Extreme Weather Extends California Ski Season Into Summer
This summer, people will be able to surf and ski in the same day as some of California’s ski resorts stay open into the summer, thanks to the winter’s unusually high snowfall.
After a winter of extreme weather that led to flooding and the lifting of the drought emergency status in California, skiers and snowboarders will be able to hit the slopes well into the summer months.
Though it’s not unprecedented to stay open into the summer—and some resorts even make it a goal to stay open through July 4th—it is highly unusual for the ski season to continue past the holiday. At this point, Mammoth Mountain plans to be open daily into August, and Squaw Valley expects to be open through the weekends in July.
“An epic snow year means California will see skiers and riders from all around the world getting in their last runs well past spring at multiple resorts,” Michael Reitzell, president of the California Ski Industry Association (Ski California), said in a press release. “The conditions have been amazing, and all resorts have enjoyed a long season.”
NASA data found that California’s snow accumulation this year was larger than the past four years combined, and the California Department of Water Resources said it was 185 percent greater than the yearly average. While that now means a summer ski season, it meant resorts had to stay closed during many winter days because of extreme conditions like ski lifts buried in snow or winds up to 200 miles per hour.
The extended season will help the resorts recoup the lost business, and Reitzell told Associations Now it will still be good year overall, especially as Memorial Weekend brought in plenty of business.
“There’s a lot more buzz this year because of the prospect of staying open beyond July 4th, because that’s unprecedented,” he said.
To keep the slopes ready for skiers and boarders, the resorts won’t need to use snow machines either. They’ll be able to groom and reuse the existing snow to cover the runs.
Resorts will face one challenge, however: They’ll also be running summer operations, like mountain biking, along with the extended ski season. “At Mammoth, for example, you’ll have people getting on the gondola with skis, and you’ll have people getting on the gondola right behind them with mountain bikes,” Reitzell said.
To keep both activities running smoothly, resorts will maintain separate areas for each, ensuring the mountain biking trails are clear of snow and the ski slopes are groomed. Maps will also indicate the designated areas.
But Reitzell thinks having winter and summer operations running simultaneously won’t negatively affect business. “In fact, it probably might lead to more people choosing to come try to do both on the same day, which is, I think, one of the coolest things California has to offer …” he said. “In Tahoe or Mammoth, you could go skiing, water skiing, mountain biking, river rafting, and play golf all in the same day.”