Bare slopes at China Peak

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The only snow at China Peak is on the bunny hill. (KFSN)

The only snow at China Peak is on the bunny hill and plenty of beginners, including kids on winter break, are giving skiing and snowboarding a try.

But those conditions are not something China Peak Manager Tim Cohee is used to.

"This is something that in the 40 years of managing ski resorts that I've never seen," said Cohee.

He says that aside from the beginner run, and a tubing and sledding hill, the resort is hurting. Just as stores depend on Christmas sales, ski areas need Christmas snow, and it has not fallen.

"Christmas, New Years at a ski resort is the main event. You get ready to go and you get dressed up for that 10-day period when you miss that you then get into a point where your opportunities to have much of a profitable year become damn close to zero," said Cohee.

China Peak has been able to open its beginner slopes thanks to the use of these snowmaking machines, but right now it is too warm to make artificial snow and the impact of this lack of snow goes beyond the ski slopes.

"We've been doing the snow dance and prayers and all that stuff but so far it hasn't been working," said Kim Marks.

Marks manages the Pub and Grub at Shaver Lake. Just about every store and restaurant in town is suffering. She says the lack of snow has hit her business hard.

"Oh yeah, tremendously. Last year our numbers were probably 65 percent higher than they were this year because of no snow," said Marks.

At China Peak, the plan is to hang on as long as possible.

"We are probably going to operate daily, the beginner area and all of our support facilities through the holiday which will be next week with the schools out through the seventh and at that point we are either going to see some weather or not. So at that point, starting the eighth we will be making some tough decisions," said Tim Cohee.

Those decisions could include a temporary shutdown if it does not snow. But for now, snow lovers are making the most of what there is.

"I think its good they have the bunny hill open but they should have more open. But like, they haven't gotten any storms. I'm kind of bummed, but I'm skiing at least though," said Robbie Farmer.

For now, most of the snow on the slopes, and all of the snowmen in town are artificial.
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