Serious snow days at Sun Peaks, Harper Mountain

Sun Peaks has 340 cm of snow so far this ski season while Harper Mountain has seen 189 cm fall

An unprecedented snowfall to start 2020 is giving a boost to area ski hills.

So far this winter, Sun Peaks has received 350 centimetres of snow, which is 10 centimetres more than the amount of snow the resort received during the entire 2018-2019 season.

In less than 48 hours, beginning on New Year’s Eve, more than 60 centimetres of snow fell on Sun Peaks Resort, becoming one of the biggest snowstorms to hit Canada’s second-largest ski resort in recent memory.

“In terms of the snowfall, it hit Kamloops hard, it hit the mountains hard, from New Year’s onward, so it’s been a good couple of weeks up here,” Sun Peaks’ marketing director Christina Antoniak said, noting that through the first 20 days of 2020, Sun Peaks has received 154 centimetres of snow.

It’s well beyond the amount usually seen at the resort, given the 25-year average for the month of January is about 100 centimetres.

I”t’s been a much, much better snow year,” she said, noting last year was one of the resort’s lower snowfall years.

On average, about 500 centimetres of snow falls over the course of a ski season in Sun Peaks. As of this week, just 40 per cent through the season, the resort has received 65 per cent of its average seasonal snowfall.

“Things really took a huge swing, they did a 180 after New Year’s in terms of snowfall,” Antoniak said.

She said the amount of snowfall from October through mid-December was low and the number of skier visits was pacing a bit behind what they had expected to see in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

“And then we got some snow just before Christmas, which really topped things up nicely,” she said. [We] had about 40 centimetres of fresh snow going into the Christmas week.”

As of this week, skier visits are on par with last year’s numbers.

Just shy of 400,000 people visited the resort in the winter of 2018-2019. More than 400,000 visits were logged the previous winter.

Sun Peaks opened for the 2019-20 season on Nov. 23.

The alpine base hit a record-breaking 195 centimetres, which is deepest ever recorded for mid-January, Antoniak said. As of Jan. 20, the alpine base sits at 183 centimetres.

“We’re seeing a bit of settling in the snow depth and in the snow base now that the temperatures are coming back up,” she said. “That’s just the natural settling we see on a day-to-day basis.”

• Meanwhile, at Harper Mountain, 189 centimetres of snow has fallen on the ski resort during the 2019-2020 season, which is about 25 per cent above average.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much at this time of the year,” Harper Mountain general manager Norm Daburger said, noting the mountain normally has about 120 centimetres if snow at this time of year.

While conditions were decent through the holiday season, most of the snow came at the first week of the new year, he said.

Business this season has been good at Harper Mountain. Daburger said that while visit numbers are not tracked, revenue is up by about 50 per cent over January of 2019.

“It [the added snow] makes conditions awesome, which brings out a lot of skiers,” Daburger said.

Harper Mountain opened for the season on Dec. 14.

Michael Potestio / Kamloops This Week

Skiing and Snowboarding

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