Hogadon Ski Area has been battling the weather to get all runs open for the season, despite the heavy snows that have blanketed much of western Wyoming. But that isn't the only struggle for the city-owned ski area this winter. The economic climate has forced shorter hours in lift operations.

Hogadon, which is owned by the City of Casper, was forced to cut the hours of lift operations this winter. Lifts now run 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., an hour less than last year.

"Our city manager is very concerned about tax base eroding," General Manager Gary Vantrease told OnTheSnow. "Cutting back by an hour a day prevents us from running into overtime. No one is happy with it, but everyone understands it."

City taxes subsidize the ski area by about $200,000 a year. The remainder of the operating budget comes from season pass sales. An adult season pass costs $200. The cut in hours came as no surprise to passholders. "The decision was thoroughly deliberated since last spring," said Vantrease.

The ski area opened Dec. 11 with two runs and reduced price tickets. "We've had hardly any snowfall, and warm temperatures have prevented snowmaking," Vantrease said. "People are really happy, though, with paying only $15 for lift tickets."

Vantrease hoped to get 75 percent of the ski area open by Dec. 22, but the fickleness of the weather in the southeast corner of Wyoming may not help him. It's a frustrating situation for Hogadon skiers and riders that are watching resorts on the west side of the state get buried with midwinter conditions long before the holidays. "The Rockies drain out the moisture," said Vantrease. "When they get a foot, we get six inches. If we can get a northeast wind, we'll catch snow."

The resort relies on snowmaking to get the slopes open. But warm temperatures and a snowmaking pond that needs recharging from mountain springs prevent consistent snowmaking when temperatures do cooperate.

The ski area also converted to tickets and passes that can be scanned this winter to speed up ticket checking in lift lines and track lift usage. "The system posed hurdles with technology, but we're ironing it out," said Vantrease.

Hogadon runs its lifts Wednesdays through Sundays and daily during the holidays through Jan. 2. Regular lift tickets run $40 for adults.

More information. Or call 307-235-8499.