Last winters record late opening at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area Jan. 19, 2012 left a mark on the collective psyche of Boise-area skiers.
Some fear an encore this winter, and that has depressed sales for season passes over the past couple of months, said Alan Moore, Bogus Basins general manager.
He joked that some wary skiers are reacting to last winters woes as if they are residents of Missouri, the Show-Me State.
Theyre saying, Youve got to show me the snow, Moore said.
Theres nothing hed like more, but Bogus hasnt received the big storm or even the series of smaller ones that it needs to open. The mountain has just a few inches of snow at its base.
How much snow it needs depends on the type of precipitation anywhere from 14 inches of heavy, wet snow to several feet of light, dry powder.
Bogus is ready to go, whenever Mother Nature cooperates. Staff has been hired and trained.
To spruce things up without spending a lot of money, the base buildings have been painted and signs updated. A school bus was donated by the Caldwell School District for use as a parking lot shuttle, replacing a trailer pulled by a tractor.
For the most part weve done everything we can do without snow, Moore said.
Snow school scheduled for Saturday was postponed.
WINTER NOT LOOKING AS DRY AS LAST YEAR
Moore remains optimistic about this season because the weather pattern that created last years dry conditions hasnt set up.
We had a high-pressure ridge just off the West Coast that was steering all of (last winters) storms off to the north, said Troy Lindquist, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Boise. We dont see that setting up anytime in the near future.
In the best years, the ski area is open by Thanksgiving. Its more typical for Bogus to open the first or second week of December. Being open for Christmas is critical to having a successful season.
Storms coming from the southwest will bring more precipitation to Idaho this weekend, but temperatures are expected to remain fairly high, meaning rain is more likely than snow at less than 6,000 feet. Boise might get as much as three-quarters of an inch of rain by the end of the weekend.
What Bogus really needs is a system from the north that can turn all that moisture to snow. Lindquist said forecasts show colder air coming in early next week, after the precipitation has passed and before the next round of warmer storm systems from the southwest.
Were pretty early in the cold season. Theres lots of time to accumulate snow, Lindquist said. Eventually were going to get some colder air.
LATE START AFFECTS BOGUS BOTTOM LINE
Bogus Basin gets more than 340,000 visits per year. The all-time high was 370,000 in 2001-02.
The budget for the ski area is about $10 million. Revenue was off about $2 million last winter because of the late start.
The bottom-line loss was about $200,000, Moore said, explaining that expenses were also down because of the late start.
Moore, the former vice president of finance, took over as general manager in February, after the retirement of longtime president/general manager Mike Shirley.
This past spring was a stark contrast to 2010-11, when Bogus ended the season with a $500,000 surplus.
Season passes on sale last spring were deeply discounted at $179, plus two passes for friends. About 19,500 were sold down from 23,000 sold in the spring of 2011.
Season pass costs go up as the start of the season nears. They jump from $389 to $429 on Saturday.
Moore said Bogus has debt of about $8.5 million, largely due to new equipment, such as the $5 million Superior chair lift installed before last seasons skiing.
When its running full-steam, Bogus has about 700 employees, including 35 full-time, year-round staffers. To cut costs, two administrative positions have not been filled, Moore said.
Were running leaner and asking people to do more, he said.
Katy Moeller: 377-6413