Did you hear? It snowed a lot in the Sierra Nevada this winter. Unless you spent the cold months avoiding the news (we wouldn’t blame you), then you already know it’s a record-breaking season.
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, sister ski resorts north of Lake Tahoe, have tallied nearly 60 feet of snow this winter. At a slightly higher elevation, Sugar Bowl at Donner Summit hit 751 inches — 63 feet! — this month. Last week alone, Squaw reported three feet of snow.
Last Thursday, the National Weather Service announced the Northern Sierra Nevada region, comprising eight separate climate stations, achieved its wettest water year on record.
After years of drought and bad ski business, thing are looking up for places like Squaw and Alpine. They’re so good, in fact, that their CEO is seriously considering leaving at least one of the lifts open through the summer and fall.
“Gosh darn it, it’s been an incredible winter, an unprecedented winter, an incredible winter,” Andy Wirth joyously reported to Truckee Tahoe Radio on Saturday. “All the different words you can use preceded a lot of times by expletives. It’s just amazing.”
Specifically, Wirth has a vision of skiers riding up on the tram, hiking to the ridge line and skiing the back side of Squaw straight into the 2017-2018 season.
“I’m actually considering staying open through the summer and fall so it becomes the 16-17-18 season,” Wirth said. “We’re taking a hard look at that. Maybe we spin Shirley [a back-side chairlift] through the summer. There’s so much snow up there.”
The back side of Squaw also happens to be the west-facing slopes, which tend to be more windblown, but they also get more snow. The great thing about skiing the back side in summer is that you’re not going to get a face full of wind and you can take advantage of the lingering snow.
Guess it’s time to buy our summer ski passes.