MOUNT HOOD — Snow enthusiasts were able to give skis and snowboards an extra layer of wax as they waited for the Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort to open. Meadows’ season was delayed for a month while crews rushed to repair damage to Highway 35 from a mudslide.
About 2.5 miles of the highway were washed out or covered with boulders after a storm on Nov. 6. According to officials from the Oregon Department of Transportation, about 2 million cubic yards of debris washed down the mountain and onto the highway.
The closure of Highway 35 caused the delay of the ski season for Meadows, but not for other ski areas on Hood. John Tullis, marketing director for Timberline, says that Timberline operated at capacity during weekends and holidays throughout November. He says some of the crowds may have been due to Meadows’s closure. “It was one of the best early opener seasons in memory,” he says.
Warm weather sped up repairs on 35, allowing DOT officials to open it on Dec. 9.
But prior to the reopening, hundreds of Meadows employees were unable to come to work, and businesses in Hood River and Government Camp that had product connections to winter sports were also affected.
Mike Hay, ski department manager for Doug’s Sports in Hood River, says they lost hundreds of customers and between $10,000 and $15,000 in sales during November.
Now everyone is hoping that early snow will make for a long and busy season, making up for the early shortfall.
— Colleen Moran