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Why do Ski Resorts Close on the same date every year even if they have lots of snow?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I was sure I read about this in another thread, but I did a search and didn't find anything.  I have heard three different "theories" on this.

 

1.  If they are on Federal Land, it has something to do with that.

 

2.  It's because of the moose/elk migration.

 

3.  It's just not economically feasible to stay open longer.

 

I'd like to find out the REAL reason once and for all.

post #2 of 25

Why are those not REAL reasons?

 

4. Seasonal employees need to attend to jobs of their "other seasons."

post #3 of 25

Too many people thinking about golf, fishing, mountain biking, etc instead of skiing in March/April/May.  If they can make lots of money they will be open.  If they can not they will close.

post #4 of 25

Most ski areas don't own the land that the operate on and they lease it from the USFS.  When their lease runs out, they close.  That simple.

 

Now, as to why don't they extend their lease?  I imagine it's just not economically feasible.  I've been to some of the big Colorado Summit County areas during closing week.  They're ghost towns.  Ski onto the lift every time.

post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

Most ski areas don't own the land that the operate on and they lease it from the USFS.  When their lease runs out, they close.  That simple.

 

Now, as to why don't they extend their lease?  I imagine it's just not economically feasible.  I've been to some of the big Colorado Summit County areas during closing week.  They're ghost towns.  Ski onto the lift every time.


Most resorts around here are open year round, but change activities from skiing to golf and mountain biking spring and summer.  However, that is also usually after there isn't enough snow remaining to ski on.  I am aware that some resorts are leased but wasn't aware that was more often than not.

post #6 of 25

In my fair state, there is often a battle between Sugarloaf and Sunday River for the longest season. It is purely for bragging rights because those days put little money in their pockets.

But for a skiers, it creates the opportunity to ski in a glazed gravel pit in November, should you desire, or in frozen mashed potatoes on a sun-baked day in May, which we all desire. Consequently, there is no formal "closing date," and so long as there is snow into early May, at least some of the lifts will spin.

In years past, when we received far more snow than we typically do now, skiers generally crapped out before the snow did. For those who hang, on there is simply nothing better than a high spring sun reflecting gold off a carpet of frozen corn.

:popcorn

D1


post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Why are those not REAL reasons?

4. Seasonal employees need to attend to jobs of their "other seasons."



This!

5. The Ski Resort Calendar is set early on in the season and many plans hinge around that calendar, particularly the closing date. The resort cannot willy-nilly decide to extend everything by two weeks just because there is two feet of snow on the ground.

Those five reasons should be "real" enough.
post #8 of 25

Whenever our resort closes down in May there are howls of protest. But if it takes more money to operate than they are bringing in from day passes at that point then it makes sense. Our average season is about 6 months, If you don't make it up enough in half a year to feel like you got your moneys worth out of a 500 dollar pass, then that is your fault.

 

But I think the answer to the OP is: all of the above.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
 

1.  If they are on Federal Land, it has something to do with that.

 

2.  It's because of the moose/elk migration.

 

3.  It's just not economically feasible to stay open longer.

 

I'd like to find out the REAL reason once and for all

Depending on which ski area you are talking about, one or more of these may be true. Obviously it's not going to be the same everywhere. Here in WA, most of the areas are on forest service land and each has its own lease which spells out things like what the operating season is. And its going to be different at different places for different reasons.

post #10 of 25
Here's it's because of grizzlies. :-)
post #11 of 25

simply put people are lame and would rather ski on WROD from thanksgiving to MLK day instead of great snow in MArch/april and sometimes may

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

Seriously?  Or are you kidding and I'm just gullible?  I've skied at Big Mountain (Whitefish) and it was one of our favorite places.  I'd like to get back there sometime.

post #13 of 25
IME our most reliable snow comes in March, April and May, but on the Wasatch Front most people who bike, run or hike switch over by then. It's the best time to be in Southern Utah, too--flower blooms and bird migration in the desert start in early April. Most weekdays I can ski Alta all day and never share a lift, and only occasionally even see another skier near a lift unless I come down Sunnyside after 3:00 when parents and kids show up for $10 ski after 3:00. Storm days and the day after get the small powder-crazed mob, but even that shrinks after less-devoted powder hounds switch to their summer sports.

So it's the Forest Service lease, but also business sense. It doesn't matter how great the snow is, people just lose interest.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the answers, everybody!  Now it all makes sense!

post #15 of 25
We close Hellroaring Basin on April 1 every year for spring grizzly habitat. The whole resort closes the following weekend. Now, do the bears know it's closed without regard to how much snow and the temperature? Doubtful. The last week of the season is pretty empty of skiers, without regard to them becoming a bear's first spring meal.
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Here's it's because of grizzlies. :-)

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclist View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

Why are those not REAL reasons?

4. Seasonal employees need to attend to jobs of their "other seasons."



This!

5. The Ski Resort Calendar is set early on in the season and many plans hinge around that calendar, particularly the closing date. The resort cannot willy-nilly decide to extend everything by two weeks just because there is two feet of snow on the ground.

Those five reasons should be "real" enough.

Although exceptions are made.  Last spring there was a late season snowstorm that dumped on WV and VA.  Not two feet, but enough for Mid-A spring skiing.  Massanutten and Wintergreen extended their season by a week or two into mid-March.  Pretty sure Snowshoe extended as well.

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Although exceptions are made.  Last spring there was a late season snowstorm that dumped on WV and VA.  Not two feet, but enough for Mid-A spring skiing.  Massanutten and Wintergreen extended their season by a week or two into mid-March.  Pretty sure Snowshoe extended as well.

 

And this is why I got the hell out of the mid-Atlantic. Extending a season into March? No thanks. Extending it into May? Okay. And skiing into mid-March isn't spring skiing. According to the calendar, it's still winter.

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post

Most ski areas don't own the land that the operate on and they lease it from the USFS.  When their lease runs out, they close.  That simple.

Now, as to why don't they extend their lease?  I imagine it's just not economically feasible.  I've been to some of the big Colorado Summit County areas during closing week.  They're ghost towns.  Ski onto the lift every time.

I've asked about it here, and they own the land so extending the lease isn't the problem.

The problem, as explained to me, is extending the liability insurance coverage. As the season goes into spring, the risks get greater due to poor snow coverage that is only going to get worse. It is insanely expensive to get that additional, short term coverage.
post #20 of 25

Not at Killington.  As long as there is a scrap of snow on Superstar, they are open.  They are about ready to blow the snow to build the base that will allow them to get into May and maybe even June. 


Edited by JimH - 1/24/14 at 7:41am
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimH View Post
 

Not at Killington.  As long as there is a scrap of snow on Superstar, they are open.  They are about ready to blow the snow to build the base that will allow them to get into May and maybe even June. 

Isn't that what terrain parks are for, to cannibalize and use for base when cover gets thin elsewhere?

post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimH View Post
 

Not at Killington.  As long as there is a scrap of snow on Superstar, they are open.  They are about ready to blow the snow to build the base that will allow them to get into May and maybe even June. 

Isn't that what terrain parks are for, to cannibalize and use for base when cover gets thin elsewhere?

Insider tip for our neck of the woods.............Some of the best carving is in the Terrain Parks.Thumbs Up

post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
 

Insider tip for our neck of the woods.............Some of the best carving is in the Terrain Parks.Thumbs Up

Watch out for Jaques filming epic yard sales.

post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post
 

Insider tip for our neck of the woods.............Some of the best board scraped icy carving is in the Terrain Parks.Thumbs Up

fixed and actually agree when on sharp edges..

post #25 of 25
Quote:
Simply put people are lame and would rather ski on WROD from thanksgiving to MLK day instead of great snow in March/Aapril and sometimes May 

+10

Which means

Quote:
3.  It's just not economically feasible to stay open longer.  

 is the reason 90+% of the time, Montana grizzly bears notwithstanding.

 

Quote:
Not at Killington.  As long as there is a scrap of snow on Superstar, they are open.  They are about ready to blow the snow to build the base that will allow them to get into May and maybe even June.   

Or anywhere else there's a drive-up population base big enough to support the late season.   Mammoth is very flexible about its closing date, and also sends management employees out to run extra lifts on busy weekends after the seasonal employees leave in late April.   On the rare occasions we get deep base of snow here in SoCal, one or two of the local areas will run weekends into May.

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