Agostini: Snow volume means Dodge will be a 'go' through Easter

02/25/2009 12:03 AM

02/25/2009 12:52 AM

Skiers and riders up and down the Sierra awoke Tuesday morning to a most unusual sight -- sunshine.

Bright and blinding sunshine, that is. In ski terms, such winter perfection is called a "bluebird day."

"Our event calendar is filled. It's all a 'go' into April," Dodge spokeswoman Amber Jenquin said. "We'll even throw in some events, like rail jams and slopestyles that are not on the schedule."

That Dodge, the closest ski resort to the valley floor, stresses over snow -- or the shortage of it -- passes for business as usual. But there are no more worries this season. It has snowed at the Pinecrest snow playground an incredible 11 of the past 15 days.

Dodge, which has received seven inches in the past 24 hours, now boasts a healthy 6-foot base. Everything is open -- 33 groomed trails and four terrain parks.

It's now a certainty at Dodge and all other Sierra outposts: The volume of snow this winter will outlast the demand. For Dodge, this probably means full operation at least through Easter Sunday on April 12.

"We're pulling on all our employees because we've gotten a ton of skiers," Jenquin said. "Caltrans has done a great job keeping the roads clear. No one needed chains to get here (Tuesday)."

Saturday at Dodge, more than 400 supporters took part in the Ski & Board-A-Thon, the fund-raiser for the Society for Handicapped Children and Adults. About 160 handicapped children and adults enjoyed a day on the mountain, spiced by a free lunch and live music on the plaza and the mid-mountain lodge. More than $50,000 was raised.

"It was wonderful to see so many participants having a great time and at the same time raising money for a wonderful cause," Dodge President Sally Helm said.

The fund-raiser caught a break with some nice weather, one of the few sunshine windows of the last two weeks. Snowfall on Presidents weekend earlier this month made for some Sierra majesty but also resulted in some difficult conditions.

"For us at Dodge, the snow makes the temperatures cooler so it keeps the snow nice and fresh," Jenquin said.

More of the same was reported at Bear Valley off Highway 4, where 24 inches dropped from the sky Sunday. More is expected tonight and possibly through the weekend.

"The last storm was a warm storm, but it still snowed on us," Bear's Rosie Sundell said. "What many people don't realize is that Bear and Kirkwood are the only Northern California resorts with a base higher than 7,500 feet. So when it's raining at many places, it's snowing here."

Staying up to date on weather conditions always is a good idea, especially for valley daytrippers trying to time their outing for the day after a storm.

Meanwhile, snow still falls in the higher elevations. North Lake Tahoe resorts have reported nearly two feet of fresh snow since Sunday.

"For the most part, and to the delight our skiers and snowboarders, it has been a steady show of powder on top of new snow," said Andy Chapman, tourism director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. "And with March typically being one of our snowiest months of the winter, we're looking forward to it continuing."

SKI NOTES -- Dodge, which prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary next season, will hold its first Family Winter Carnival on Friday. "I grew up with a huge community ski culture and wanted to bring the carnival to the families of Dodge," said Dodge's Corby Fisher, who was raised in Steamboat Springs. Parent-child slalom races, one-legged races, obstacle courses, face painting, jazz bands and wine tasting are among the activities. ...

Heavenly, which has added 10 to 17 inches of powder in recent days, unveiled the new Jackpot Terrain Park on Friday. Jackpot, an advanced park, is located on the Jackpot and Canyon trails on the California side. ...

Numerous discounts and lift-ticket packages are available the rest of the season by visiting dodgeridge.com or bearvalley.com. Bear offers $12 lift tickets on four consecutive Tuesdays in March, beginning March 10. ... Snowfest, the 10-day winter celebration in North Lake Tahoe, begins Friday. Visit GoTahoeNorth.com.

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

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