In the past 7 days, we’ve received over 5 feet of snow, and as of right now, there is no end in sight to the storm cycles. We’re already at 160% average snowpack for this time of year! Snowy weather is in the forecast for the next ten days with almost 100 inches possible at 8,000 feet. Winds have been roaring, and they’re going to continue to be a challenge throughout the next week. Snow has been nearly non-stop since mid-December now, so we are in a constant cycle of digging out and dealing with frozen chairlifts. This bodes well for a long spring season, though! Plus, some more good news: we’ve made some serious progress on Red Dog, which means both it and Far East will be opening soon.
Significant amounts of rain and snow are expected over the next two weeks, if not through the end of January. Within the next week, we will receive another ten inches of moisture (we’ve already received over 30 inches of moisture since December 1st). This means we’ll likely see snow this weekend followed by some more rain at the base, mainly on Monday and Tuesday, followed by several more cold storms. We expect wind impacts from Saturday through Wednesday. Here’s what Bryan Allegretto of OpenSnow is predicting in terms of snow totals:
Saturday to Sunday Storm:
- 7-13 inches at the base
- 13-17 inches at the mid-mountain elevations
- 14-19 inches up top
Monday to Tuesday Storm:
- 21-28 inches at the base (after a change to snow Monday night)
- 28-52 inches at the mid-mountain elevations (a big range as rain turns to snow higher up first)
- 52-62 inches up top
Behind The Scenes This Week:
It’s been a week of dumping snow, low visibility, and ripping winds. The whiteout conditions on the upper mountain were scary for even our most seasoned operations crews.
In high winds topping 100 miles per hour and low visibility, Lift Maintenance crews don’t just take the day off. They are out there in the elements, repairing lifts, de-icing them, or keeping them spinning.
This video, captured by Marcus Morgan, Lift Maintenance Manager at Palisades, shows the Solitude chairlift on Wednesday, January 4th during an intense and windy part of the snowstorm. It can sometimes seem like conditions aren’t too bad at in The Village at Palisades Tahoe base area, but videos like this are a good reality check for just how windy and dangerous the upper mountain can be in extreme weather cycles.
Red Dog + Far East Update
Before we get into all the details, we have something super exciting to show you:
Yes, that’s the new Red Dog lift with chairs on, spinning! All chairs are now on the line and all towers have been aligned. All wiring at the top terminal is completed as well. Yesterday (January 5th), the wiring was started for all of the towers, which requires teams to hike to each tower and hook up circuitry. There are 16 towers that will need to be completed.
Power has been established at the base terminal of Red Dog as well, which has allowed us to hook up the drive while finalizing all wiring and sensors at this station. Construction has been moving along quite well considering the conditions, and we remain on track to open sometime in mid-January.
As of today, we are 50 days out from our Opening Day and just 50 days away from the Palisades Tahoe Cup. As a stop on the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Tour, we’ll be hosting men’s slalom and giant slalom events on Dog Leg and Red Dog Face.
Video + photos below of Red Dog were taken by Blake Kessler.
So, what does this mean for Far East? Well, we are planning on load testing Red Dog on Thursday next week, so Far East cannot spin on those days. On Friday, Ski Patrol will also be doing evacuation training on the new chairlift, so essentially, we expect that Saturday, January 14th could be the soonest we can flip the switch on Far East. This assumes that there won’t be any maintenance issues on the chair when we turn it on, so please don’t take this as a guaranteed opening date. We will keep you updated.
Lift + Terrain Updates:
- We finally got Headwall fully broken free of ice, but by the time we get the chairs back on, it will almost certainly have to go on wind hold again. We are going to continue to actively de-ice this lift. We want to ride it, too, you know! It isn’t just closed for no reason.
- Crews have started on Oregon Trail, which is the access road for Silverado. It was too “low tide” when we tried this a few weeks ago, but wet storm cycles like we’ve been in are good for this area of the mountain. We’ll be working on access to Silverado during the day throughout the storm cycle. We will not have an ETA for opening until we get down there and see how the lift is doing.
- We are waiting for parts to arrive for Broken Arrow. It likely will be closed for another 2 weeks.
- The Funitel has occasionally been opening with a slight delay due to frozen cabins. Normally, we can store cabins in our terminals and prevent freezing, but there is a storage component that is broken. We are hopeful that we will get this repaired this weekend.
- Olympic Lady is fully dug out and we will run it if the winds allow. The top terminal does sit on a ridgeline and, being a lightweight two-seater chair, this can pose difficulties during storms.
- Subway is still on mechanical hold. A specific part had to be manufactured for this chair and we are working on it as quickly as we can.
- We still do not have an estimated opening timeframe for Alpine Bowl Chair yet. It has been a tough situation trying to source a very specific part that still has not arrived.
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