Eaglecrest Ski Area set to open Friday

More snow expected, followed by rain

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2001

Juneau didn't get the big dump of snow that was expected, but there's still enough to open Eaglecrest.

Sufficient snow fell or was made at the city-owned ski area to start running the Ptarmigan and Hooter chair lifts Friday morning.

"It looks good. It's definitely winter up here," Eaglecrest Ski and Snowboard School Director Jeffra Clough said this morning.

More winter may be on its way. While Juneau won't see the up to 14 inches predicted to fall by tonight, more could fall Friday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Carl Dierking.

The weather system expected to bring the snow also could bring warmer temperatures, so the white stuff may be mixed with rain, Dierking said. But it's not expected to warm up too much at Eaglecrest's elevation.

"It may get a little wet at the base there, but I don't think we're looking at enough rain to wash everything away," he said.

Eaglecrest will begin operating the Hooter chair lift at 9 a.m. Friday and start up the Ptarmigan lift, which carries skiers to the top of the mountain, by 9:30, said Business Manager Gary Mendivil. The rental shop, cafeteria and ski school will be open, although beginners' lessons won't start until the Platter Pull lift, the easiest on the mountain, has enough snow to run.

Some trails will be closed until more snow falls, Mendivil said. The tubing hill and lower Nordic trail also do not have enough snow, although part of the upper cross-country ski trail will be packed down for use.

The top of the mountain had about 75 inches of the snow and the base, near the lodge, had about 8 inches this morning, said Dale Gosnell of the Juneau Ski Patrol. We have limited snow cover throughout the mountain and there are hazards both marked and unmarked, so it's very important to ski with caution," he said.

Eaglecrest will remain open through Monday and operate on a Thursday-through-Monday schedule except for Dec. 24-Jan. 7, when it will open daily. This year's opening is far earlier than last season's record-late date of Feb. 1.

The heavy snow predicted for Wednesday and this morning fell elsewhere, meteorologist Dierking said. While most of Juneau got 3 to 4 inches, Yakutat to the north got 16 inches in six hours.

Heavy snow still could hit Juneau.

"If it comes, it could be 6 or more inches, probably earlier in the day Friday," Dierking said. "It could change to rain later in the day or afternoon."

Mixed rain and snow showers are predicted for Friday night and the weekend, although it's hard to tell exactly what will happen, he said.

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



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