or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Skiing in/past March: why not popular?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Skiing in/past March: why not popular?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
So, here in Oregon, we continue to get hammered by cold storms. Last week it was snow down in Portland, and dry, deep snow up in the Cascades (16-20" new overnight): the stuff that happens once every couple of years in Oregon. Today, there is another 7" of new snow on the mountain, and snow predicted on/off for the next two weeks. Base is at 175" and is very consolidated (we have had plenty of rain with that snow): that is all-natural, non-manmade snow.

For those of you unfamiliar with the PNW, March is a winter month. Our snowpack grows on average until early April. When growing up, I skied every Spring Break, and remember 2 or 3 sunny days. The other 15 or so I can remember ranged from light snow to BIG storm. The storm track shifts typically in February/March and the jet stream moves northward (up through the Bearing Sea/Gulf of Alaska) and then creates a trough across the PNW and BC. Which means that in March, it is wet, cold, and gloomy most of the month: we don't see warm temperatures until April at the earliest (last year, it wasn't until late-June: the average temperature in June was something like 60F-brrrr).

So, Oregon in March/early April looks alot like January. There isn't much to do outside: too cold and wet to ride a bike (unless you have good gear, but most weekend warriors keep the bikes inside until mid-April at the earliest), the golf courses don't open for another month, it is 45 degrees outside every day and cloudy.

But, for some reason, people just stop skiing. WHY? I just don't understand. The skiing is great, the snow is superb! What else can they do this time of year? Sit inside and watch it rain? We get BIG dumps, and nobody is on the hill. Likewise in late April/early May, which has primo spring conditions (and the occasional good storm, followed by a bluebird day, which doesn't get any better) and again, nobody is on the hill! So many customers complain to me that "every time I come here, it is snowing and blowing" and I tell them "hey, it is winter in Oregon, which means snow, wind, and grey skies. When is the last time you saw the sun in Portland? Come back in May for some sunny skiing!". But they never do.

Now, as a skier, this doesn't bother me one bit. Hit a great spring storm late March/April, and you can ski fresh lines ALL day! It doesn't get much better! But, as a ski shop operator, it is a bit worrisome. Our business just falls away, but it is too cold for cycling and our normal summertime business, typically until May.

Can somebody help me understand this phenomenon? Bachelor used to stay open until the 4th of July, but stopped due to lack of skier interest (they are still open until Memorial Day, however). Every other spring, we think "wow, we have great snow: this is going to be a strong spring business-wise" and every spring, we see business taper off to nothing in mid-March.
post #2 of 48
if it is like australian phenomenon ....

they start advertising winter stuff (skiing) way before any snow falls.....

by end of winter they are advertising the beach holidays evenn though the best skiing can be had....

resorts have no customers so lifts shut

solution..... skins and tele skis
post #3 of 48
The best PNW skiing is in March. The weather's less severe and the snow pack is excellent. Moreover, temperatures are still plenty cold.

Why then, do things taper off? My guess is: attention. People are fickle and whimsical. They just start thinking about other things - the way we think about ski season in November.

For a lot of folks, imagining the activity, and planning is half the experience, or more. They may not be biking and kayaking yet, but they're pouring over the magazines and planning their next gear purchase.

I find myself doing it too - with boats and bikes. But, I still ski, and will continue until the bitter end. I just bought new skis last week.
post #4 of 48
Sometimes people expect that if it's raining where they are then it is raining in the mountains too. Normally this is untrue, but it's what a lot of people think (at least here in VT). There goes a majority of the business of the resorts.
post #5 of 48
ummmm - why would rain be a problem?
post #6 of 48

Reported Tuesday, March 21, 2006, 10:26 AM
Base (F)26º Mid-Mountain (F)19º
Base (inches) 173" Mid-Mountain (inches) 192"
2 inches new overnight and another 4 inches since the 5 am. report. Currently snowing lightly.
Moderate winds from the northwest.

No skiing here, no sir. Just us chickens.
post #7 of 48
I think its because people who don't ski all the time associate skiing with winter, and winter with december, january, and febuary. The real question is why do they associate winter in the mountains with only those three months. Probably because that's when winter is where they live.

But who really wants everybody to come and crowd up the slopes?
post #8 of 48
I don't know but I love it. My wife and I had Stowe to ourselves this past Sunday afternoon and they have around 20 inches over the last week.

post #9 of 48
1. There is a large quantity of skiers who arrive by bus. I do an 8 week ski bus, Jan - 1st week of March. So for many folks that is the extent of it. They aren't motivated to ski without their bus buddies. I just keep going.

2. Same as above but is for a multi-week ski lesson plan.

3. Many people without season passes, probably just budget a certain amount for lift tickets. And lift areas don't want to stay open just for season pass holders.

4. People do get involved with other activities. Not Unusual for me to ski one day and play tennis the next. A friend of mine gets all excited about bicycling.

5. The lift area starts to shut down their food services. And even though we get a lot of snow in the PNW, it can start to melt off real fast, week to week.

Skiing at Crystal Mtn., Wa, is major good right now. Crystal extended their season to April 16.
post #10 of 48
We have actually seen an explosion in March bookings and skier traffic in the Park City area the last few years. In fact, March (so far) has been busier than February. Go figure.

post #11 of 48
I noticed that traffic tapers off here in the mid-atlantic too. The sad thing is that the bigger resorts go heavy on the snowmaking and could easily make it to May in a good year. Last year Snowshoe WV closed in early April with a fairly deep base. There just aren't enough customers to stay open apparently. I don't get it; I would ski year round if I could.
post #12 of 48
A couple thoughts:

1. Around here (I live in the Boise area), the weather starts getting nice in late March. I will often see folks golfing when I come down from the mountains at the end of the day. There is a ton of snow (although not as much as the Cascades) and conidtions should be good for a while.

2. I am told that the Forest Service permits for some ski hills dictate that they cease operation by a specified date regardless of snow conditions.

3. Enjoy it while you can.
post #13 of 48
Soccer starts.

That's shorthand for parents and spring sports -- baseball, lacrosse, whatever. I know it isn't the case for everyone, but there is a sizable population affected by such considerations.
post #14 of 48
Same thing happens in Colorado. No great explanation, but there are plenty of great warm sunny days starting in late March (down in the metro Denver area) that probably pull people away from the slopes.
post #15 of 48
It's nuts. They all bust a gut to ski on a white ribbon of death in November, and ignore vast fields of white and sunshine in March and April. And then they rave on about how awful slush is. Whut? Slush is powder! It's great skiing. You can ski anything when it's corned up, bumps are at their most skiable then.
People are crazy.
post #16 of 48
Originally Posted by ant
It's nuts. They all bust a gut to ski on a white ribbon of death in November, and ignore vast fields of white and sunshine in March and April. And then they rave on about how awful slush is. Whut? Slush is powder! It's great skiing. You can ski anything when it's corned up, bumps are at their most skiable then.
People are crazy.
That about sums it up. I hate when an area closes with all runs in good condition. This will not be the case this year where I live.
post #17 of 48
Originally Posted by segbrown
Soccer starts.

That's shorthand for parents and spring sports -- baseball, lacrosse, whatever. I know it isn't the case for everyone, but there is a sizable population affected by such considerations.
Here it's lacrosse.
post #18 of 48
This has not been a normal March on the Pacific Coast this winter so I wouldn't go making it sound like March is like this every year. It is the coldest March I've ever seen here in California and the stormiest since 1991. Weather in Oregon stays stormier into spring longer than down here in California, however the same weather change goes on as the jetstream gradually shifts more and more to the north as the sun moves further north each day. March can vary greatly from year to year. Many times March is a month where storms become less frequent and sunny days become more common. Since the March sun is at a higher angle, it quickly turns the fresh snow from any storms into spring conditions. Spring conditions can at times be quite enjoyable, but there are few skiers that would trade it for good mid winter packed powder conditions. Thus as March turns into April the sun gets higher, spring conditions get more common. One serious problem with spring snow is that much of the day the slopes are either too hard and icy after being frozen at night or too slushy from being in the sun. So savvy skiers learn to ski around their mountains to work the better conditions. Some days conditions are pretty good for hours while other days in the spring after a hard freeze and chilling winds, a mountain might be a frozen wasteland all day. Skiers tend to avoid the lower elevation slopes and resorts and seek out the resorts at high altitude and good steep north facing slopes that maintain the good snows. One always hears the media and others wondering why skiers suddenly stop driving up to the mountain resorts while there is still several feet of snow. Like the snow depth is supposed to be the requirement as to whether skiing is worthwhile or not. Well it doesn't matter how deep the snow is if the surface is hard as a rock or slushy. Ski resort marketing people seem to resist giving a break on lift tickets until about late April. By that time they've lost almost all their customers except for the local mountain skiers. Resorts would be wise to offer more part day options in the spring so skiers might ski say just three hours while the snow is fine. A lot of skiers don't want to spend $50 for a few good runs just around mid day.

post #19 of 48
I think it's lack of patience and ADD.

People (myself) can't wait to get a good ski trip in. I've got to at least get in a week out west in January. I have a budget (time and money) for at least another trip, but some people don't.

Also, by March, as crazy as it sounds, people might be skied out. They've been 5, 10, or 20 times and that's enough for them. They don't feel the need to go anymore.
post #20 of 48
Originally Posted by shmerham
Also, by March, as crazy as it sounds, people might be skied out. They've been 5, 10, or 20 times and that's enough for them. They don't feel the need to go anymore.
BLASPHEMY!!!!!!!!!! :
post #21 of 48
As evidenced by the latest skier stats from the NSAA, the sport is still an upscale income sport so in the major markets thoughts change to golf, kayaking..what everyone has been saying.

"skiers leave before the snow does" comment I heard a couple of years ago from the marketing director of Big Sky when they closed with still good conditions on the mountain.

As with many people on this forum, just cause the lifts stop spinning doesn't mean the skiing has stopped.
post #22 of 48
For anyone with kids I agree with the point that soccer/lacrosse starts. Lots of people's last weekend is not dictated by the skiing but by the other commitments at home. We carve out winter to dedicate to skiing -- but when spring rolls around other stuff pops up at home. We are willing at this point to skip a few soccer or baseball practices for skiing - but as kids are high school age that doesn't work anymore.

A sad fact, but if your kids play other sports your season gets squeezed at the front and back. Luckily we are keeping them out of basketball and hockey or we'd never ski. Skiing is our only winter sport.
post #23 of 48
Last year my last day was June 5th. There were only about 20-30 of us on Whistler that day.
I don't understand why they did, but I sure appreciated everyone staying away.

A couple of weeks ago a guy I was riding a lift with said it would be his last day. I asked why, and he told me that golf was starting up, so it was time to put the skis away.

It sure makes a huge difference being in the West, though. I used to have to hang up the skiis this time of year, now I consider it about the halfway point in the season!

To move from the West to the East would be very painful for a skier, me thinks.
post #24 of 48
I am also very disappointed in this trend. Our local hill already announced that they will close after this coming weekend due to lack of interest.

I hope this weekend it will be warm and sunny at least. I want soft, slushy snow for a change. Last weekend the bumps (or whatever was left of them after the previous week's rains) were rock solid.
post #25 of 48

spring sports and other stuff...

I am not convinced that the casual skier really understands that there can still be good snow and good skiing once the lawns turn green at home. However, most reasonably knowledgable skiers are aware that there is still skiing to be had. However, as has been pointed out, there are conflicts with other activities and commitments. When my kids played club and HS sports, springtime meant travelling to soccer and lacrosse tournaments, and playing games on weekends. I used to have a boat, which required outfitting every spring. Kids sports pretty much ate up my sailing time, too, and I sold the boat. Then there is a lawn and gardens to take care of. Even now, with a daughter playing her last year of college lacrosse, we are following her team around on their east coast visits. We hope to make it to southern vermont for easter, but I expect that any skiing I do will involve hiking snowmaking glaciers for limited turns.

As they say, to everything there is a season....
post #26 of 48
The whole subject actually ticks me off to no end!

I'm just getting into the swing of things (I've got 15 days in so far), and I'm having one of the best seasons of my life and now Mt. Hood Meadows is going to shut down at the end of April, despite the fact that there's well over 200 inches on the ground (over 600" for the season) and it's still snowing.

I understand why they are doing it, but still ticks me off because theoretically we should be able to ski well into summer, and considering the lousy season we had last season I want to ski as long as I can.

Hope Timberline stays open (I know they run the summer camps, but hopefully they will still allow the general public).

Looks like I'll be getting into alpine touring this year just so I can go ski all the great snow that'll be on Mt. Hood way after the resorts shut down.

Speaking of Timberline...I had a blast catskiing Palmer this last weekend (not really backcountry, but none the less fun). Conditions were superb!
post #27 of 48
Thread Starter 
The demographic definitely has changed: looking at old pics, there are lots of people skiing in May/June here at Bachelor on the snowfield. There just isn't much like going up, skiing 2-3 hours in the morning, then going back to town and doing a great ride in the afternoon (or golfing, ect.). The price isn't much of a factor either in spring: tickets can often be had for $25, and 3 springs ago they had a Dannon yogurt coupon: buy 5 of the little 6oz Dannon Yogurts, get a ticket for like $10, all spring long!

I guess spring skiing has just fallen out of favor, similiar to the trend of general skier days increasing, but the "enthusiast" level skier (15+ days per year) demographic is dropping quickly (baby boomers aging, the newer generation being raised with more of a sedentary lifestyle). I do know that in past years, there have been a ton of Japanese here over Golden Week, taking advantage of the great snow. It gives me a chance to practice my lousy Japanese on the lift, so I don't make such a fool of myself when I go to Japan once per year.
post #28 of 48
Actually a couple years ago I hit a 5inch powder day at A-Basin on Jun 5th. All my friends thought I was crazy and I had to ski by myself but it was a blast. 60 degrees, 5 inches of fresh snow, skied Pali and the East Wall all day, a couple Fat Tires, hangin at the A-basin beach, babes, bikinis.... It was a good time.
post #29 of 48
My local mountain got 6" of snow today and tomorrow is their last day! The big mountain in the region, Snowshoe WV, got 11" this week and it's snowing right now. They close next weekend. I was up there Thursday and Friday, and it was some of the best packed powder of the season. Can't believe all these places are closing in such good shape. On some trails at Snowshoe, the base is a consistent 4-6 feet deep. I don't know how they plan to start the mountain biking season with all that white stuff on the hill....
post #30 of 48

Law of Dinishining Marginal Utility

It is hard for skiers to understand, but the law of diminishing marginal utility does apply to skiing.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › Skiing in/past March: why not popular?