UPDATE: 11:18am Friday, April 22
Shirley is off mechanical hold and is open.
UPDATE: 11:01am Friday, April 22
Gold Coast is now open again.
UPDATE: 10:48am Friday, April 22
The Palisades are closed. The Funitel is now open.
UPDATE: 10:33am Friday, April 22
Gold Coast is also on a mechanical hold.
UPDATE: 10:22am Friday, April 22
All lifts are open except for the Funitel and Shirley. Shirley is on a mechanical hold.
UPDATE: 9:47am Friday, April 22
We are aiming for a 10am opening for the Aerial Tram and Wa She Shu.
UPDATE: 9:40am Friday, April 22
Lift Maintenance is at Wa She Shu working on replacing a sheave. We are hoping to open the Aerial Tram and Wa She Shu at the same time. The Funitel is not going to open before these lifts, and likely not soon. If you are in line at the Funitel, you may want to go elsewhere.
UPDATE: 9:29am Friday, April 22
Patrollers are almost finished performing avalanche control in the Wa She Shu area. When Wa She Shu opens, the upper mountain area will be ready to go as well.
UPDATE: 9:19am Friday, April 22
The Funitel is still experiencing an electrical issue at this time. It is marked as “closed” on the schedule, but we will open it promptly if we are able to solve the issue. Wa She Shu is still expected to open before the Funitel.
UPDATE: 8:35am Friday, April 22
Patrol is still performing snow safety on the upper mountain. Maintenance crews are still working on The Funitel, Wa She Shu, and Big Blue. Expect delayed opening for all the lifts on the schedule: The Tram, Wa She Shu, Gold Coast, Big Blue, Shirley, Mountain Meadow, Siberia, Granite Chief, Solitude and Bailey’s Beach. We will update with estimated opening times as soon as we have them.
UPDATE: 7:22am Friday, April 22
Overnight, we received 4 inches of snow in the base area and 6 inches on our upper mountain. The Winter Storm Warning from the National Weather Service remains in place until 11am, but we do not expect any significant accumulation throughout the day. Teams are currently working on all three lifts impacted by electrical issues: The Funitel, Wa She Shu, and Big Blue. We will have a status update soon.
Original Post: 9:41pm Thursday, April 21
What Happened Today?
Today (Thursday) started with the heaviest snowfall we’ve seen since December, and it was a long and exhausting day for our employees. After 5 inches of snow at the base and 8 inches of snow on the upper mountains overnight, we had Big Blue, Gold Coast, Shirley, and the Funitel on the schedule as of 7:45am. We estimated that these lifts wouldn’t open until after 9am due to whiteout conditions and low visibility. Twenty minutes later, as the National Weather Service predicted, lightning rolled into the area.
We immediately put all lifts on hold and also stopped all movement of personnel around the mountain: no snowcats, no snowmobiles, no skiing/riding for any employees that may have made their way to the top of the mountain for avalanche mitigation efforts. Power began to surge at the resort. Big Blue was the first lift to experience an electrical issue, just a few minutes after the lightning hold was put into place.
We decided to wait until 9:30am to see if the lightning would clear. If it cleared, we planned to continue avalanche control on the upper mountain. While all of this was going on, the Funitel also began to experience an electrical issue that was causing the logic controller to malfunction, likely due to the ongoing power surges. Funitel and Maintenance crews were working on the Funitel throughout the day, and as of 8pm, the issue has not yet been resolved. Our engineers are coming in early in the morning, and we are hopeful that we will be able to figure it prior to opening. We will update this blog when we know more.
At 9:30am, after reassessing conditions, we placed all lifts on indefinite lightning hold, as the forecast called for continued lightning throughout the day. We let our teams know that we would continue to reassess and if possible, we would send Patrol up the hill to perform avalanche control.
Two hours later, at 11:30am, we were continuing to deal with intermittent, unexpected power outages (not only at the mountain, but in the North Lake Tahoe region as a whole) and though there was not lightning right when we closed, the weather index showed a high probability of lightning throughout the day.
What To Expect Friday Morning
- Since we were not able to perform any avalanche control today, our crews are heading in at 6am to begin work on the ridgelines. Delays are possible given the volume of snow. More than 18 inches was expected just during the day today on the crest. We will put out an official snow total update on our Snowfall Tracker before 7am on Friday.
- Wa She Shu was one of the three lifts experiencing electrical issues today. We were unable to access the top terminal of this lift due to the fact that avalanche control could not be performed. We will commence work on it immediately in the morning, and we plan to open it, though it may be delayed.
- The Aerial Tram should be ready to go first thing in the morning (right at 9am). We will update this blog if the Funitel electrical issue is not resolved.
- On the schedule for tomorrow is The Aerial Tram, The Funitel, Bailey’s Beach, Big Blue, Gold Coast, Granite Chief, Mountain Meadow, Shirley, Siberia, and Solitude. Delays are possible for all lifts depending on the amount of avalanche mitigation that needs to be completed.
Whiteout conditions in The Village at Palisades Tahoe today. Captured by Grant Kaye
Is Any New Terrain Opening Tomorrow?
No. We are focusing on opening the terrain that is scheduled, which already is a tremendous amount of work for our remaining employees. Many staff called it a season in the end of March thinking that we would not be open much longer or get any further snow. This late season snowfall caught all of us by surprise, and the staff we have left will be working incredibly hard to open as much as possible as quickly and safely as possible. As we announced on Wednesday, this storm is going to help us extend our season through May 15th, but it will not allow us to re-open base area lifts that have closed for the season. We received significantly less snowfall at the base area (only 18 inches this month as of today) and we have nothing but warm spring temps (think 50+ degrees F) ahead in the forecast.
Will Alpine re-open?
No. In addition to some of the reasons listed above, we scheduled Alpine to close a few weeks ago when winter looked like it was over. This is a non-negotiable closure to begin work on our summer projects at Alpine. We have both a new snowmaking system going in at Weasel and timber clearing that we need to do for the U.S. Forest Service. Although we now have more snow, those plans are locked in and we need to start work on them to complete them prior to next season. We will be dedicating any remaining resources to keeping more lifts spinning on the Palisades side. For those of you who are wondering about the base-to-base gondola, we will be providing an update on that project next month.