When a ski resort closes while there is still plenty of snow on the slopes, it doesn’t make any sense to many skiers.
You might wonder, don’t they want to do more business and let skiers have fun on the mountain while the snow lasts?
But the truth is, there are several reasons why some ski resorts with snow close when the spring season approaches.
It can be a bit more costly to run a resort during springtime as the number of skiers hitting the slopes drop significantly.
With that said, let’s have a deeper look at why ski resorts close early even when there is still enough snow on the slopes for skiers to continue skiing.
Why Ski Resorts with Snow Close Early
#1. It’s So Expensive to Run Ski Resorts in Warm Weather
As the weather gets warmer, the number of skiers visiting ski resorts significantly drops. And those who visit expect discounts, so they buy the tickets for almost half the original price when the mountain resort keeps the terrain open with less snow cover.
This makes the resorts’ operations unprofitable, as they still have to pay their staff, ski patrol, and lift operators.
Not to mention the cost of slopes’ maintenance, snowmaking machines, insurance, water, and electricity bills, among other expenses.
In addition, most resorts do not own the land on which they operate, so they’ll incur extra rent bills when they extend the season.
So even if there is still an amazing snow cover on the slopes, it becomes a bit harder for resorts to run as the temperatures rise.
#2. Most Ski Resorts Rely on Seasonal Workers
Since most ski areas are operational during the winter season only, they don’t have full-time workers as this would lead to unnecessary costs.
Many resorts rely on seasonal workers, who are usually available for the job during the ski season and take on other jobs when the hot season approaches.
Unlike traditional companies that have the same workers all-year round, ski resorts have to hire new employees every season since they cannot employ people throughout the year.
And because many employees in ski areas are committed to other jobs during spring and summer, they cannot stick around even if the mountain extends its ski season.
If the resort plans to extend its season, it must hire new workers for the extra weeks since it’s not always possible for staff to extend their season in the ski area.
#3. Most People Prefer Day Trips during Spring-Time
In warm weather, most people opt for day trips rather than taking a ski trip regardless of how much snow is left on the slopes.
Many adventurers prefer other outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, mountain biking, and rock climbing rather than hitting the slopes in spring.
This means that only a few people buy lift tickets to ski in a ski area for a number of days or a week, even if the resorts are still open.
Ski resorts that remain open during springtime welcome more day-trippers than season ticket holders, which means less revenue or even loss.
#4. Spring Snow Gets Sticky and Slushy
If you have skied during springtime, you might have noticed that the snow is usually slushy and sticky when the temperatures rise, especially in low-altitude areas.
When lift pass holders book a ski holiday in a resort, they expect to find good skiing conditions, and this is not always possible with warm temperatures.
If a resort has to maintain better snow conditions on the slopes, it means they employ more labor to groom the runs for spring skiers.
However, the snow tends to melt faster than in early and mid-season, ruining the skiing conditions.
So, there is always a constant battle and too much work to distribute snow into the exposed areas that could hurt skiers or damage their skis.
#5. Every Ski Resort is Different
As with other types of businesses and organizations, every ski resort is different. Each mountain resort has its own goals and determination when it comes to how long the ski season will last.
They normally consider the previous year’s performance and the amount of snow available on the slopes to determine how long their season will last.
If the profits-to-cost ratio doesn’t make sense or show any benefits when the season extends, then there is no need to stay open longer than they should.
No mountain will continue to run for an extended period having made a loss or insignificant revenue in the past season. They are likely to remain conservative and close soon as the winter months are over.
Why Some Ski Resorts Close Early in the Day
When you are hitting the slopes in the evening, and the lift line closes as early as 3:30 pm or 4 pm, you may be frustrated, especially if you just started.
It might leave you wondering why the mountain closes so early while there is still more snow and great terrain to explore.
A friend of mine lives in Colorado, and while her favorite local resort is Beaver Creek, she is always mad that the runs close at 4:00 pm, even when there is enough snowfall and great conditions.
But we’ve finally come to learn the reason why many resorts close early in the day, and it’s totally understandable.
One of the main reasons why ski areas close early, usually between 3 to 4 pm, is that the shadows get longer at sunset, making it hard for a skier to descend the mountain with precision and safety at any speed.
The ski terrain is usually worse in the evening, as many skiers and snowboarders have run over and over again on the same slope.
Furthermore, darkness kicks in early in the winter, so there is a need to let skiers get their kids before they are stranded at night.
And if the slope users wait on the mountain to watch the sunset, it means that they will take longer to get to their hotels, and dusk may have set in before they arrive.
Closing the mountain early also allows the ski patrol to check the runs for any avalanche risks and rescue any lost skier or snowboarder.
When the mountain closes early, everyone goes to their lodging to prepare for après ski parties and events that happen in the mountains. You definitely want to refresh and relax after a long day of skiing or snowboarding.
If you are skiing or snowboarding in a resort that allows slope access late or at night, you should bring a head torch to avoid getting lost on the terrain or falling.
How Long Does a Typical Ski Season Last?
A typical ski season lasts for about 5 to 6 months. In Europe and North America, the ski season usually starts in November and ends in April or May.
In the southern hemisphere countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina, the ski season usually lasts from June to October.
So, if you want to ski throughout the year, you can visit the southern hemisphere when ski resorts in the northern hemisphere close.
Q: Why Do Ski Hills Close at 4?
A: Ski hills close at 4 to give the ski patrollers and snowmakers time to check the mountain and prepare the terrain for the next day.
Grooming the ski runs and finding lost slope users can take time, and the terrain has to be ready for use the following day.
Another reason why ski hills close at 4 is that the slopes are usually overused at this time, and there is no more fresh powder left on the runs. So, there is a need to groom the terrain as new snow falls on the ground.
When the mountain closes at 4, skiers and boarders get enough time to get to their hotels and prepare for après ski events.
Q: Why Do Ski Lifts Stop?
A: Ski lifts usually stop when skiers, especially kids, fall when exiting the gondola or chairlift. If someone takes a tumble along the way, the lift operator stops the lift immediately to ensure that slope users don’t run over them
Q: Is It Better to Ski in the Morning or Night?
A: Skiing in the morning is always better than at night as the snow is fresh and untouched. When you ski in the morning, you get to enjoy riding on freshly groomed runs with fewer people.
The snow is also usually looser and more enjoyable in the morning compared to the night when the surface gets icier.
Skiing at night can be difficult, especially if you are just beginning to ski, as there is minimal friction to control movement and speed.
Nevertheless, skiing at night can still be a lot of fun as long as you dress according to the weather and bring everything you need, from a head torch to food supplies.
Q: What US Ski Resort Gets the Earliest Snow?
A: Arapahoe basin usually has the most reliable early-season snow for skiers to enjoy in the US.
The high elevation and great snowmaking machines make it possible for the Arapahoe basin to have its terrain open in late October with perfect early-season snow.
If you want to be the first to hit the slope next winter, you can visit resorts like Arapahoe basin Colorado, Mammoth Mountain California, and Loveland Colorado.
If you love skiing and your favorite mountain closes soon as the colder months are gone, it can be incredibly disappointing, especially if you live nearby.
Nonetheless, it’s important to understand that ski areas must consider profitability to determine how long they can stay open.
If staying open for extra days brings no money to the business, it only makes sense to close soon as the winter season ends. After all, only a few people plan a May or June ski holiday in the northern hemisphere.
Apart from profitability, there are other problems with running a ski resort in warm temperatures, including more snowmaking costs, limited personnel, and poor snow conditions.