For the first time in nearly a decade, Mount Washington closed due to heavy snowfall, receiving more than 100 centimetres in 24 hours on the weekend.
A number of people were stranded overnight Saturday in the resort lodge, including a group of about 20 Boy Scouts. Another six to 10 visitors slept in the restaurant and other spaces, said Sheila Rivers, marketing manager at the mountain.
“Kudos to our staff,” Rivers said. “The Boy Scouts, for example, they arrived quite late. The staff were up and making them nachos at 2:30 in the morning. It was one of those nights where you see people’s maximum ability levels, where they are coming together and making sure that everything works out well, and having this nice community atmosphere up here.”
By Monday morning, staff were able to open three of the lower lifts — Hawk, Whiskey Jack and Sunrise — and one of the teaching carpets in the green area.
The Eagle lift, which runs to the top of the mountain and the backside, remained closed for avalanche safety.
Groomers have been preparing the nordic trails hopefully in time for Tuesday.
“It’s still on standy,” Rivers said. “It’s basically buried right now. They’re rediscovering the trails.”
The last closure, in 1999, lasted for three days at Mount Washington. Rivers notes another large snow event occurred in 2010 when the mountain was hit by a metre-and-a-half of snow.
“We didn’t actually have to close at that point,” she said. “Not all storms are created equal. We had to close this time due to the consistency of the storm and the snow, and we had a bunch of naturally occurring avalanches. That was obviously our largest issue was safety of our guests.”
In terms of visitation loss, Rivers said it was not comparable to what the mountain would have lost had an avalanche occurred in bounds.
“It was really safety first. I don’t think it’s something we can monetize.”