Skiing at Hurricane Ridge to begin Saturday; park road to reopen Friday

PORT ANGELES — It’s time to wax the skis and snowboards and dance for snow at Hurricane Ridge.

With the partial government shutdown lifted for now, the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club has announced plans to open the rope tows, ski lessons and the tubing hill Saturday.

“We still have two full months of skiing the beautiful slopes of one of the most beautiful ski areas in the world,” club Secretary Roger Oakes said.

Olympic National Park has been closed this winter because of the government shutdown and damage from December windstorms. The shutdown, prompted by an impasse between President Donald Trump and Congress on funding for a wall at the southern border of the nation, is lifted until at Feb. 15.

Park officials plan to reopen Hurricane Ridge Road and facilities Friday morning. The Poma lift will not be open this weekend.

Open Saturdays

The mile-high Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area, which the club operates inside the park, is scheduled to be open Saturdays, Sundays and President’s Day (Feb. 18) through the end of March.

“We encourage all who love the ridge to support us in this truncated season,” Oakes said in a press release.

“We fully expect to have a great year albeit shortened, and we fully expect our future will be great at the ridge for years to come.”

The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club has two snowcats working to groom the slopes.

“The snow is looking good,” Oakes said.

“Our operations team has been up there readying our (rope tow) lifts and they are ready to operate.

“The Poma lift has a good snow cover but will take some cat work to prepare for its opening,” Oakes added.

In a Wednesday interview, Oakes said about half of the ski season was lost to the government shutdown.

Attendance typically dips in March as spring arrives, forcing the club to plan special events to keep interest up.

“We’ll probably run at a loss for the season, which of course is a concern,” Oakes said in a telephone interview.

The club, which runs a break-even operation that costs about $130,000 per year, likely will hold fundraisers to compensate for the shortened ski season, Oakes said.

Lindsay Fox, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce events manager, said the club is in a “dire financial situation” with a projected loss of $15,000 to $30,000 because of the shortened season.

“We need to let the public know that we are open and we need them to come up and play,” Fox said in a Tuesday email.

“We need them to buy season passes and day tickets like crazy.”

In a Wednesday interview, Fox encouraged winter recreationalists to support the club and “take advantage of the last few weeks of winter.”

The Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area is one of only three ski areas operating in a national park.

The Winter Sports Club’s executive committee gathered Monday to discuss the shortened season and decided to open Saturday.

“We are, and always have been, a bunch of optimists,” Oakes said after the meeting.

“That’s why we have perpetuated skiing at Hurricane Ridge for 60 years.”

Olympic National Park reported 55 inches, or more than 4 1/2 feet, of snow at the Hurricane Ridge sensor Wednesday.

Oakes said the snow is more than 5 feet deep in places and bare in other locations because of high winds.

He added that the “grooming will be good” when the ski hill opens Saturday.

Ski passes — including one-day and season passes and reduced cost tickets for just the bunny lift, the intermediate and bunny lifts or the Poma and all lifts, plus tubing fees — are outlined on the club’s website at www.hurricaneridge.com.

Weather permitting, Hurricane Ridge Road is scheduled to be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday and President’s Day through the last weekend in March.

The ski hill and tubing area is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

All vehicles traveling to Hurricane Ridge, including those with four-wheel drive, are required to carry chains.

Parking is limited. Guests are encouraged to carpool.

The National Weather Service on Wednesday was calling for a chance of snow showers at Hurricane Ridge on Saturday and Sunday.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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