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Hemlock Resort has canceled the 2014/2015 ski season.
They made the announcement Wednesday after the forecast still showed no snow for the next two weeks. This decision falls hard on the local hill, which has been anxiously watching the skies since November.
"When you rely on what falls from the sky you take the punches that Mother Nature gives you," says Samuel Hicks, director of operations and human resource manager at Hemlock Resort. "At the end of the day, there's no snow on the ground."
The hill had its biggest snowpack in mid-November. Since then, the Pineapple Express has melted the mountain with consistent rain and temperatures in the double digits. In a press release, the resort states "warmer than average temperatures, heavy rain and negligible snow" led to the "regretful conclusion" to suspend operations for the balance of the season.
With a set closing date of April 4 and no snow forecast in the next 14 days, the ownership group made the decision to "stop losing money on a daily basis," explains Hicks.
Even if the snow did magically appear, staffing would be an issue now. The resort hired approximately 100 part-time staff, many of whom had already left the hill for other work.
"If we did open our doors, we wouldn't have the staff to turn the chairs," states Hicks.
Hemlock announced they will honour the 2014/2015 Seasons Pass holders for the 2015/2016 season, regardless of any potential price increases. Hicks says it's a testament to the ownership group being committed to Hemlock Resort for the long-term and the reaction from patrons has been strong.
"We've received great accolades from people for going above and beyond," Hicks told Black Press Friday afternoon, since every pass buyer signs a contract absolving the resort of responsibility for poor conditions.
Hicks says the closure does not change the future of Hemlock Resort.
"Our ownership group knows what they are doing and this is all part of the business."
Last year the mountain had poor conditions early on but managed to get enough snow for a late opening on January 16. In its 30 years of operation, there has only been one other time they failed to open, back in 2004.
For more information, see www.hemlockresort.ca