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Ski area to open bunny slope

Snow predicted for Saturday, but rain is expected to follow

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2003

Eaglecrest Ski Area will open its beginners' hill this weekend, but the rest of the slopes will remain closed.

Staff made and piled enough snow for the Platter Pull lift area - known as the bunny hill - to operate 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lift rides are free and lessons will be offered at a discount. But elsewhere on the mountain, there's just not enough snow.

"We got that dry snow in here last weekend and with the rain that came in yesterday the hill is where it was a week and a half or two weekends ago," mountain manager Paul Swanson said today. "We want to do what we can here but we've just got to wait till we get more snow. There's no way we can open the mountain."

Today's weather forecast predicts a good chance of snow Saturday followed by rain Sunday.

Eaglecrest can open with 12 to 14 inches of packed snow at the base and 5 or so feet at the top of the mountain. But snow at the base is just a few inches, some trails have 3 feet or less and the top has 4 feet, Swanson said.

"I hate to be down but it looks like we're going to be setting another record here," he said.

Eaglecrest's latest opening ever came two years ago, when the slopes were closed until Feb. 1. The lifts and trails opened for a few days this year around New Year's Day, but closed because of rain. Swanson said there's no discussion yet of refunds or credits for season ticket holders as was the case in 2000.

Because of the lack of snow, the Juneau Ski Club-Alaska Marine Lines races slated for this weekend have been combined with mid-February's Alyeska Cup races at the Alyeska Ski Resort near Anchorage.

The idea of opening the short Platter Pull lift came from families that visited the slopes last weekend, Swanson said. Lift tickets are needed but are free, and lessons, offered at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., will cost $15. The ski and snowboard shop will be open for equipment rentals and adjustments. More information is available at 586-5330 or online at www.skijuneau.com.

Eaglecrest's Nordic trails also are in bad shape, Swanson said.

Marc Scholten of the Juneau Nordic Ski Club said some cross-country trails in the Dredge Lake-Mendenhall Campground area are useable.

"There will definitely be big puddles, but the well-drained road portions will still have a pretty consistent snow base on them," he said.

Scholten also said ski trails at Eagle Beach State Recreation Area still have snow, in part because the area is colder.

Warm weather and rain have shut down the U.S. Forest Service's two snowmachine trails. West Juneau's Blueberry Hill Access Trail, which connects to parts of the Treadwell Ditch and Dan Moller Trails, and the Lake Creek Trail, off Back Loop Road, have been closed to motorized use.

• Ed Schoenfeld can be reached at eschoenfeld@juneauempire.com.



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