As one Lake Tahoe-area ski resort muses about staying open through the summer, another faces a social media backlash as it closes lifts and runs for the season.
The end of ski season comes around this time every year. What is different this year is that lack of snow isn’t forcing the closure.
As evidenced by sharp comments throughout the week, patrons of Heavenly Ski Resort are not happy that the resort is shutting down. A Monday post about scheduled lift closures unleashed about 90 comments, many of them negative.
“So freaking lame #vailsucks,” wrote Alissa Hamann, who according to her Facebook page attended El Dorado High School.
Other users complained about the timing of the notice, the specific location of the lift closures and general management of the resort.
“Wow! Are you Kidding me?!!! Most of your Mountain and lifts were closed over half the season due to weather,” wrote Eric Moon of Santa Cruz. “Now that the winds are calm and we can finally enjoy the mountain without storm or winds and you close half the lifts? Seriously bad form!!! I wish I would have know this two weeks ago before I renewed my pass.”
More than a few posts defend the resort. Heavenly did not respond to an interview request by press deadline.
Perhaps emblematic of operations in recent days, on Saturday Heavenly officials announced that the annual pond skim was canceled after overnight temperatures froze the surface of the pond. The pond skim is a spring skiing rite of passage at many resorts. Costume-clad participants, often to a bumping sound track, ski down a hill then attempt to skim across a small body of water.
“At this time there are no plans to reschedule,” ends the post scuttling the event. It too set off a chorus of boos.
Every resort on an individual basis determines when it makes sense for them to close, said Michael Reitzell of the California Ski Industry Association. “The snow is typically going to tell you (when its time to close),” Reitzell said, adding that there are other considerations. For one, seasonally hired staff may have jobs or school elsewhere.
“There is a significant drop in demand after Easter. Some resorts make the determination it doesn’t make sense after a date,” Reitzell said. He added that it wouldn’t pencil out for any of the resorts if they all tried to stay open.
Squaw Valley, for one, has made it a quest to be the last mountain open. It previously announced that it would open for July 4 skiing. Then, on Monday, CEO Andy Wirth said Squaw is “taking a hard look” at keeping the resort open through the summer and fall.
For the vast majority of Tahoe Area ski resorts, however, it’s closing time. On Sunday, Tahoe Donner, Mount Shasta Ski Park, Homewood Mountain Resort and Kirkwood all closed for the season. Northstar, Soda Springs and Diamond Peak will close next Sunday. Sierra-At-Tahoe closes Monday. Mount Rose is set to close May 29. Boreal will close normal operations next Sunday but has ski/ride days set for June 10 and July 1.
On Thursday, citing 782 inches of total snow, officials at Sugar Bowl announced they will continue operations through May 7. They will close regular operations Sunday but be open the weekends of April 28-30 and May 5-7.
Heavenly will close regular operations Sunday then reopen for a final weekend April 28-30. All closure dates are subject to change based on the weather.