Saturday, July 12, 2014

State ski resorts are adapting to mild conditions

February 20. 2013 2:10AM
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As the temperature steamed toward 60 this weekend, one thought doesn't immediately leap to mind: Let's go skiing!

Resorts in the Poconos and elsewhere must be melting in the faux spring, the runs awash in mud, you say. Managers must be cursing the heavens, you say.

But what do you know?

Ski season is going pretty well, said Ryan Werst of Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie, south of Allentown and about 55 miles from Philadelphia.

After less-than-frightful weather in early December forced a late start, most Pennsylvania ski areas report that business is not headed downhill - at least not yet.

They credit nighttime temperatures that were cold enough (below freezing) to build up a good base of snow and soften and freshen it when needed. That snow can hold them for about a week, until Mother Nature turns a colder shoulder to ski resorts and to neighborhoods where skiers live.

On the slopes we do have open, we can easily get through this warm week, said Rick Buckman, co-owner of the Spring Mountain Ski Area in Montgomery County's Spring Mount. But the challenge is people seeing a couple of 50-degree days and thinking we're not open.

When people do think of skiing, or tubing, or snowboarding, they come.

None of the resorts contacted would give revenue or attendance figures.

After the late start at Bear Creek, we got a week of snowmaking weather and we were able to open up, Werst said, adding that 20 of 21 trails are open.

Last week was one of the better weeks we've had in two years, said Chris Dudding, marketing director of Roundtop Mountain Resort in York County, about a two-hour drive from Philadelphia.

Of course, last winter didn't produce enough of the white stuff for even a mediocre snowball fight.

Last year was one of those years that started late and then it was very inconsistent, Dudding said.

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