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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday ó March 26, 2004


Soldier Mountain
closes early

Warm weather melts winter snowpack

Express Staff Writer

Due to unseasonably warm temperatures that have dominated Idaho this month, Soldier Mountain Ski Area north of Fairfield was forced to close earlier than planned.

"We want to thank you for a very successful 2003-2004 season," Soldier Mountain Manager Larry Davenport said. "I closed it last Sunday, and, when I did, I was second guessing my decision. After going up on the mountain today, I know there was no way we could have stayed open this weekend."

The lifts ground to a halt and the ski area was swept for the final time on Sunday, March 21.

Soldier Mountain, which does not make artificial snow, also got off to a late start this year. The opening was three weeks later than planned, but the moderately sized ski area cranked up its two double chairlifts and served up 1,410 vertical feet of predominately powder snow skiing on Dec. 18.

Davenport said he hasnít finished tabulating the seasonís ski numbers, but said they were up from the previous season.

"We had a very good year," he said.

One of the unique things about Soldier Mountain is that it typically has great powder skiing, and this season was no exception, Davenport said. Because the area is typically open Thursday through Sunday, storms pile up early in the week, and powder skiing is abundant.

"When you come down here on a Thursday morning, you can get face shots just about anywhere right off the lifts," he said. "You donít have to go up for the cat skiing."

Though snowpacks throughout Idaho were close to average throughout the winter, warm weather and a lack of precipitation in March have quickly pealed back the layers of snow. Where snowpacks hovered about 100 percent of average just three weeks ago, those numbers had dropped below 80 percent in the Big Wood and South Fork of the Boise river basins this week.

Soldier Mountain opened this year with two new runs on the mountainís steeper and shadier north side. Davenport said the new runs are considered intermediate to expert level terrain that will appeal to powder skiers because they are not regularly groomed.

"Weíre basically just trying to make the mountain more user friendly," he said.


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