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Special Report: Taking a look back at the 2023-24 ski season’s challenges and successes

(Update: adding video)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Central Oregon's 2023-24 ski and snowboard season started with a delay. 

“Our goal is always to open the day after Thanksgiving,” said Mt. Bachelor Director of Marketing and Communications Lauren Burke. “The last couple of years, Mother Nature has made that a bit more difficult.” 

Jillian Fortner is looking back at the 2023-24 ski season and how it compares to past years. Her report will air on NewsChannel 21 at Six.

Lack of snow in late 2023 led resorts like Mt. Bachelor, Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows to open in December. That month, Mt. Bachelor only received a below-average base depth of 25 inches.

Hoodoo Ski Resort had to wait even longer to open, postponing to January 10th. 

“If you remember January, it came in with a bang with a ton of snow.” Burke said. 

The average monthly snowfall in January at Mt. Bachelor is 82 inches. The resort received over 100 inches in January of this year. 

The first month of 2024 also brought ice storms which created dangerous driving conditions across the state.

"Our team up there was basically around the clock, working on de-icing our lifts in order to keep them running. We saw extreme icing from top to bottom on the mountain," Burke said.

Todd McGee, owner of Powder House Ski and Patio, said "Portland, Seattle, Eugene - everybody was iced in." said

Several employees at Powder House are avid skiers and snowboarders. Despite the weather challenges, they still would give the season a high rating.

"I mean, I had fun the whole time." employee Jake Korobkin said.

Other skiers didn't think this was a standout year.

"I think overall it was a meh ski season, for sure," said Mt. Bachelor seasonal employee Justin Serna.

Serna has been going up to the mountain since he was 2 years old.

This year, he spent the season working for Bachelor. During this time, he lived at Campfire Hotel, which offered housing to resort employees.

"I've had some really great runs for the season, but there wasn't a whole lot of days that were put together that were just fantastic," Serna said.

Since there are a few days left in the season, Mt. Bachelor has not yet released their visitor numbers.

"You never know what you're going to get," Burke said. "Mt. Bachelor has one of the longer seasons in the country. It's a six-month season."

According to On the Snow, Mt. Bachelor averages 400 inches of snow a season. So far, they have received over 380 inches this year.

"This year, we had many greater challenges in regards to weather than we did last season," Burke said. "Since February 1st, it's really stabilized the skiing, and riding has been fantastic."

Although most resorts have wrapped up their 2023-24 season, snow riders still have the option to ski at Mt. Bachelor or Timberline through the Memorial Day weekend.

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Jillian Fortner

Jillian Fortner is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jillian here.


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