Eaglecrest Ski Area opens for the first time of the season on Saturday. However, only one of the four chairlifts on the mountain will be running — Porcupine — from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Jeffra Clough, Eaglecrest Director of Sales/Marketing &Snowsports School, confirmed in an email Thursday afternoon Hooter, Ptarmigan and Black Bear chairs will be closed on opening day due to insufficient snow levels and snow quality.
“It’s not enough snow, but it also depends on the kind of snow we get,” Clough said. “If we get at the start of the season … the real light, dry snow, that is not as good for us as the snow that we’re getting right now, which has more moisture content. It’s heavier, it fills in much better and makes the base much better.”
On Thursday, there were 14 inches of snow at the base and 27 at the top of Eaglecrest, according to the National Weather Service. Overall, 31 inches of snow has fallen at the base of Eaglecrest in the month of November.
There were 27 inches of snowfall recorded at the Juneau International Airport last month. This amount is almost equal to the combined November snow totals at the airport of the last three years (10 in 2014; 17 in 2015; 3 in 2016).
Clough reported plenty of activity on the mountain over the past few weeks, as she and others fill out the seasonal staff and train them. Eaglecrest employs between 100-120 employees during the winter, about half of which work in the Snowsports School.
But there are also lots of smaller tasks to be completed before the first chair runs.
“It’s the little things that people don’t think about,” said Clough. “Are the lift tickets stocked? Are the cashiers trained and ready to go? Are there enough french fries in the freezer?”
Ski and snowboard rentals and lessons will be available out of the Porcupine Lodge. The Eaglecrest Grill and Mountain Lift Coffee stand will also be open. The Lower Nordic Trails will be packed and track set.
Dogs will not be allowed on the mountain or lower Nordic Trails during operating hours due to safety concerns.
Ski and snowboard lesson reservations can be made by calling 790-2000 (ext. 211).
The weather service forecasts a 50 percent chance of snow on Saturday afternoon for the Juneau area.
Even though some may be deterred from coming up without access to the entire ski area, Clough will be happy to see the ones that aren’t.
“There’s just a totally different atmosphere around here, a lot of smiles, and that whole flurry of activity that is happening now is just so worth it,” she said.
For more information on ticket prices, visit skijuneau.com.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire sports on Twitter at @akempiresports and on Facebook at @JuneauSports.