Frequently Asked Questions
We usually open for the season between mid-November and mid-December. Our average opening day (based on decades of info) is December 6. However, each year is different and entirely dependent on natural snowfall and depth. Summit West opens first as it always has the best coverage.
About 18"-36" base depth.
Summit West is usually the first base area we're able to open due to its relatively smooth slopes (we try and get more base areas open as additional snow starts coming in). The amount of snow needed to open Summit West varies somewhat, depending on how much moisture is in the snow, but typically we're looking at a minimum of 18" - 24" of standing snow. If the initial snow is powdery and light in moisture content, we tend to need more snow as the grooming machines will knock a lot of the air out of it. If the initial snow is dense we can often get by with a little less. This is why we like our first snows of the season to be a bit on the heavier side as they build good base.
The other factor that determines openability of any slope is what's on the surface. If it's a mostly grassy slope with very little rocks, etc. and we've done intensive brush-cutting, then we only need enough snow base so that we're able to groom it. Our aggressive summer slope maintenance, brush cutting, and drainage improvement program helps improve the surface and reduces the amount of snow required to open. Of course, the rougher slopes or those with large rocks, brush, small trees, etc. require much more more snow before we feel we can create a skiing surface. Bottom line, there's really no finite number of inches of snow that determines what we can open, it always comes down to a final determination from our ski patrol and operations team using all of the above factors in the mix.
About 3-4 feet.
Alpental does generally need a bit more snow to open than Summit West, however, the good news is that Alpental does recieve and hold onto snow more so than any of our other base areas. The terrain at Alpental is very rugged, mostly due to its steep rocky terrain. We typically require about three to four feet of standing snow to cover up the numerous rocks, creeks, and other obstacles etc. Some windy snow storms in the mix really help move snow around all the obstacles though... Please note: the caveat to the amount of snow required to open does vary greatly, particularly when our summer hill maintenance is stepped up and we're able to accomplish more brush-cutting. Naturally, we love to get Alpental open as soon as we can as a lot of us who work here are huge 'Alpentalics' and enjoy the challenging slopes found at Alpental as much as the next skier or snowboarder!
In case you are wondering about Summit Central, it is generally somewhere between the other two in amount of snow needed. The terrain at Summit Central is more rugged than Summit West but not as rugged as Alpental. Again, summer maintenance, brush-cutting, etc. helps immensely in regard to opening scenarios.
Visit our hours page to view this seasons hours by base area.
Start of Night Skiing
Opening for night skiing depends on snow depth/conditions, but we aim to get it going by the first week of the December holiday break.
End of Night Skiing
Typically night skiing slowly tapers down by base area. Nights end at Summit West after the first week of Mark, then nights at Alpental end after the second week of March, then nights at Summit Central end after the third week of March.
The start of nights really depend on additional snow coming in, giving us a little more comfort with coverage due to lessened visibility at night. As far as the end date, it depends a lot on freeze/thaw conditions that start occurring in spring as well as the amount of new snow that we may or may not be receiving that time of year.
Basically, the way this works at The Summit is we typically close Summit West around the middle of March while Summit East follows a relatively close scenario as well but usually closing later in the month. Summit East's closure does depend somewhat on snow conditions and business levels so if we are having a really good spring, we sometimes look to give Summit East an extension. Summit Central normally stays open 7 days a week through the first week of April and then runs weekends until the middle of April. We typically run Central through mid-April and possibly longer depending upon conditions and rider interest! Alpental is normally our last area to close, we try to keep Alpental open through May 5th. Again, snow conditions and depth have a substantial impact on closing date.