Woo hoo! Bogus Basin’s mountain coaster is ‘high thrill, low skill’
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area will be fully operational beginning Saturday, the ski area announced late Friday afternoon.
All terrain will be open and night skiing will be available at least through Monday. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the three-day weekend.
The Glade Runner Mountain Coaster will be open at night for the first time, running 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Bogus was closed Monday-Thursday this week in its first mid-season closure in 41 years. But the ski area has received 3 inches of snow in the past 48 hours and there’s more in the forecast Monday night into Tuesday.
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Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area will re-open Friday after four days closed, General Manager Brad Wilson said, but the alpine terrain will remain in early-season condition.
A string of snowstorms are expected next week, which could permit a full opening for the first time this season, but the non-profit ski area already has absorbed a significant financial hit during a ski season that has become “catastrophic” across much of the West, Wilson said.
[Below: See snow depths at ski areas around the West]
Bogus Basin’s closure from Monday through Thursday was the first in-season closure for the ski area since 1976-77.
“It’s that winter that we all dreaded,” Wilson said. “We’re going to deal with it, be open and honest about it and take care of our pass holders as much as we can.”
Bogus Basin’s base was at 20 inches as of Tuesday night. The rain Tuesday wasn’t expected to have a significant impact on the snowpack, Wilson said. He’s hoping the forecast for 2 to 4 inches of snow Thursday will provide a fresh surface for the holiday weekend.
At a minimum, Bogus will open its tubing hill, mountain coaster, Nordic trails and the Coach chairlift Friday.
“It was thin enough that we felt like we needed to let Mother Nature take control,” Wilson said. “It won’t take much snow to be back open for the holiday weekend. ... We had some good skiing there for quite a while. Eventually, we wore out that snow.”
He estimated that Bogus Basin generated about half of its usual business during the winter school break. The new mountain coaster, which has delivered more than 8,000 rides this winter, has provided a revenue boost, he said (rides are $15 single, $10 with a season pass, $10 for re-rides; passengers are an additional $10, or $5 with a season pass and for re-rides).
Bogus needs conditions to improve mightily over the next month, though — to increase revenue for this season and help the ski area sell season passes for 2018-19 in February.
“(The season) honestly will hinge on how our conditions are between now and our season-pass sale,” Wilson said. “... We have been very transparent about the fact that it’s early-season conditions and there will be obstacles and there has been limited grooming. But we have had thousands and thousands of people come up and enjoy the mountains for what they are.”
Last month, Bogus announced that it has raised enough money to install a snowmaking system. That’s a grant that won’t be affected by this winter’s sagging revenue, Wilson said. The hope is to have the system in place within a couple years.
“If we had snowmaking, we would have significantly better coverage on the trails we have open and it would be a completely different ballgame,” he said.
Snowfall amounts have been much better about 100 miles north of Boise, through Washington, North Idaho, Montana and British Columbia, Wilson said. But for Bogus Basin and many of the ski areas south of here, the winter has been a bust.
“It’s been a catastrophic year so far for most of the Western ski areas,” Wilson said. “There have been several ski areas ... that haven’t opened at all. This is not a Bogus Basin-centric thing. This is a Western phenomenon.”
Brundage Mountain near McCall is fully open with 29 inches at the base and 43 inches at the summit. Tamarack Resort near Donnelly has 36 open trails with 22 inches at mid-mountain and 38 inches at the summit. Sun Valley Resort, which has the area’s most extensive snowmaking system, is fully open with a 23-inch base that should get a boost from some fresh snow Tuesday. And Soldier Mountain in Fairfield hasn’t opened yet.
Sun Valley is offering a 40 percent discount on lift tickets in January for pass holders from other ski areas. Bogus skiers already have been taking advantage of their Powder Alliance privileges to ski at the Northwest resorts that have been getting snow. Of more than a dozen ski areas in the program, Bogus Basin pass holders have been one of the most active groups, Wilson said.
About last year
A year ago, Bogus Basin had a 51-inch base, Brundage had 56 inches at the summit, Tamarack had 48 inches at the summit and Sun Valley had 64 inches at the summit.
A look at the snowpacks at some ski areas around the West:
Deer Valley (Park City, Utah)
Heavenly (South Lake Tahoe, Calif.)
Snowbasin (Huntsville, Utah)
Mt. Bachelor (Bend, Ore.)
Snow King (Jackson, Wyo.)
Mt. Ashland (Ashland, Ore.)
China Peak (LakeShore, Calif.)
Jackson Hole (Jackson, Wyo.)
Silver Mountain (Kellogg)
Stevens Pass (Skykomish, Wash.)
Whistler Blackcomb (British Columbia)
Big Sky (Mont.)
Grand Targhee (Alta, Wyo.)