RENO, Nev. (AP) –– Skiers and snowboarders enjoyed a final fling on the slopes Saturday as the Sierra Nevada skiing season came to an official close after one of the snowiest winters in more than six decades.
Boreal Mountain Resort atop Donner Summit operated one chairlift for the day, the latest date it has ever operated in the season.
Resort spokesman Jon Slaughter said hundreds of diehards, some wearing bikinis and T-shirts, turned out to enjoy the access to one run and terrain park.
“It’s utter excitement. People were real hungry to get out here one more time,” he said.
The resort reported receiving about 66 feet of snow this season, surpassing its record of 55 feet set in 1994-95. Boreal ended its daily operations in April and weekend operations in May.
It’s believed to be one of the latest dates a Sierra ski resort has operated in the season. Only a couple of resorts usually stay open through the Fourth of July.
Mammoth Mountain, just east of Yosemite National Park, was able to stay open until Aug. 13, 1995, after a heavy snow year, resort spokesman Daniel Hanson said.
“I think up high on the mountain there’s spots that could be open for skiing now, but there’s not enough demand for it,” he said.
Don Lane, who has worked for the U.S. Forest Service at Lake Tahoe for the last 40 years, said he can recall only a handful of years with such a dense lingering snow.
The deep snowpack has delayed the start of mountain backpacking and hiking for a month to two months, depending on the elevation, said Lane, a recreation planner for the agency. The popular Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe has seen few visitors so far.
“It’s still a white wonderland at the highest passes 8,000 feet elevation and up,” he said. “The lakes at the higher elevations are still covered with snow. From 6,000 feet to 8,000 feet, there’s starting to be more brown than white.”
The snowpack at its peak was the fourth deepest since 1946 at the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory near Donner Summit, and well above normal across the Sierra.
Boreal opened for the day to promote Woodward Tahoe, an indoor action sports training facility scheduled to open at its base next summer.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)