December 4, 2001
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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The Nugget Newspaper
Sisters, Oregon
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Hoodoo Ski Area opens for the season
By Craig F. Eisenbeis

Ski season has arrived...

Hoodoo, the popular family ski area at the top of Santiam Pass, opened as scheduled on Friday, November 30, and there was plenty of the stuff that skiers like best -- snow.

Lots and lots and lots of snow.

In fact, by the end of opening weekend, the reported snow base was more than 4-1/2 feet.

Forecasts call for even more snow in the coming week -- a prospect that has skiers elated, especially after last year's sub-par snow year.

"This weekend has really been a whirlwind," said Hoodoo General Manager, Tasha McFarland. "We've been having to plow our parking lot like mad in order to keep up with the four feet (of snow) we've received...."

It was more than a metaphoric whirlwind that McFarland spoke of.

On Saturday, the summit lift had to be shut down due to high winds, including one gust that reached 75 mph.

Then, on Sunday, a transformer blew out on the red chair closing that lift at least through the early part of this week. She hoped that the red chair would be back in operation by press time.

Through it all, McFarland was definitely upbeat.

"We're getting a lot of snow, and everyone seems to be having a great time," she said. "We're opening two weeks earlier than we did last year."

The optimistic McFarland is sure that the season is off to an auspicious start.

"The early, heavy snow with a high moisture content has helped us build a great base with good coverage, and we're expecting more light, fluffy stuff. With so much snow, we're expecting to have no problem opening our Hodag chair this Friday."

The Hodag Chair is one of the ski area's recent improvements, which opened up new runs on the northwest side of the mountain.

The lift is named for Hoodoo's mythical mascot, the Hodag, which looks kind of like a wacky, green juvenile dinosaur.

Meanwhile, progress continues on Hoodoo's extensive list of other capital improvements.

Most obvious is the gigantic new lodge that is under construction.

Hoodoo officials said that workers are putting in overtime to have a large portion of the new main lodge open during the Christmas vacation. Hoodoo hopes that most of the new facility will be ready by mid-season.

One of Hoodoo's previous two lodges was torn down at the end of last season to make room for the new building, so things are pretty cramped in the remaining lodge.

In the meantime, tents have been pitched in the parking lot to make up for some of the lost space.

Ski rentals, retail items and barbecue food sales are among the activities being conducted out of the tents.

Hoodoo President Chuck Shepard said that a tent put in place before Thanksgiving was ripped apart by the storm that rolled in during Thanksgiving weekend.

"A combination of heavy snow and the high winds just completely destroyed it," he said.

Still, everything was up and running for opening day, and the snow continued to fall on the first skiers of the new season.

Also, for the first time in recent memory, Hoodoo skiers no longer have to pay for Forest Service Snow Park permits.

Following up on a plan developed last year, Hoodoo has taken over snow plowing responsibilities for the parking area, so the permits are not necessary.

As a service, Hoodoo will continue to sell permits for outdoor enthusiasts using nearby Snow Park areas, but skiers using the Hoodoo facilities will no longer have to buy the permits.

Hoodoo is open daily, except Wednesdays, and is the only ski area in Central Oregon that offers night skiing.

Starting on December 21, the slopes will be lighted on Friday and Saturday nights and every day during the week after Christmas.

Hoodoo also plans to offer skiing until midnight on New Year's Eve.

There will be no night skiing on Christmas Eve.

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