Downhill skiers and snowboarders might not have long to wait.
Like the rest of the city, Hart Ski Hill got dumped on overnight and all that natural snow combined with snowmaking operations are creating conditions which should result in an early opening to the season.
Peter Hoffman, outdoor manager for the Hart Highlands Winter Club, is keeping his fingers crossed. The cold winter-like conditions last week allowed him to operate the snowmaking equipment that’s now into its fourth year at the hill and although warmer weather conditions are expected later this week, Hoffman says they are weeks ahead of last year’s pace.
So while motorists and snow shovelers cursed the 15 centimetres of white stuff that fell early Monday morning, Hoffman welcomed it.
“That was awesome for sure, “ Hoffman said. “We’ve been making snow for the last four days and this little dump today is a good step. It does look like it’s going to get warm for the next couple days but we’re hoping not to lose too much snow.
“We’re hoping for a mid-to-late-November start for us, it would definitely be the earliest in a couple of years. We started around mid-December last year. The snow gun makes a big difference. It gives us a base over the whole hill, it doesn’t melt as fast and we can definitely keep the season going way longer than we ever have been able to.”
The pandemic outbreak in mid-March resulted in a provincially-ordered shutdown of ski resorts because of the worry of people gathering to wait in lift lines and the Hart hill closed down early as a result, even though excellent snow conditions lasted well into April. Hoffman said the HHWC is following provincial guidelines and COVID-19 protocols on social distancing and mask wearing will be in place this fall which should allow safe operation of the resort.
The club last year had close to 1,700 members and is on pace to sell even more season passes this year.
“We definitely have the potential for a long season this year,” Hoffman said. “We need five or six inches on the hill to be able to run the groomer without bringing up dirt. If the weather changes and it gets cold the next couple days and all that rain we’re supposed to get turns to snow we’ll be in really good shape.”
Hart Ski Hill is located 15 minutes from downtown Prince George at 3740 Winslow Dr.