Mountain snow remains, skiing enthusiasm wanes




At Mount Hood

 Mount Hood Skibowl — Final day of ski season was April 16.

• Mount Hood Meadows — 123-inch base snow depth. Open daily through Sunday, then April 28 through 30 plus May 5 and 6.

• Timberline Lodge — 181-inch base snow depth, open daily for skiing through August.

Don’t tell Central Oregon ski areas there is too much of good thing.

Especially up on Mt. Bachelor, where heavy snowfall this winter is keeping the mountain open until Memorial Day, resort officials say.

The ski area experienced its third snowiest winter on record, said Mt. Bachelor spokesman Drew Jackson.

December, January and February each produced more than 100 inches of snow, a consistent stretch of snowfall never before seen at Mt. Bachelor.

But Jackson said there’s a drawback to all that snow: winter fatigue.

“Once it starts to turn warm and nice in town, in Bend, the number of other outdoor recreation opportunities start to increase,” he said. “We have to compete more for people’s time. Inevitably, we lose to some extent.”

In an average April, the ski area sees about 60 percent of the visitors it had in March. By May, the ski area sees half of what it gets in April.

That drop off has already been more noticeable this spring.

“After the amount of snow we had this winter, the spring break week it seemed people were choosing sun and sand more than snow,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be a challenge this spring to keep people on the slopes.”

At the lower elevation, Bend ski shops are also seeing the season winding down.

Powder House Ski & Snowboard, one of Bend’s original ski shops that’s been around since 1976, is starting to put out more of its patio furniture rather than skis.

“It’s slower for sure, businesswise,” Powder House manager Chris Costigan said. “People are pretty sick of winter. It’s almost irrelevant how much snow is up there this time of year.”

Ryan Lindell, the owner of Skjersaa’s Pub in Bend, said most people he talks to already got their winter sports fix and are ready to start their springtime activities.

“That’s how I feel at this point,” Lindell said. “We had such a good winter, but now people are starting to see some sunshine and are mountain biking and kayaking.”

This past winter was one for the record books. Snowfall piled up three times more than usual in Bend and local ski areas didn’t miss out either.

From Oct. 1 to April 1, Mt. Bachelor ski area accumulated 511 inches of snow.

Last year, the ski area had 388 inches by April 1. The average snowfall for a season is 457 inches.

Mt. Bachelor staff believe the snow accumulation this winter could have been even higher.

This winter was considerably colder, so the snowfall came down lighter and drier, which compressed more at the base.

As of April 1, the base depth was 123 inches, just a few inches higher than the 118 inches recorded in April last season.

“Our base depth numbers don’t seem to well reflect the amount of snow we had this winter,” Jackson said.

“This year’s snowfall settled a lot more because of the air in it.”

Mt. Bachelor plans to keep its normal winter hours and its Cloud Chaser lift open through April. The ski area won’t start shortening hours and limiting terrain until May.

Despite the dwindling attendance, Jackson expects this spring ski season to be one of the best for those looking to get a few more runs in before summer melts them away.

“We have a healthy number of local season pass holders,” Jackson said. “We are hoping they don’t forget about us in the next couple of months.