Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort is renowned for its dry powder snow but on Tuesday Peter Johnson, the ski area’s general manager, was celebrating slush.
Well, not slush exactly.
But the snow falling on the slopes earlier this week was rather more moist than is typical at the resort’s 7,100-foot base elevation.
This happens to be a rare situation in which warmer temperatures, and the wetter snow that comes with them, are welcome, Johnson said.
The reason is one familiar to any kid who has tried to mold a snowball, or construct a snowman, and had the endeavor crumble into something more resembling sugar spilling out of the gloves.
Snow with a higher moisture content is more dense than powder snow and can be compressed into a more solid layer.
And that’s precisely what’s needed right now at Anthony Lakes, Johnson said.
“Early in the season it’s ideal that we get some of these warmer storms,” he said. “It’s what we need to build our base.”
That base is about a foot deep — not enough to cover all the rocks and small trees, but a sturdy foundation for the snowstorms yet to come, Johnson said.
“The base is in really good condition,” he said. “It’s a fantastic start. We’re all ready to go — we just need more snow.”
Johnson estimates that another 15 to 20 inches of snow would allow Anthony Lakes to open at least some runs. The earliest possible opening would be next weekend.
As the resort enters its eighth season under the ownership of the nonprofit Baker County Development Corporation, no major changes are planned in the operation, Johnson said.
“It’s pretty much going to be business as usual,” he said.
Among minor differences, Johnson said the warming hut that debuted last winter at the top of the triple chairlift will be open more often this season.
The hut — actually a 24-foot diameter yurt with outside seating on a deck — will be open Saturdays and Sundays. Skiers and boarders can buy chili, burgers, hot dogs and a limited selection of beverages at the hut.
The Trailhead, the retail store Anthony Lakes opened earlier this year in downtown Baker City, will offer season leases of downhill ski and snowboard packages, Johnson said. Participants can buy the equipment after the season.
The Trailhead, at 1828 Main St., also will offer a ski or board tune-up, and a beverage, for $15 per person on Friday nights, starting Dec. 14, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.