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WINTER REFUSES TO QUIT, AND SO DO SOME SKI AREAS

06/07/2011

STRAIGHT FROM… THE SNOW INDUSTRY LETTER
May 31, 2011             Vol. 33, No. 20

Memorial Day weekend, the traditional kickoff of the summer season, had a decidedly wintry feel in the Rocky Mountains, as well as California’s Sierra Nevada, because of lingering record snowfall, according to published reports. Epic snowpack in parts of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and California is forcing many tourists to abandon the annual rites of launching their summer holidays with a camping trip. Others plan to take advantage of prolonged skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing this strange spring.

Rocky Mountain National Park’s popular Trail Ridge Road was closed because of 17-foot snowdrifts. Yellowstone National Park had just one campground open. The Bridger-Teton National Forest Avalanche Center is fully staffed to warn outdoors enthusiasts. In California, a historic Sierra Nevada snowpack is making Yosemite National Park’s springtime cascading waterfalls especially beautiful – and dangerous -with several accidental drownings already of people who failed to keep away from thundering waterfalls and swollen creeks and rivers.

While the snow is bad for some campers, it’s great for skiers and snowboarders. Aspen Mountain, CO saw about 1,700 enthusiasts on 25 runs and 136 acres Saturday. The Aspen Daily News reported that Aspen Skiing Co. will consider opening on weekends into the summer. Vice President of Mountain Operations Rich Burkley said the goal is to keep skiing through July 4. That was the late mark in 1995, another year of heavy snow.

Scheduled to close after this weekend were Whistler/Blackcomb, BC, Alyeska, AK, Mt. Bachelor, OR, Silver Mountain, ID, and Kirkwood, CA. Continuing operations are planned at Mammoth, CA (until July 4), Arapahoe Basin, CO (mid-June), Crystal Mountain, WA and Snowbird, UT (weekends through June) and possible weekends at Aspen, CO. Squaw Valley, CA, closed Monday but will reopen for skiing and riding for 4th of July Weekend. Squaw Valley’s pond skimming event, the Lake Cushing Crossing, was postponed from May 29 to July 3.