GLADSTONE - Despite rumors the Gladstone Ski Hill has been closed due to the area's mild winter, the city's assistant parks and recreation director said the hill has remained open since January.
According to Gladstone's Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Jon Swenson, nearly every part of the hill is operating, except for one of the tubing runs.
Snow will be made during evenings throughout the week; weather conditions must be perfect to make snow with the hill's three snow-making machines.
Jason Raiche | Daily Press
A group of skiers and snowboarders grab on to the tow rope at the bottom of the Gladstone Ski Hill recently. Despite the area’s warmer weather, the hill will remain open for business until the beginning of March, according to an official from the city’s parks and recreation department.
"We have to have temperatures below 20 degrees to make snow for at least a sustained period of time of five hours," said Swenson.
He estimates the facility has only received approximately three inches of "real" snow this year, but currently the hill has a base of 12 to 24 inches. The hill usually opens around mid-December, but this year's mild winter forced its opening to be postponed until the first week of January.
"We were about three weeks behind in opening, and then weather-wise temperatures have just been terrible across the nation for winter activities," he said. "We've definitely struggled with that."
Swenson said not as many people have purchased season passes this year, but a good number of daily passes have been sold. This year's after-school program has also been a little slower than last year, but still has some good participation, he noted.
"We'd like to get the word out there that we are still open, we're still accepting tubing parties, and we'll be making snow this week," said Swenson. This should make conditions at the hill good through the end of the first week of March, when the hill normally closes.
Swenson reminds people they can check the conditions of the hill by visiting the city of Gladstone's website, www.gladstonemi.org, which offers a link to a webcam of the hill.
"You click on it and you can see the conditions up here. That's something we've invested in so people can tell what the conditions are and see for themselves," he said.
The ski hill's general hours of operation are Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 4 to 8:30 p.m., as well as Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
For more information on the Gladstone Ski Hill, visit the city's website at www.gladstonemi.org.