Nevada’s Toiyabe Range features excellent skiing, an old fashioned saloon and hot springs.
The end of ski season is always a bummer.
But it stings even more when the season ends while tons of snow still sit on your favorite ski area.
The West Coast winter of 2016-17 delivered historic levels of snow throughout the Lake Tahoe area and the Sierra Nevada.
And much of that snow is still slathered several feet deep over the slopes of West Coast ski resorts.
So that means we’ll spend our mornings skiing and afternoons drinking beers on the deck of our favorite lodge well into the summer, right?
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Well, not exactly.
Several Tahoe ski areas closed this past weekend and more plan to end their seasons Sunday. The final day of the season at Mount Rose Ski Tahoe is May 29.
If you’re looking for lift-assisted skiing in July, Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain are scheduled to remain open.
So why are resorts closing even though the ground is more than covered?
We called Tim Cohee for an explanation.
Cohee is the director of the Ski Business and Resort Management Program at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village. He’s also the owner of China Peak ski area and a former longtime executive at Kirkwood and Heavenly resorts.
First, Cohee gave the short answer.
“A very simple answer: lack of business,” he said.
However, the long answer is more interesting to those of us who want to wring every last ski day possible out of the hundreds of dollars we plunked down for a season pass.
The sad truth is that season passes just aren’t enough to justify the enormous cost of operating chairlifts, groomers, a ski patrol, parking control and myriad other resort features, Cohee said.
“Pass holders have already paid, so there is no more revenue from the pass holder,” he said.
And day visitor traffic drops off dramatically once the weather gets warm for a couple reasons:
• First, warmer weather means more options for outdoor activity such as hiking and mountain biking.
• Second, a ski resort day visit is expensive, so day visitors tend to want to ski or snowboard all day. And that’s not easy to accomplish in late spring.
“(Snow) becomes so hot and sticky it is…