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  1. #1
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    Bleak Topic - Global Warming - What major resort will be first to throw in the towel?

    Sorry for the downer topic but the rollercoaster weather through the west this winter has me thinking...

    What major brand name resort will be the first to shut their doors due to climate change? When?

    My thoughts:

    Snoqualmie pass. Base at ~3000ft depending on which side of the freeway you’re on. Mid winter rain often kills snow quality/quantity.... How long before it rains more than it snows in January? Do we get 15 more years of the padded seats?

    Big Bear / Snow Summit. Base at ~7000’. They run off 100% snowmaking for the first half of the season every year. They get their the water from Big Bear Lake. If there is a long enough drought and I can imagine the state wouldn’t let them suck that lake dry.... with the last drought being 2016, they are kinda due for one soon....


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  2. #2
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    Resorts around New Mexico / Arizona are going to come up against how much they have to spend to make snow lower down each year. I would guess. Curious what locals like RaisingArizona think...

  3. #3
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    If Apache is considered major by the southern NM and El Paso crowd, that's my vote.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    Resorts around New Mexico / Arizona are going to come up against how much they have to spend to make snow lower down each year. I would guess. Curious what locals like RaisingArizona think...
    I don't know. Our base is at 9300 feet and honestly it seems like getting a decent base is becoming more regular with warming. Maybe we are seeing more rain events but when it snows it freaking dumps here. The nights are cold and Snowbowl has an agreement with the city that gives them x amount of water every year to make snow. With one of the largest population centers 2 hours to the south they can continue to stay profitable for a good while I imagine. This place is a cash cow now with the improvements and population growth. I don't really know though and my data set is really small with only 19 years living here.

    I think the smaller places at lower elevations will be the first to go. As far as major resorts it may be more based on financial stability more then location I'm guessing.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  5. #5
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    I would think one of the resorts in the east go first. Do you consider Snowshoe or Hunter big? The southern Appalachian resorts will go before that but I don't think they approach anyone's definition of big.

  6. #6
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    Second vote for Snoqualmie. Huge amount of snow that falls right around freezing. Would think that all the Vancouver North Shore areas are not far behind, along with lower places in Oregon.

    With areas like Snowbowl and Apache, it's more drought that will get them, not rain vs snow. Pajarito ran out of water this winter and could not make enough snow to open even though it was cold enough to make it.

    Many of those places in the Appalachians are operating today only through creativity and by finding efficiencies in their snowmaking.

  7. #7
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    Ski beech

  8. #8
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    Imagine how sick the skiing would be in N Ga, TN, and NC would be if they topped out at 9k feet instead of 5thousand something...

    Cataloochee prob first real one in NC to throw in the towel.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurch View Post
    I would think one of the resorts in the east go first. Do you consider Snowshoe or Hunter big? The southern Appalachian resorts will go before that but I don't think they approach anyone's definition of big.
    This. Without a definition of "Major Resort" I see the southern east coast dying first and fast, and I'm sure for many local employees they consider them "major" resorts.

  10. #10
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    Taos Ski Valley
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayPowHound View Post
    This. Without a definition of "Major Resort" I see the southern east coast dying first and fast, and I'm sure for many local employees they consider them "major" resorts.
    i assure you, none of us do.
    "somebody's gotta do it"

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirHeady View Post
    Imagine how sick the skiing would be in N Ga, TN, and NC would be if they topped out at 9k feet instead of 5thousand something...

    Cataloochee prob first real one in NC to throw in the towel.
    I’ve always wondered the same thing. If those bases were all 2k feet higher the conditions would be very different.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirHeady View Post
    Imagine how sick the skiing would be in N Ga, TN, and NC would be if they topped out at 9k feet instead of 5thousand something...

    Cataloochee prob first real one in NC to throw in the towel.
    I always thought they should have built the worlds biggest garbage pile in the Tug Hill Plateau of Upstate. Say, 8,000 feet tall. Imagine the snowfall. Building gnarly couliors would be tricky, imagine dodging broken washing machines instead of rocks.
    Forum Cross Pollinator, gratuitously strident

  14. #14
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    Baldy

    the resort at Mt. Baldy is already dead...

  15. #15
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    Snoqualmie complex has had many hard low snow years in the last decade it seems. Alpental can still get snow but you have to come down… I’d consider the complex as a whole a major resort, eh?

    Mt baldy is a big resort right?


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  16. #16
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    Kind of impossible to answer, but I wonder if any mountain ranges will actually get better in the warming world, i.e. more extreme/frequent storms. Does anybody know of any place where this seems to be true?

  17. #17
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    Outside of the U.S. I would imagine Coronet Peak in NZ with base elevation around 3500ft or Thredbo in AU with a base elevation of about 4500ft. On top of that the seasons in the southern hemisphere are much shorter.

  18. #18
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    I would bet everything in AZ closes within a decade or so. NM likely next after that, with Taos being the last one standing

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddgdl View Post
    I would bet everything in AZ closes within a decade or so. NM likely next after that, with Taos being the last one standing
    I'm guessing you don't have much experience skiing here.

    I think it's more complicated than that. Sure, Arizona and New Mexico are the simple and obvious immediate responses but there's more to it than pointing out the farthest southern south west ski areas.

    I'll use Snowbowl as an example since I'm familiar and I promise this isn't a defensive knee jerk reaction because it's been my home ski area for 20 years. If it closes I'm fine with that honestly. I'm at a point in life where everything "is what it is", I know that may sound dark to some but.....it is what it is!

    So, Snowbowl sits at an elevation between 9300 to 11,500. It's high and is predominantly north facing so it has great snow retention. The sun here is strong and the days are often warm but the nights are generally very cold giving them optimal conditions for blowing snow. The water for snowmaking comes from reclaimed waste water so even though we are going into critical drought conditions they are likely going to have water for many years to come. It's an incredibly successful little ski area now and is the only shop in town within a two hour drive of a massive population base. I compare it to Hunter in NY as far as cornering a market except here there is zero competition. Even if Mother Nature runs completely dry they can still be hugely profitable by making man made snow for the desert dwelling masses. It's a huge local economic booster so even as conditions become critical the local villagers are going to fight as hard as they can to keep the place open. The only way it would be shut down imo is if things get so bad that we are relying on reclaimed waste water for our basic needs. It's probably going to take a while before people are going to be convinced to drink their own piss and shit water no matter how bad ass those filters are.

    The ski areas that are going to go down first are the smaller operations that don't have a reliable source of water for snowmaking or any snowmaking at all, don't have a strong base to market to and are at lower elevations. Think Sipapu, Pajarito, Mount Lemon (already runs on life support from a wealthy owner) or Elk Ridge (closed years ago) in Williams, AZ. Shit, Sipapu, Hesperus and Pajarito could be argued that they already are on life support that's paid for by Snowbowl and Purgatory's success. Maybe that little joint in Utah as well. Colemans wealth is a factor too I imagine but as a stand alone ski area, Snowbowl rakes it in. Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if it's in the top five most financially viable ski areas in the country. I'm no expert but I bet this is comparable to ski areas in every state no matter how far north. Some will continue to hold on as others fade away because of the exact same factors.

    Taos I imagine will be holding on as long as they can, it's a classic and people aren't going to let go of it. It's high in elevation but I'd bet ya it doesn't make nearly as much money as Snowbowl does and I don't see much of a reason for people to vacation there if they are opened solely on their ski runs that have snowmaking. Taos is kind of in the middle of nowhere. There's little reason for Albuquerque skiers to drive to Taos for artificial skiing surfaces when Santa Fe (has a base elevation of 10,350 ft.) could have the same amount of acreage covered in snowmaking. In fact, I could see Ski Santa Fe's success becoming stronger as natural snow disappears, not Taos.

    California ski areas may be more volatile than AZ and NM resorts. They are mostly at lower elevations and already feeling the pinch of a changing climate plus Californias wildfire problem isn't getting any better.

    One thing worth noting is that as the weather patterns change we are seeing different sorts of storms in the SW. Yeah, sometimes it rains to the roof but a lot of the time we are getting much heavier snow, both in volume and water content. It's not like that cold smoke Colorado fluff where 100 inches of new equals 35 inches of base, it only takes 40 inches of snow to get that 35 inch base. So far I think we've had what? 75-85 inches of snow this season but guess what? It's set us up for a base that will last throughout the busy periods and keep the area opened until April. We don't need a ton of snow to be successful and truthfully, most people prefer warm and sunny skiing anyways! even though the weather is getting harder to predict and the pendulum swings are more extreme when we do get snow, we get some pretty intense storms. That aspect is still sort of the unknown. Imagine the San Juan mountains getting a snowpack that behaves more coastal, is warmer and has more reliable stability. That thought is kind of exciting, imagine the ski lines that would more regularly come into play.

    There's a lot more factors in this than who's the farthest south or where is it drying out the most. A lot will be based on an ability to create snow and if there's a market for profitability.
    Last edited by raisingarizona13; 02-09-2022 at 10:08 AM.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  20. #20
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    Bleak Topic - Global Warming - What major resort will be first to throw in the towel?

    The most notable trend over the past 10 years or so in CA is just extremes. When the faucet turns on we get these absolutely massive record breaking storms (200 inches in just 2 weeks this December) then it won’t snow at all for weeks or even months (6 straight weeks and counting at the moment).

    The warmer temps on average have raised the snow line much of the time so I was envisioning a day when a place like Squaw would only be skiable up top, but now with these extremes that deliver really cold low elevation snow I don’t see that happening anymore. It’s just going to be a boom or bust cycle moving forward I suspect.
    I ski 135 degree chutes switch to the road.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    The most notable trend over the past 10 years or so in CA is just extremes. When the faucet turns on we get these absolutely massive record breaking storms (200 inches in just 2 weeks this December) then it won’t snow at all for weeks or even months (6 straight weeks and counting at the moment).

    The warmer temps on average have raised the snow line much of the time so I was envisioning a day when a place like Squaw would only be skiable up top, but now with these extremes that deliver really cold low elevation snow I don’t see that happening anymore. It’s just going to be a boom or bust cycle moving forward I suspect.
    Yup, and that's going to weed out the weak regardless of longitude.
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  22. #22
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    Another thing worth noting is that even though say, The Arizona Snowbowl will likely continue to be successful in a drying and warming planet that doesn't mean it will be a place you or I care to ski or can afford. I often hear people say that they'll go ski wherever they can during these conversations but I secretly think to myself that this person doesn't quite understand the actual implications at play here. As more ski areas close skiing will become more excluded and crowded. You'll have to pay top dollar for a diminished "guest experience" to the point that someone like myself won't find it attractive any longer. It's already becoming like that. I'm not a huge fan of hyped up powder days anymore, it's just too much. Weekends? They're generally a nope for me, a pow day on a Saturday? Oh fuck no!

    During the Christmas holiday period Snowbowl had several days where day tickets were 250 bucks, at Snowbowl! People on Social medias were outraged demanding them to drop their prices because Snowbowl isn't worth those prices but I imagine these people don't exactly get capitalism very well because guess what? The parking lots were full. As the options become limited the demand will go up and so will the prices pushing a lot of us away from the sport.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    The warmer temps on average have raised the snow line much of the time so I was envisioning a day when a place like Squaw would only be skiable up top, but now with these extremes that deliver really cold low elevation snow I don’t see that happening anymore. It’s just going to be a boom or bust cycle moving forward I suspect.
    I can definitely see Mt. Shasta Ski Park having serious problems in the near future. There's already been multiple years in the last decade where they haven't opened at all due to lack of snow. Some of those years there was plenty of snow above Bunny, but the ski park just got rain all winter. I grew up skiing there and that simply never happened. Hopefully they can pivot to summer ops enough to be able to stay open and still offer skiing in the years it does snow.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisingarizona13 View Post
    Imagine the San Juan mountains getting a snowpack that behaves more coastal, is warmer and has more reliable stability. That thought is kind of exciting, imagine the ski lines that would more regularly come into play.
    this may be the only hope i have re:global warming/climate change

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by raisingarizona13 View Post
    . There's little reason for Albuquerque skiers to drive to Taos for artificial skiing surfaces when Santa Fe (has a base elevation of 10,350 ft.) could have the same amount of acreage covered in snowmaking. In fact, I could see Ski Santa Fe's success becoming stronger as natural snow disappears, not Taos.
    I think ski Santa fe has a limited / apportioned amount of water they can use each year for snowmaking. The future is bright, but not white.

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