Skibowl 2015-16 Season Preview

Skibowl 2015-16 Season Preview

2015-16 Season Preview of Skibowl - By Terry Richard of the Oregonian/OregonLive

Which way will it go for Mt. Hood Skibowl this winter?

A return to bountiful snow, or a third winter in a row when snow is in short supply? Only time will tell.

Skibowl is the lowest of the Mount Hood ski areas, with the Lower Bowl bottoming out at 3,600 feet in elevation. Skibowl has always been through more rain and low snow cycles than resorts higher up the hill, at Timberline Lodge and Mt. Hood Meadows.

But there have also been times when powder skiing was so good at Skibowl that you didn't need to drive any further, since it's the closest ski area to Portland. It hasn't been that way recently, however, as Skibowl operated ski lifts only 11 days last winter.

"We ran the tubing hill 71 days and that really saved us,'' said Hans Wipper, resort spokesman, during last weekend's Portland SkiFever show at the Expo Center.

From a business standpoint, Skibowl has been able to withstand bleak winters because of how owner Kirk Hanna has expanded the summer business over the past three decades. He also has diversified by developing or buying lodging, restaurants and a guide service in Government Camp.

Skibowl has just about the most complete year-round mountain recreation offerings in Oregon, if only the snow would be a little more cooperative. Fortunately, when Skibowl was able to offer skiing last year it was during the Christmas holidays.

To get ready for this winter, Skibowl upgraded its water system by connecting to municipal water on its west side, like its east side had been. This allows for a better supply of water for snow making, so two more artificial snow guns have been added to the system. The new conveyor lift on the west side hardly got a tryout last winter, so it's waiting as though new to help beginners up the hill, especially snowboarders who had more trouble than skiers with the old rope tow.

The ski slopes have been buffed to the ground to remove obstacles, while the tubing hill has a 300-by-50-foot "blanket" to reflect sun and keep it cooler.

Other than doing everything it can to manage snow and offer the best winter experience it can, Skibowl continues to expand summer operations.

"We opened the Alpine slide for spring break last year,'' Wipper said. "That was a record. Our sumnmer wedding business has really grown and we've got more booked than ever before. And we just completed rebuilding a new bicycle trail from the top of Upper Bowl.''

As they say in the ski biz, they finished work just before the snow flies. Or at least that's what skiers hope. 

Check out the video: Mt. Hood Skibowl: fun despite low snow Having fun at Mt. Hood Skibowl, despite a low snow winter at Government Camp and Mount Hood.

-- Terry Richard
503-221-8222; @trichardpdx

Click here for the complete article by Terry as posted on OregonLive

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Mt. Hood Skibowl is an equal opportunity service provider and employer. This institution operates under a special use permit issued by the Mt. Hood National Forest, USDA Forest Service