John Cruz hit the slopes on Tuesday, opening day at Camelback Mountain Resort in the Pocono Mountains, and made the best of it despite a light drizzle and temperatures over 50.
“It’s not too bad at all,” said Cruz, 19, a snowboarder from Milltown, New Jersey, whose family has a home in the Poconos. “For the conditions they had to make it in, it’s pretty good.”
Pretty good will have to be good enough for several Pennsylvania ski resorts that took advantage of a brief cold snap this weekend to make just enough snow to open a few trails and terrain parks.
In the Poconos, Blue Mountain beat Camelback by a day and opened Monday, attracting 1,600 visitors.
“A slow start is better than no start,” said Blue Mountain spokeswoman Melissa Yingling.
In western Pennsylvania, slopes at Boyce Park, a few miles east of Pittsburgh, also opened Monday, and Seven Springs and Hidden Valley say they’ll be ready Wednesday.
Workers at Seven Springs built 15-foot piles of snow – dubbed “whales” – during a 55-hour snowmaking marathon and planned to spread them out overnight for Wednesday’s opening of three trails and two terrain parks.
“It’s limited. We’re not sugarcoating it. But everyone wants to get out there, and we are making it happen,” said spokeswoman Katie Buchan.
With high temperatures expected to climb into the 60s this week – reaching around 70 Thursday in eastern Pennsylvania – how long the snow lasts is another matter. Anticipating bare slopes, Blue Mountain is opening its summit ropes course and laser tag attraction to give guests something to do next week. Camelback will offer its zip lines and steel-track Mountain Coaster ride.
Ski resorts like Camelback have diversified in recent years to become four-season attractions, somewhat insulating them against mild weather in winter. This year, the resort debuted what it calls the largest indoor water park on the East Coast and a 453-room hotel that’s booked beginning Saturday.
But the lack of snow still hurts this time of year, when school is out and families are looking to hit the slopes.
“We’ll still lose a lot of business because we may not be open for skiing and snowboarding,” said Brian Czarnecki, Camelback’s vice president of sales and marketing. “The next several days don’t look great, and they don’t look great for anyone.”
There’s always January.
“The temperature will drop,” said Seven Springs’ Buchan. “We’re not worried that winter’s canceled.”
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)