By STEVE KNIGHT
You can plan a pretty “First Ever Third Annual Great Mount Titus North Country Global Cool Down Weekend Event” but you can’t predict the weather. Ski areas across the country are suffering from a lack of natural snow this season.
Mount Titus and Big Tupper closed this week for rain and lack of snow, respectively, but Dene Savage, Titus’s marketing director, said they are actually doing better than other mountains in the area, perhaps due to lake effect snow and a high base elevation.
“We are set for the season,” Savage said, “even without more help from Mother Nature.” Since much of their terrain is moist, manmade snow, one day of rain made no significant damage, even with three feet less natural snow than last year.
Big Tupper has no snowmaking equipment and relies solely on the natural snowfall. Bill Mozbzier, Big Tupper’s mountain manager, said they have so little snow right now that it looks like the trails were “spray-painted white.
“I’ve never seen a winter like this in my life,” Mozbzier said, “but you can’t fight Mother Nature or get bummed out.” Volunteers and donations maintain Big Tupper right now, he said, but that is likely to change soon with the construction of the Adirondack Club and Resort (see page 5 for more details) and investments in lodge renovation, trail maintenance and snowmaking equipment.
The Olympic Regional Development Agency (ORDA), which operates Whiteface and Gore, has kept both mountains open but hasn’t opened all the trails yet. Jon Lundin, ORDA spokesperson, said they make snow whenever possible with equipment that covers 98 percent of Whiteface in order to keep trails open for all types of skiers.
It’s hard not to compare this winter to last year, which was a banner year for ORDA as snowfall persisted throughout the season and patronage increased as the economy recovered from the recession, according to Lundin.
Lundin and Mozbzier said winter isn’t over yet as, February and March typically bring the most snowfall of the season. Mozbzier said last year they got five to six feet in those two months alone. “That’s my favorite time to ski,” Lundin said.
Other ski areas across the Northeast, like Windham Mountain in the Catskills and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, have taken longer than usual to open most of the trails. Students who work or have family that work at the mountains said low snowfall meant lower ticket sales and fewer work hours for employees.