Spooner Lake Ski Area suffers in drought | NevadaAppeal.com

Spooner Lake Ski Area suffers in drought

ERICK STUDENICKA

One more storm.

That’s what Max Jones, the concessionaire who operates Spooner Lake Cross Country Ski Area, said it will take for the beleaguered ski area to finally open for the winter season. Spooner Lake Ski Area is within Carson City’s rural area on Highway 28.

“If we can get 6 to 8 more inches of snow this weekend, we can do something with it and open,” Jones said. “All of the weather forecasts are looking pretty good.”

Jones said Tuesday’s storm dropped more than a half-foot of snow at the area’s lodge, but that wasn’t enough to open the area’s 80 kilometers of trails to Nordic skiers.

“There were 8 inches of snow, but when it was packed down (for grooming) it was down to about 2 inches,” Jones said. “There were still too many trouble spots.”

When Spooner Lake does open, it will mark the latest opening of the area since Jones began operating the site in 1986. In fact, since ’86, Spooner Lake has always had enough snow to open before Christmas. (The area was closed for most of February ’95 due to a lack of snow.)

With Christmas and New Year’s falling on a Saturday this year, combined with the public’s reluctance to travel during “Y2K,” Jones had anticipated a slow economic start to the 1999-2000 ski season. He’s optimistic that cooperative weather through April will allow the area to salvage the season.

“If we operate smart and have a good February, we’ll do OK – a good February can make up for Christmas,” said Jones, who noted he is making ends meet through the rentals of the area’s two wilderness cabins. “Tourism was already going to be down (at Christmas and New Year’s), so this hopefully sets us up for a good January, February and March.”

Spooner Lake isn’t the only cross country ski area hurt by this winter’s drought of snow. Tahoe Cross Country in Tahoe City – best known as the starting site of The Tahoe-to-Truckee Great Race – currently remains closed.

Tuesday’s storm did help the cross country areas that were only marginally open last week. For example, Tahoe Donner in Truckee has increased its open kilometers of trails from 22 to 100. Diamond Peak in Incline Village, with 15 kilometers of trails, is the nearest cross country ski area to Carson City that’s open.

The lack of snow has economically hurt the Tahoe cross country ski areas the worst this winter because, unlike the downhill areas, it’s not feasible for cross country areas to make their own snow.

For updates on the snow conditions at Spooner Lake, call the snow phone at (775) 887-8844 or look at the web site: http://www.spoonerlake.com.