SALEM, Ore. — It hasn’t been a good start to the winter recreation season in northwest Oregon.
Every time Oregon’s mountains start to build a decent snowpack, a system of warm rain has soaked it down to size
That’s left winter recreation in questionable shape heading into the holiday break, particularly between Mount Hood and Diamond Peak, where snowpack is 24 to 30 percent of normal.
Most of Oregon’s largest ski areas are open and running, but most of the smaller midelevation resorts have struggled.
“Every time we get enough snow and are about to open, it gets rained away a day or two later,” said Matthew McFarland, manager of Hoodoo Ski Area on Santiam Pass northeast of Eugene. “It has been pretty frustrating.”
Here’s a look at which ski areas are open.
Hoodoo Ski Area
The ski area is hoping to open today. It only has a 16.5 inch base, which could allow a very limited opening, but it will likely come down to how cold the temperature stays over the next few days, McFarland said.
“If it stays cold, we can freeze what we do have and get the snow-cats moving the snow from the parking lot onto the slopes,” he said. “If it’s too warm, the cats tear up the slopes and we can’t move anything around. So, we’re hoping for cold weather so we can at least have a product for people to come up and enjoy.”
The limited opening would just be on the lower mountain, while people could hike to higher elevations for more backcountry-style skiing. Snow tubing would not open without significantly more snow.
“Even at best, things would be very thin,” McFarland said.
Willamette Pass Resort
The ski area on Willamette Pass southeast of Eugene was hoping to reopen on Saturday. It held a limited opening last weekend before closing back down with just 14 inches of snow at the lodge.
“We will be evaluating the snow conditions daily,” the ski area’s website said. “Currently, conditions are very early season. Please use caution and plan accordingly.”
Mount Hood Skibowl
The lowest ski area on Mount Hood, in Government Camp, is open for snow tubing, but not skiing just yet. Daily tubing and nighttime cosmic tubing are open each day over the holiday through Jan. 5.
Mount Hood Meadows
The situation is better at higher elevations and the largest ski area on Mount Hood has 30 inches of snow base. They ski area is operating five of six high speed quads and is looking at opening Cascade Express with a little more snow, officials said.
The snow situation is good enough at Oregon’s largest and highest ski area. With 29 inches at base and 35 midmountain, Bachelor is open daily with 11 lifts running to 1,400 acres of skiable terrain.
The resort added the Early Riser quad beginner lift as well as the Lava Tube and First Rays carpets, all adjacent to our freshly renovated Sunrise Day Lodge.
This classic resort never completely closes, but it currently has 32 inches and four lifts running.