“Blower powder” makes poor base

Making snow at bottom of Ptarmigan.

Making snow at bottom of Ptarmigan. (Image courtesy the Ski Juneau website. Photo by Chris Miller)

It’s been snowing in Juneau all week – but has enough piled up to open the upper mountain at Eaglecrest?

That’s the question ski area operators are still waiting to answer.  The snow that’s fallen in Juneau this week has been dry powder, “but we’re still having issues with a lack of a base,” says Matt Lillard, Eaglecrest General Manager.

He’s been checking out runs off Ptarmigan and Black Bear lifts, and talking to hikers, who’ve been finding mid-winter-type powder. 

“It is really, really good in some spots and really, really thin in other,” Lillard says. 

The city-owned ski area opened Porcupine Lift and beginners’ trails on the lower mountain last Saturday.  At that time, Lillard said the upper mountain needed about two feet of heavy wet snow to pack into a solid base.  Instead, it got what he calls “blower powder.”

The big thing now is basically durability,” he says. “How many people can the mountain handle, if we’re running a chairlift? Those who have been up hiking have been telling us how great it is.  But will it hold up to a day’s worth of skiing?  I’m not sold on that yet.

Lillard expects  to have an answer to that question by Friday.

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