Storms extend China Peak ski season


Approximately 7,600 feet above sea level and a couple feet off the ground, a first-time skier made her way down the slopes Monday with Huntington Lake in the distance.

The gray skies are a welcome sight at China Peak, an uplifting omen in an otherwise difficult year.

"Well, it's been a challenging season, but from Dec. 7 on, between snow making and what little natural snow we've had, we've been able to make a go of it," said Rich Bailey, the resort's mountain manager.

Man-made snow coated much of the mountain and snowfall filled it in. But as spring arrives, the warm ground melts away much of the new snow, despite temperatures hovering around freezing. And even though the snowpack is steady, a warm, dry winter has driven attendance down.

"The drought does slow down the people coming up here a little bit, but it's the same way throughout the Sierra," Bailey said.

While other ski resorts have already closed for the season, China Peak stayed open and they've been rewarded for their patience. In fact, they're hoping to stay through Easter Sunday. They'll have four ski lifts open this weekend and one carpet lift.

Like a snowboarder getting off Lift 6, the resort can wipe out the memory of a tough season with one final, good run. They're expecting a foot of snow or more in the coming days and frequent visitors are hopeful more people will check out the view.

"See how pretty it is, especially today with a little bit of snow and the snow in the trees and to be able to spend a day with your kid, so I kind of enjoy that," said Larry Silva of Clovis.

A forecast for lower temperatures and more snow could make these moments last a little longer, and let the resort ride out the season with a stronger bottom line.

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