From left

From left

La Nina looms large over ski hill

Despite the dearth of snow the last couple weeks, Red Mountain lifts will be up and running on Saturday.

Despite the dearth of snow the last couple weeks, Red Mountain lifts will be up and running on Saturday, signaling the official opening of the ski season.

The encouraging dump of snow in November didn’t last and the recent snap of high pressure brought cold weather with little precipitation to the area. However, the frigid weather is not a bad thing, says Red Mountain spokesman Mika Hakkola.

“That last stint of warm weather before this high pressure system has actually been really, really good for us,” he said. “It firms up a nice solid base so any subsequent snow fall that we do see will be settling on a nice firm foundation.”

With the resort on solid ground, the upcoming forecast promises to make for a good opening day Saturday.

“The week of the 18th looks like snow every day, it looks like it may be a repeat of last year.”

After a slow start last season, it turned into a great snow year for the mountain.

“If everyone looks back in their memory banks to last year, it was over the Christmas holidays that it started dumping,” added Hakkola.

According to forecasts, the coming winter is shaping up to be another snowy one.

La Nina currents in the Pacific Ocean are expected to depress temperatures just enough to ensure that much of the winter rainfall in the valley bottoms comes down as snow instead, indicated forecaster Ron Lakeman from the Southeast Fire Centre.

“It doesn’t take much. A one-degree drop in the temperature can make quite a difference.”

As was the case with last winter, the La Nina effect is not expected to kick in until around Christmas.

But another La Nina year with above-average precipitation as the norm, should make for snow-packed, powdery slopes and happy skiers and snowboarders.

“I skinned up to the top of Long Squaw and went up on Grey three days ago, and the base was really good,” said Rossland skier Wayne Eyres.

In addition to attracting longtime locals and skiers from around the world, Red also employs about 200 residents over the winter, a significant number for the small alpine community.

“We are the primary employer here in Rossland and it’s great for the economy up here,” said Hakkola.

To what degree the mountain opens is yet to be determined.

Some runs may be closed and while backcountry touring has been great, the hill could use more snow up top, Hakkola conceded. Still, the crews have been out grooming the mountain and preparing for the season opening.

Lots of exciting new changes will greet snow hounds including a skating rink with nearby fire pit open daily until 9 p.m. on the plateau between Slalom Creek and Silverlode chair lift.

Red passes can be picked up during the day between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Check out Red’s website for up-to-date snow and skiing conditions at redresort.com