With only a 9-inch base now, Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area needs another 12-18 inches of snow to get alpine ski runs open for the season.
“It depends on the consistency of the snow,” said Brad Wilson, who is starting his third year as Bogus’ general manager. “If it’s dense, you need less. If it’s dry, you need more.”
The forecast shows two storms will bring snow to Bogus this week — but snowfall estimates appear to fall short.
The first will pass through Tuesday night, and it’s expected to drop 2-4 inches, according to the National Weather Service. The second one will be Friday. That’s expected to bring about a half inch.
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Still, Wilson is optimistic that the ski area could open by Christmas.
Bogus Basin typically opens between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there are years when it opens earlier or later. The ski area is open before Christmas more than 90 percent of the time, Wilson said.
The latest opening ever was only five years ago: Jan. 19, 2012.
“There’s been no financial hit to us at this point,” Wilson said. “The Christmas and New Year’s holidays represent a significant part of our operating budget. It would hurt if we aren’t open. It’s not going to put us out of business. But we would struggle for the rest of the season.”
The ski area will be able to make enough snow to get the Coach lift open Friday, so beginners can ski and take lessons. Other attractions, including the tubing hill and soon-to-open alpine mountain coaster, will help Bogus offset losses of a late opening, Wilson said.
After the 2012 season, the ski area sought ways to diversify its revenue by expanding summer activities, including mountain biking, sight-seeing on chairlifts and bungee jumping.
Wilson said the ski area will be acquiring snowmaking equipment over the next couple years that will allow it to get open sooner when snowfall is lacking.
“We feel we need it to assure our season-pass holders that we’ll have a season that will start before Christmas,” Wilson said.
Other ski areas are open
Sun Valley Resort, which has a large snowmaking system, opened on Thanksgiving.
The resort now has 105 trails open (including Warm Springs, River Run and Seattle Ridge) on Bald Mountain (vertical drop 3,400 feet) and 14 on Dollar Mountain (628 feet), according to spokeswoman Kelli Lusk.
Tamarack Resort opened for skiing Dec. 8. The resort has three chair lifts and 19 trails open.
On Friday morning, they’ll open more.
“After several weeks of around-the-clock snowmaking, Tamarack will be opening our most popular trail – Showtime,” said Brad Larsen, spokesman for Tamarack. That offers 2,800 feet of vertical skiing.
Brundage Mountain’s Easy Street Lift was open the past two weekends, but an electrical failure in the lift motor Monday shut it down. The motor will have to be replaced, so it will be closed until further notice.
The storm coming through Tuesday may help get other lifts going this week.
“Snow-wise, we’re in great shape,” said April Whitney, a spokeswoman for Brundage. “We’ve been making snow down there, and right now I’m watching it snow. We’ve gotten almost an inch in the last hour. We’re hopeful that this storm coming through in the next 24 hours will help us get something open on front side of the mountain.”
Brundage’s average opening date is about Dec. 10, Whitney said.
“Everyone in the Pacific Northwest has had to wait a little bit longer to get rolling. That high-pressure ridge pushed everything back in the Northwest,” Whitney said.