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Lift closing hours

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Inspired by the Whistler trail closing thread...

Why do many mountains close a big portion of the terrain at 3pm? 

I can understand that in January, when the light is gone by 4pm. They don't want to leave anyone high up the mountain freezing their butt off after dark.

However in spring time, when the slope are bullet-proof until 11am, it makes for a very short day of skiing. I've resorted to skipping lunch and ski straight from 11-3 (by then the lower mountain that remain open are often a slush-fest). As a result, the mountain lost my lunch money! Not a lot I admit. But how many others are in the same boat as me? It adds up... 

Wouldn't the resort do better by extending the hours? 
post #2 of 6
In the east the day ends early, so they can charge for "night" skiing in the afternoon.
post #3 of 6
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

Why do many mountains close a big portion of the terrain at 3pm?

Wouldn't the resort do better by extending the hours? 

A lot of this does with orchestrating the end-of-day ski patrol trail sweep: a gradual "reeling in" of the terrain allows the patrollers to work their sweep and resort staff (lift operators, food service workers, etc.) to make their way down the mountain.  This is especially true in late season, when many resorts are running on more lean staffing, with fewer bodies to cover more terrain.  Think of some of the larger, more expansive resorts: at Vail, for instance, it makes logistical sense to close down Blue Sky Basin first, then the Back Bowls, leaving the front face for last.  Remember: the patrollers have an easier time spotting lost or injured skiers with daylight available.

There's also the economic factor: it costs money to keep lifts turning and staff on duty.  While many resorts can pull steady numbers of customers from first chair until the closing bell, quite a few resorts see a steep drop in skiers starting around 3:00pm, at which point it becomes less cost effective to keep every lift open (running the lifts uses electricity, and the lift ops are mostly hourly employees).  So some lifts and trails will be shut down to keep costs in check.  Ski areas are businesses, and they hate to lose money for any reason.
post #4 of 6
Here at Telluride, management moved their hours one later with the time change to daylight time. AKA the same time, one hour back, this was popular amongst the slush luvers
post #5 of 6
Sugarbush changes their hours to 10-5 for the last few weeks of the season.

Killington closes at 4:30 on weekends but doesn't open till 9. During the regular season they open at 8 on weekends.
post #6 of 6
The lifts should run until 8 as long as you carry a flashlight around
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