OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Let ’em ski, let ’em ski, let ’em ski.
The Hurricane Ridge and Snowboard Area — bereft of white stuff all last winter season — reopened to about 150 skiers and snowboarders on both Saturday and Sunday last weekend.
And, the weatherman willing and the creeks don’t rise, they’ll be at it again Saturday through the following Sunday, Dec. 26-Jan. 3, said John Fox, mountain manager for the ski area.
“Things went great,” Fox said of the season opener.
“It was a great opening weekend, and we’re looking forward to more.”
The weather a mile above sea level was “very tolerable,” he said, “not very windy, just wintry.”
Ropes, yes; Poma, no
Those conditions were absent most of the 2014 holiday season, when the Ridge offered bare earth and brown grass to visitors.
Current snow depth at the ski and snowboard area was unavailable Monday but measured nearly 60 inches at the Waterhole Snotel site nearby.
That was 10 inches deeper than Sunday’s measurement.
Two rope tows were open over the weekend. Volunteers continue to groom the snow tubing area and to work on the Poma lift.
It needs 5 to 8 feet of snow to operate, according to Fox, which the area may attain by this weekend.
Even so, the Poma lift won’t operate because volunteers need more time to make it ready.
“We can only get up when the [Olympic National Park] road crews are plowing the road,” Fox said.
Most of the volunteers also have full-time weekday jobs, he said.
The Poma area also will need 20 to 40 hours of Snowcat grooming.
Two to four people set up and take down the facilities at Hurricane Ridge, Fox said.
Three to four ski patrol personnel oversee the Poma and snowpark areas. A total of 10-15 volunteers run the area each day it is open.
All vehicles must carry chains to travel to the Ridge, but a shuttle leaves The Landing Mall, 115 E. Railroad Ave., at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. each day the road is open and departs the Vern Burton Center, 201 E. Fourth St., 5 minutes later.
Return trips leave the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Fares cost $20 for adults, $10 or children 7-12 years old, free for those 6 and younger.
For reservations and information, call 360-460-7131.
The fares do not include individual entry to Olympic National Park, $7 per person 16 and older.
Park entry for vehicles costs $20 for a seven-day pass. An annual pass costs $40.
A lifetime senior pass costs $10 for people 62 and older, and passes for active-duty military or their dependents are free.
Ski or snowshoe
Other attractions at the ridge include:
■ Ski lessons that will start Saturday. For lesson registration and prices, lift ticket prices and season lift ticket purchases, visit www.hurricaneridge.com.
■ Snowshoe walks guided by ONP rangers start at 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays at the visitor center, where registration begins at 1:30 p.m. The walks will continue through March.
They cost $7 for adults, $3 for youths ages 6 to 15, and are free for children 5 and younger.
As for snow’s return to the Ridge, Fox said:
“It’s always good to see people up enjoying themselves. It’s a tough sell when you do it all for nothing” as last season showed.
“We get a lot of help and support from family members, some of them for the last 30-40 years.
“It’s a nice family atmosphere and small-town fun.”
Reporter James Casey can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at [email protected]