Storms pack resorts with lots of snow

01/09/2008 2:47 AM

01/09/2008 2:53 AM

For those who waited for the good snow to fall, your patience has been rewarded.

The Sierra has been painted white by last week's windblown storms that doubled the snowpack and delighted skiers and snowboarders. All resorts, from Dodge Ridge at the lowest elevation to Kirkwood at the highest, now can do their business throughout the winter.

"This snowfall delivers a guaranteed ski base depth making for a record-breaking ski season," said Patrick Kaler, executive director of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. "Ski conditions today and throughout the week will be fantastic with all the fresh snow, open roads and clear blue skies."

We're not sure about the open roads and clear skies -- rain and snow still is in the forecast later in the week -- but we'll confirm the snow. It's suddenly deep and plentiful.

Kirkwood, featuring its 8,000-foot base, measured more than 11 feet of new snow, which doubled the resort's snowfall this season. Meanwhile, the resorts off Lake Tahoe's northern shore received six feet at the upper elevations.

Suddenly, powder-hungry skiers and riders are reaching for their equipment and heading to the hills. Here's an update from the nearest resorts to the valley:

DODGE RIDGE -- The four-day system produced 4½ feet at the base, and more fell Tuesday.

"It's been incredible," spokesman Dan Wyllie said. "We were pretty much sheltered from the blizzard on the other side of the ridge. We were able to stay open on Friday and definitely had some brave souls out there. The best snow came on Saturday."

With that, the Granite Bowl at Boulder Creek Canyon opened for the first time this season, bringing Dodge to 100 percent operation.

Customers already are enjoying the new Family Lodge and the connecting plazas with the rental center and the Creekside Cafe.

"The North Fork Bistro (on the second floor) is a popular place," Wyllie said. "The views are great toward Chair 6 and the learning area."

BEAR VALLEY -- Bear also remained open while the storm lashed through the resort off Highway 4 east of Murphys. The result -- a base of 5½ feet, courtesy of the four-foot dump last weekend, with possibly an additional foot during the last 24 hours.

Bear officials hoped to open Grizzly, Snow Valley and the rest of the lower mountain on Tuesday, but avalanche warnings caused a postponement.

"The wind created a situation where we had a wind-crowning, and temperatures went from 17 to 22 degrees," spokeswoman Rosie Sundell said. "That's perfect conditions for an avalanche so we'll try again (today)."

Elsewhere, the bountiful snow raises hopes for nice crowds for this weekend, and Martin Luther King weekend next week.

"This has been a just-in-time year," Sundell said. "We got snow just before Christmas and now before the big weekends. More snow is always good."

BADGER PASS -- About 10 to 12 inches have carpeted the valley floor of Yosemite National Park, which is about 4,000 feet lower than Badger Pass. The ski resort officials were encouraged by the approximately 16 inches which dropped on a four-foot base.

"It wasn't quite what we expected. We hoped for three feet, but we're fine for now," public relations manager Kenny Karst said. "Cross country is open, we have tubing, snowshoeing with rangers and the ice rink at Curry Village is open. The snow we did get was light and fluffy. It's a winter wonderland."

SKI NOTES -- Dodge will hold the Kelsdog Hot Dog Slopestyle on Saturday at noon at the base of Chair 1. The cost is $15 and the top prizes are new skis and snowboards. ... Diamond Peak, near Incline Village, will hold its Learn to Ski And Ride Week next Monday through Friday. For only $25, students receive rental equipment, a group lesson and a lift ticket based on ability. Visit www.diamondpeak.com.

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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