SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA – Snow came early, then didn’t come at all for several days.
But even though fresh snow has been limited and staffing has been a challenge amid the pandemic, Lake Tahoe ski resorts are back to normal and happy with the season.
“It’s been a really good season,” said Sarah Roston, West Region Communications Manager for Vail Resorts.
It’s a sentiment shared by other resorts in the area.
Sure, the ski season isn’t over yet, but now that the temperatures are warming up and the Presidents’ Day weekend has passed, spring skiing is in the spotlight.
“It was great to start the season off with this massive holiday storm cycle that dropped over 14 feet of snow on the resort and allowed us to open with 100% of our land available for skiing/riding,” said Paul Raymore, marketing and sales director for Diamond Peak.
The huge storm in December provided an ideal base for the mountains, so the cover remained solid, despite the lack of storms in January.
“The snow held up really well despite the lack of snow we’ve had recently, although we were happy to have some new snowfall recently, of course,” Roston said.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe also benefited from the early storm. A challenge for the mountain can be road closures and wind, so dry January actually created good conditions.
“Heavy storms in December followed by clear, sunny days have proven ideal for good skier traffic this season. Clear roads keep drive-thru market visits steady,” said Mike Pierce, Chief Marketing Officer.
Still, the few storms in February certainly didn’t harm the resorts.
“Mt. Rose had a very good year with a record-breaking February. President’s weekend and schools in San Jose the following week showed high activity,” Pierce said. cold snow did exceptional business as locals were brought back to the slopes with a vengeance.”
Mt. Rose, Diamond Peak, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood all reported good ridership numbers.
“We’ve seen ridership numbers that are pretty consistent with what we’ve seen during the pandemic – but last season was a good year in terms of visits, so we’re not upset about that,” said Raymore. “As schools returned, we saw a shift to more typical visitation patterns – busier weekends and holidays with much smaller midweek numbers. Last season, with schools operating remotely and many workers working remotely, we saw a slight increase in mid-week activity compared to “normal”. This year, we are somewhere in between.
Vail is unable to give exact figures overall, for Western and Australian resorts attendance was down 1.7% from 2021, but lift ticket revenue was up 25, 9%. While those numbers reflect more than Tahoe resorts, Roston said she’s pleased with how Tahoe resorts have fared this season.
“Overall, we’re really happy with how this season has gone – we’ve been focused on delivering a great customer experience, overcoming challenges as a team (across all three resorts) and we’re look forward to finishing the season strong, with some really great spring skiing/riding in the mix,” Roston said.
Still, resorts have faced some challenges. December not only brought a record amount of snow, but also the start of an intense surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
“We were hit with the new Omicron variant some at Tahoe, but all three stations really sailed quite deftly – again, all credit goes to the hard work and resilience of our team members at all levels . They’re really the ones making the difference,” Roston said, adding that when employees were out with the virus, other employees changed hats to get the station moving.
Heavenly general manager Tom Fortune announced on Friday that the station has hired a senior health and safety manager.
“He is part of a team that is critically important to keeping everyone safe and healthy, as well as our employees,” Fortune said in a blog post.
Staff shortages, in general, have had an impact on stations. Roston said shuttle service suffered the most from understaffing, and Pierce said Winters Creek Lodge has been unable to have regular food service this season.
“One of the biggest challenges all ski resorts in Tahoe have faced this season is staffing, and Diamond Peak was not immune to this issue. With the cost of living rising rapidly over the past year (nationally and in the basin) it has become increasingly difficult for employees to find local housing, which is always a challenge,” Raymore said. “And with d ‘other regional employers raising salaries to attract talent, the entire ski industry has been forced to compete even more than usual to recruit excellent employees.’
“That being said, we still managed to hire an incredible team this year, and we’ve worked hard to continue to deliver the experience our residents and guests have come to expect at Diamond Peak,” added Raymore.
The stations are now preparing for spring.
“We are now approaching spring, which is one of my favorite parts of the season at Heavenly, and we can’t wait to end the season strong. We have a great base, and with the sun comes more live music and the cat DJ on the mountain. As of today, we are fully equipped to operate the lifts and terrain as planned – things may change, but we feel good where we are,” Fortune said in his blog post. .
With a storm predicted this weekend, Tahoe resorts could get an extra boost.
“Obviously, powder lovers would like to see more snow. And we hope that a Miracle March will refresh the slopes and make the off-piste areas skiable again. It’s happened many times in the past, so hopefully 2022 will be another one of those years,” Raymore said.
“Overall it was a great season,” added Raymore. “People always appreciate the opportunity to recreate outdoors in the fresh mountain air, and they are always thrilled to support a community-owned resort here in the Tahoe Basin.”