After Thanksgiving we customarily do a snow sport season report with local resort openings. And things looked promising two weeks ago as Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton began making snow as they are at a higher and colder elevation. But that effort was for naught as unseasonably warm, rainy days followed. In fact it has been reported that a record El Nino could create one of the warmest Decembers on record. Not what skiers and boarders want to hear.
According to AccuWeather based at State College, this El Nino (which is warm Pacific Ocean water) is one of the strongest ever recorded. More so than the one that occurred in 1997-1998.
In the past, Blue Mountain and Bear Creek (in Macungie) ski areas normally look forward to a post Christmas day opening, as that day is their biggest and busiest of the season as kids, college students and some adults are off for the holidays. But unless we get cold weather for snowmaking, it may not happen until the new year.
In the mean time, here’s what downhill skiers and boarders have to look forward to at Lehigh Valley’s two closest ski resorts.
BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT
According to Jeff Zellner, Bear Creek Public Relations Manager, the resort has revamped their tubing park by doubling the capacity. They increased their number of tubing lanes from five to ten and have purchased brand new tubes. They’ve also changed their new session times to make them more convenient for groups and families.
Bear Creek’s snowmaking system was also upgraded by expanding their water storage and base lake area. They also made pipeline modifications to increase water capacity and added new, high-tech demo guns. Without a sufficient water supply, ski areas can’t make machine snow, which here in the southeast is often better than real snow.
If you go night skiing or boarding you will also notice a difference in slope lighting. In a five-year project, Bear Creek has replaced 25 slope lights with new LED lights that are 70 percent more efficient and a bit brighter. The plan is to replace all their slope lights with LED lighting.
For sushi lovers, a full Sushi Bar was added at the grille and will offer a full sushi menu with two sushi chefs. There will be daily specials and events at the bar.
BLUE MOUNTAIN RESORT
Having invested in snowmaking capacity over the last 20 years, over half of Blue’s acreage is now fully automated with the latest equipment and software. Over the summer, Blue Mountain added six new snowmaking pumps that increased their output to 14,000 gallons/minute. Says Melissa Yingling, Blue Mountain Marketing Director, “This impressive water capacity coupled with our 55,000 cfm of snowmaking air and latest automated technology, is sure to make this winter one of the best yet at Blue Mountain.”
If you’re planning on being a regular visitor at Blue, Yingling suggests purchasing a season pass online now as it saves money over the long run.
For more information and when the mountain will open for skiing and boarding, check www.skibluemt.com.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.