In a high-altitude reflection of a couple of inches of promising slush at sea level, Juneau's Eaglecrest Ski Area finally got the fluffy white stuff it needs to serve the slaloming, snowboarding, tubing and sledding public.
"It's official; it's opening," said Eaglecrest Business Manager Gary Mendivil this morning.
The ski area received 4 inches of fresh snow at the lodge, giving it a total of 8 inches. On top of the mountain, Tuesday's storm dumped 6 to 8 inches, Snowcat drivers reported, bringing the snow depth there to 86 inches.
Avalanche control is being taken care of today. On Thursday, the ticket window opens at 8:45 a.m. Because the lower chairlift will not operate, the upper chairlift may open slightly earlier than its usual time of 9:30 a.m., Mendivil said.
"Only Ptarmigan will be open and some trails on the lower mountain will be closed" because conditions are still not optimal, Mendivil said. "We are asking skiers and snowboarders to exercise extra caution as there will be hazards both marked and nonmarked on and off the ski trails."
Eaglecrest typically opens by Dec. 1 and sees a lot of activity during holiday vacations, but missed out this year, the latest opening ever.
"We have no idea how much money we have lost this winter, but we are coming off two good years," Mendivil said. "Because our season pass credits were spread out over two years, we minimize losses. Only about 26 percent of the people who bought passes chose to turn them in for refunds. The ones who kept them will be getting a 57 percent credit for the following year."
News of Eaglecrest's opening was warmly received.
"Thank God!" said Alex Villanueva, 19, assistant manager at Boarderline, a snowboard and outdoor clothing shop. "I'm just glad people kept the faith and the snow came."
The snow came a bit late for Tom Mayer, one of the owners of Adventure Sports, which is in the middle of a going-out-of-business sale. Mayer was jubilant, nevertheless.
"I think it's wonderful that Eaglecrest is opening up. It's an absolutely wonderful thing and I am looking forward to going skiing. I hope they can stay open until the end of April," Mayer said.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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