Eaglecrest Ski Area made more money from early season passes this year than last, even though about the same number of passes were sold.
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Revenue from the sales increased by 16 percent this year over last, according to Eaglecrest officials. The additional revenue came from a $50 price increase.
Ski area manager Kirk Duncan said that last year's big snowfalls and this year's long-range forecast of a colder and wetter winter helped negate the price hike in the minds of skiers and snowboarders.
"It allowed people to say yes to this year's price increase," Duncan said.
About 2,000 people bought early season passes of all types, ranging from the regular $349 adult pass to the $149 child's pass.
"Considering last year's season, I thought we would have sold more," Duncan said.
The early bird rate ended Nov. 4 and the price of an adult season pass is now $499. Day passes cost $35 this year.
Duncan expects to sell 200 more passes before the season starts, and even more if the season comes early.
"The earlier we open, the more passes we sell," he said.
Lifts are scheduled to begin carting skiers and boarders to the Eagle's Nest and Mid Mountain on Dec. 8. If enough snow falls before then, the ski area will do what it did last year: open early.
Last Sunday, about 50 people used the ski area to ski, sled and snowshoe.
The upper mountain has a 36-inch snowpack, and skiers with the gumption to make the hike had fresh untracked snow for their effort. As of Tuesday, lower slopes held only 7 inches.
Duncan said that early season conditions are just fine for advanced skiers, but Eaglecrest needs to have good conditions on two or three intermediate or beginner runs before opening the lifts.
When that day will come depends entirely on Mother Nature. Duncan said he gave up listening to long-term forecasts long ago, but that the mountain is ready and the staff is in place.
"Last year they said a warm wet winter. This year they say a cold wet winter," he said. "We could open this weekend if we get a massive snow."
Contact Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or firstname.lastname@example.org.