News » Whistler

Snow allows some mountains to reopen

But many resorts remain closed or on standby after recent system



The recent weather systems that brought 83 cm of snow to Whistler between March 16 and 22, allowing Whistler-Blackcomb to go from 50 per cent of terrain open to 85 per cent, have had an impact throughout the province.

Grouse Mountain, which had operated with one run after the record rainfalls on Jan. 17, closed down a few weeks ago before reopening with limited terrain on Wednesday. The Screaming Eagle chair and Paradise Rope Tow are the only lifts running, and just four runs are open.

Mount Seymour remained closed at press time, but crews were on standby to reopen if the mountain received more snow. According to their snow report, "One good snow storm will allow us to reopen," and more snow is expected this week.

The situation at Cypress Mountain and Hemlock Valley is similar, with crews waiting for more snow before reopening. Cypress will make the decision on a day-to-day basis, while Hemlock is hoping to reopen the mountain along with the tubing park on Saturday and Sunday.

The Mount Washington Alpine Resort remains closed. Ironically, the resort received about 20 centimetres of snow last week during the mountain’s First – And Last – Spring Break No Snow Fest, which forced the resort to cancel planned events like mini golf and disc golf.

Resorts in B.C.’s Interior didn’t see as much snow as the coast, but Kelowna and Kamloops area mountains are in reasonably good shape. Big White has an alpine base of 201 cm, Sun Peaks Resort has 146.5 cm at mid-mountain, and Silver Star Mountain Resort is claiming a snow base of 188 cm, 128 cm in the village, with 88 of 101 runs open.

Mount Baldy, Apex and other mountains in the south Interior are also reporting good conditions.

Further east in the Kootenays it’s a different story. Red Mountain was closed for the season last week and remains closed despite the new snow and an estimated alpine snow depth of 125 cm.

Castle Mountain Resort is also closed for the season. The resort closed temporarily in late January, early February, but reopened in late February with new snow. A recent spate of rain before the most recent snow storm prompted the managers to close for the season.

Fernie Alpine Resort struggled in January, but things improved when new snow hit in February. The resort now has a 188 cm base, and 98 of 107 runs are open.

Resorts to the north like Panorama and Kimberley are open, while resorts in the Rocky Mountains, including Kicking Horse, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, are boasting some of their best skiing conditions in years.

South of the border, the Mount Baker Ski Area is running from Thursday to Monday this week. They received about 68 cm of snow during the recent storm, but previously were operating on weekends with limited terrain.

The Stevens Pass area was closed for the season this week. It was the mountain’s lowest recorded snowfall in the past 54 years, with only 26 per cent of the average snowfall this year.

The Summit at Snoqualmie Pass resort remains closed, but is prepared to reopen if more snow falls. The recent storm deposited less than 30 cm of snow in the area.

While ski areas in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and Colorado saw snow recently, their March snowfalls are still well below average.

The weather report for the coast is calling for more flurries and significant accumulations in the upper alpine, with rising freezing levels bringing rain to lower elevations. Whether the freezing levels will stay low enough and the system will bring enough snow to allow resorts on standby to open only time will tell, although March is typically a good month for B.C. ski areas.