Dodge Ridge waits not so patiently for one more storm.
A snow vigil this month is not uncommon for the Pinecrest resort located off Highway 108. Its average opening date varies between Dec. 10 and Dec. 15. Hopes rose after the storm two weeks ago, which dropped 20 inches of light dry snow at Dodge, resulting in about a five-inch current base.
Regardless, the waiting game continues.
“We’re having to wait a little longer,” Dode Ridge President Sally Helm said. “We’re so ready to open. If it snowed overnight, we’d open in the morning.”
A weekend storm system could hit as early as today throughout the Sierra. But in a season minus either El Niño or La Niña expectations, predictions on the weather become more dicey.
Dodge opened on Dec. 21 last year with five feet on the ground, a perfect rollout for Christmas and New Years. One year later, any opening day at all would be acceptable.
“We just need a nice Sierra snowstorm,” Helm said. “We’re a little behind, we are staying optimistic.”
Conditions are slightly better at Bear Valley in Alpine County off Highway 4 east of Murphys. Bear opens for every-day service on Friday, though only the Cub and Kuma chairs will be in operation. Its cross country center has been open since Nov. 29.
Bear was open last Saturday and Sunday with customers enjoying clear, brisk and sunny weather. It closed again before it resumes for good on Friday. Bear’s snowmaking capacity has helped.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who came out last weekend. People were excited about being out in the snow again,” said Rosie Sundell, Bear Valley marketing director. “We can open more terrain with another storm. Bear has its own special cloud sometimes. We’re counting on it.”
Meanwhile, Badger Pass at Yosemite National Park was forced to delay its scheduled Dec. 13 opening. California’s original ski area offers adult season passes for only $149, 65 percent off the regular rate, through Christmas.
Badger does open its cross-country ski and snowshoe services on Friday, however, with its cross-country excursions, lessons and rentals.
A new program this season is the Discovery Snowshoe Hike departing from the Nordic Center. Park visitors will enjoy a guided three-hour snowshoe hike featuring expert guides through fir and pine forests to Old Badger Pass Summit.
• STORE DISCOUNTS – Save Mart and Luckys supermarkets both offer discounted Dodge Ridge lift tickets for $58. For a list of all participating stores, visit www.dodgeridge.com/mountain-services/deals/
• BEAR VALLEY – Tubing will be available Friday at either Bear Valley or its cross country center. “We want to make sure to create winter fun for families this weekend,” Sundell said. Bear also features other discounts such as a $99 season pass for college students taking 12 unite or more (the deadline for that program is Friday) and free passes for all fifth-grade students every weekend beginning Jan. 4.
• CHILDREN’S LESSONS – One of Dodge’s featured instruction programs is its Intro to Snow for children from 2 to 5. It’s a two-hour one-on-one private lesson which includes rental equipment and a lift ticket for only $96. The Burton Learn to Ride program is for snowboarders of the same age.
• BADGER PASS – Discounted season passes are available for college students for $69, youth from 13 to 17 for $129 and from 7 to 12 for $69. New deals for midweek hotel stays, which include free lift tickets, also are available.
• PLATINUM PASS – Snowbomb.com presents its annual Platinum Pass, a $300 value which costs only $150. Its sets up free lift ticket tickets at Bear, Homewood, Sierra-at-Tahoe and China Peak and discounts at Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl, Diamond Peak, Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe.
• HERE’S JONNY – Former Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley, Squaw Valley’s chief mountain host, has scheduled free mountain tours at both Squaw and Alpine Meadows on Dec. 28 and Dec. 30.
Moseley will take participants on tours from 10 a.m. to noon both days at Alpine and from 2-4 p.m. both days at Squaw.
• SCALED-BACK PLANS – Squaw Valley, the host for the 1960 Winter Olympics, has scaled back is expansion plans.
Officials have decided to build fewer hotel-condominium units and have also cut back construction of new hotel bedrooms. Developers have reduced building heights from eight to seven stories and also reduced a year-round indoor recreation center that critics called “Disney-like.”
Conservationists remain unconvinced about protections for the wetlands, scenery and charm of the historic resort. Others hailed the changes as a positive step.
“I know that many people feared that Squaw was going to build an amusement park that didn’t fit in with our mountain,” Moseley told The Associated Press. “This (the changes) really gets it right.”