RICHMOND, Cache County — A lack of early winter snow left many Utah resorts, like Cherry Creek Resort, with no choice but to fire up the snowmaking machines if they were going to open this year.
Cherry Peak got off to a later than ideal first day Monday after crews pulled off numerous swing shifts and all-nighters to get the mountain in good enough shape to open.
No matter how bad or good things are, there is always hope for more snow. "Yeah, more would be better. Then they could open the top lift," said skier Colton Ihler.
Two lifts are open now with two more in the works.
"We got a little bit late start to the season. Mother Nature has been challenging this year," said Dustin Hansen, Cherry Peak operations & marketing director. "Mountain crew has been working extra hard. We're just excited to have the lifts turning and we've seen a lot of smiles on the mountain today."
The machines have been running for weeks and they are still running 24 hours a day to get the upper lifts open in the coming days.
It's enough to make it happen for now, but only time will tell how things work out in the coming weeks.
"We are hoping and praying," said Hansen. "We need everybody to be doing their snow dance."
Hansen added they also need the help of skiers and snowboarders to keep things safe and make life a little easier on the employees.
"We call them the 'mask police.' We are going around and making sure," said Hansen.
That includes inside the lodge and the lines as well.
"We want to keep Utah resorts open and this is how we're going to do it, and making sure everybody's in a safe environment," he said.
Skiiers appreciated the resort's efforts.
"They're handling it good – really well," Cole Porter said.
"Yeah, I think it's the right thing, just to keep the mountain open for as long as possible," Sonya Birker added.
Snow and a little cooperation — that's the combination that Hansen said will keep them open.
Despite the late opening, he hoped Mother Nature can help out on the other end.
"To get that base to have a longer season is what we're shooting for too," he said.
Hansen said if the snowmaking continues to go well they could open the upper two ski lifts by the end of this week. Otherwise, they had a good turnout Monday and they are anticipating a busy season as more people look for outside activities.
"People are spending more time in the outdoors, and so we're geared up for a busy season, and we just need everybody to abide by the rules and COVID-19 guidelines that we have on the website," Hansen said.