After fall forecasts touted a La Nina winter across the west, skiers and snowboarders expected to be on the slopes schussing in powder in December. But an atypical dry spell settled this month across parts of the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies — especially the southern ski areas of Oregon and Idaho.

Unseasonable blue skies prevailed across the region in the first half of December. The result has been cold enough temperatures for snowmaking in most places, but very little natural snowfall. Despite the grim absence of the predicted La Nina, the southern ski areas in Oregon and Idaho are still hoping to open before the holidays. There has been a dusting of fresh snow this week at some resorts and storms brewing in the Pacific hold the promise of more.

In southern Oregon, [R1672R, Spout Springs] has been grooming the slopes, but awaits more snowfall before announcing an opening. [R502R, Willamette Pass] also needs more snow before the resort can set an opening day.

[R264R, Mt. Ashland] plans to open Friday, Dec. 16. Three lifts are scheduled to operate through Sunday, Dec. 18. The ski area plans to close Dec. 19, but re-open for daily operation starting Dec. 22 and continuing through Jan.1.

In southern Idaho, [R87R, Brundage Mountain Resort] is fast approaching its second latest opening day of Dec. 21, which happened in 1989. The resort announced this morning that it plans to still hold its 50th anniversary Light Up The Night celebration with fireworks, live music, and dinner on Dec. 28, regardless of snow conditions.

“If we are not able to open before that event, it will certainly turn into the mother of all Pray for Snow parties,” Spokesperson April Russell said in the announcement.

Brundage Mountain

Brundage skiers and riders need at least one more snowstorm to be able to get on the slopes. Photo courtesy of Brundage Mountain Resort.

[R65R, Bogus Basin] plans to operate their Easy Rider carpet and the Coach Chairlift for beginners again this weekend, Dec. 17-18, with lessons available. Slopes are not available yet for skiing or snowboarding beyond Level 1. Also, Nordic lessons and tubing hill sessions have been postponed until more snow falls.

Several other southern Idaho ski areas need one additional substantial storm or more to be able to open for the season. Those include: [R225R, Magic Mountain Resort], [R316R, Pebble Creek], [R195R, Kelly Canyon], and [R412R, Soldier Mountain].

Sun Valley, Seattle Ridge

The Seattle Ridge Chair which tops out at Seattle Ridge Lodge begins operation Dec. 17 at Sun Valley. Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort.

Thanks to abundant snowmaking, [R440R, Sun Valley Resort] is opening more lifts and runs this Saturday. The resort plans to add the Seattle Ridge lift, among others, to bump the number of lifts up to eight on Mt. Baldy. The tubing hill on Dollar Mountain is also scheduled to open on Saturday.