Despite a lack of snow that forced Phoenix Mountain Ski Hill to close early, staff remains optimistic about the future.
Chris Nason, area manager, said they were able to do a full opening just a little later than they were hoping.
“We were able to open up on Dec. 26, not Dec. 21 as was our original plan,” he said. “The snow situation was tolerable in the early season although it still wasn’t very high. We experienced this year four warm fronts accompanied by rain several times through the course of the season, which obviously eroded the snow pack and left us with much less snow than we could operate on in February.”
Nason said that the fact that it stayed warm and they weren’t able to save any snow removed any ability for Phoenix Mountain to operate safely in February.
The hill was fully open for January but closed down in February after several warm fronts.
It is too expensive to make their own snow, Nason added.
Phoenix Ski Hill is owned and operated by a public group known as the Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society (PMASS).
“Anyone who buys a season’s pass the year previous can apply for membership in PMASS, which is free,” said Nason. “So you take that season’s pass and turn it into a little bit of ownership of the hill and you become a member of Phoenix Mountain Alpine Ski Society and you are entitled to attend the AGM and are kept abreast of other hill developments.”
PMASS members can also volunteer to join the board and directors and get involved even more.
Nason said that despite the lack of snow, Phoenix Mountain still had some very good attendance.
“During operations, our daily visit numbers were actually higher than in previous years,” he said. “There were more people on the hill when we were open than in previous years. So that was fantastic. It was always a busy time at the hill. Lots of fun.”
Nason said the hill was able to run a full ski program for Hutton Elementary but were unable to do anything for Perley or Christina Lake schools.
Unfortunately, Phoenix ended up shutting down two days before the big Family Day free ski event.
“That was a huge hit for us,” he said. “We were expecting very high numbers. The day before that, we were supposed to host the Nancy Green Zone Race. (That’s) two very large events in a short period of time. We had lots of supplies brought up and were expecting large than expected staffing levels.”
Nason said the ski hill continues to be healthy and there are no plans on permanently shutting down any time soon, even with the lack of snow this year.
Nason said he does expect sales for next year to be down with people’s confidence dropping with the lack of snow.
“We’re going to be offering significant discounts next year for season’s passholders from this year,” he said. “In appreciation of their support for this year and in recognition for not having as many ski days this year as they normally would.”