Eaglecrest Ski Area opened Sunday, much to the delight of area boarders and skiers who turned out in the hundreds for a shakedown cruise.
"By the count from the ticket office, it looks like 400," said Eaglecrest Business Manager Gary Mendivil, counting first-day skiers. "There were a lot of people who just came up as a dry run, you know, you have to find your socks, find your boots, find your gloves."
Lee Henry skied the Hooter run at Eaglecrest and then hiked up the West Bowl and went swooshing down. Though the experience was "awesome," the snow was thinner farther down the hill, he said.
"The snow as amazing. It was about thigh deep," Henry said. "But getting down to the base it was pretty 'sketch' with stumps and bushes and whatnot. You just had to pay attention."
Currently, only Hooter, the lower lift, and Platter Pull, the beginner hill, are open. The tubing hill and the Ptarmigan lift, which leads to the upper runs, still need more snow, said Mendivil.
"It's been a strange winter," Mendivil said. "Normally it starts snowing on the top of the mountain, but there is the same amount of snow on the top as on the bottom. There is actually sort of a ring around the top where there is only about 2 feet of snow."
To open the Ptarmigan lift, it needs to snow about 6 more inches, Mendivil said. According to the National Weather Service forecast, that 6 inches may be on its way. Forecasts called for snow this afternoon, Tuesday and Wednesday. Mendivil said he was expecting good skiing on New Year's Day.
Historically, Eaglecrest opens the first week in December, Mendivil said. This year's opening is a bit later than the average, but earlier than 2000.
Right now, with about 14 inches of snow, the lower runs have been packed by Snow Cats, and conditions are what Mendivil describes as "limited," meaning skiing is decent in the groomed area, but side trails still have some hazards such as shrubs and stumps.
Eaglecrest has started offering lessons, Mendivil said. Skiers can call the ski condition hotline at 586-5330 for updates, which are changed throughout the day.
The cross-country ski track at Eaglecrest has been packed down but won't be groomed until there is more snow, Mendivil said.
"I have heard that the Nordic skiing is very good," he said.
For more information on Eaglecrest, check www.juneau.org/eaglecrest/.
Julia O'Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eaglecrest Ski Area
Open for downhill skiing
Times: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Sunday this week.
Cost of all-day passes: Adult - $26. Youth (12 and up) - $18 Child - $13.
Ski-condition hotline: 586-5330.