as of right now, so after this weekend, who knows where we’ll be.”
The snowfall at resorts around the lake started early and has lasted throughout the season.
“From a snowfall perspective, we’re right up there breaking records,” said Heavenly spokesman Russ Pecoraro. “We put out an amazing product for 160 days.”
Kirkwood sits around 20 inches short of its all-time record. With snow in the forecast for this week, it’s possible it might make the record by closing time. This year the resort has focused on giving real-time weather data, a more accurate measurement than what’s been used in the past, said spokesman Michael Dalzell.
“We’ve really had a lot of snow,” Dalzell said. “There’s no smoke and mirrors about it.”
Some skiers and snowboarders are boggled that resorts are shutting with so much snow still on the ground.
“I don’t know why they’re closing down,” said skier Roger Cornwell, fresh off the lifts at Heavenly. “There’s still snow everywhere.”
Visiting from Buffalo, N.Y., Andre Bickford said he was happy with the conditions at Heavenly after a Friday run down Gun Barrel.
“It’s actually fantastic,” he said. “It froze overnight and the sun came out this morning and softened it up. If you’ve got the quads for it, the bumps are excellent.”
Kirkwood is closing because of a lack of demand, Dalzell said. As the seasons change, it’s hard to keep people interested in skiing and snowboarding, Pecoraro said.
“What we see here in the summer is peoples’ interests shifts to other outdoor pursuits,” he said.
Though the allure of hiking, biking and swimming might rise as summer approaches, Heavenly and Kirkwood both have late spring events planned.
Heavenly will open the gondola May 13-15 during the Amgen Tour of California and during Memorial Day weekend to offer sightseeing and tubing. Kirkwood will run lifts 10 and 11 over Memorial Day weekend with a barbecue on the plaza and $35 lift tickets. Depending on the amount of snow, Kirkwood is also considering a July 4 opening, but will not make the decision until the end of May.
For skiers and snowboarders dying to get more turns in, there’s always the backcountry.
“I’ll be going as long as I can,” said Wes Minton, a South Lake Tahoe resident who splitboards several times a week. “It should be good until June or so, depending on where you go.”