Eaglecrest Ski Area, seen above, is delaying its opening until colder weather and snowfall replenish areas affected by warm temperatures and heavy rainfall. (Courtesy photo / Chris Miller)

Eaglecrest Ski Area, seen above, is delaying its opening until colder weather and snowfall replenish areas affected by warm temperatures and heavy rainfall. (Courtesy photo / Chris Miller)

Eaglecrest holds off on opening as poor conditions persist

Cold weather and snow guns will help to ready the slopes for shredding.

Record amounts of rain in Southeast Alaska have delayed the opening of the Eaglecrest Ski Area once again, but hope is descending feather-light and whisper-quiet from cloudy skies.

“After receiving nearly 80 (inches) of snowfall in November, early December’s frightful weather diminished the snowpack and prevented Eaglecrest from opening last weekend,” said Eaglecrest marketing manager Charlie Herrington in a news release. “Like everywhere in Southeast Alaska, Eaglecrest was subjected to incredible amounts of rain, warm temperatures and strong winds, all of which contributed to significant snowmelt across the entire mountain and reduced the base snowpack from 30 (inches) to 7 (inches).”

[Juneau organizations serve up help for Haines]

Delaying past a projected Dec. 5 start date, ongoing heavy rains and warm temperatures have hit the lower slopes hardest.

“The mountain’s higher elevations fared better, but rocks, bare spots and other hazards persist as high as Easy Bowl and Ptarmigan Chairlift’s unloading terminal,” Herrington said. “West Bowl had numerous and deep avalanches, the largest we’ve seen in recent years.”

More snow and cold temperatures will be required, but the Eaglecrest staff are working hard to capitalize on that, Herrington said.

“Before Eaglecrest can open, we need more snow to replenish melted areas. The forecast shows a chance of scattered snow showers over the weekend, nothing big, but we are expecting cold temperatures to return,” Herrington said. “Mountain operations staff are preparing for a large scale snowmaking run on the Hooter Chairlift, using the pump house and pipeline installed in 2018. There will be snow guns, hoses, cables, and staff all over, so the Sourdough trail will be closed. Please use an alternative route to hike, ski tour or split-board.”

The Eaglecrest offices and ski shop are also open from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday for pre-fitting and repairs, Herrington said.

For the latest conditions, check out https://skieaglecrest.com/conditions/

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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