No snow and above-average temperatures equals no skiing.
Sleeping Giant Ski Area is announcing that they will not be opening for the 2023-2024 ski season due to the weather. The announcement comes on the day that most of the country was plunged into arctic temperatures as the hi temp for the day was forecasted by Big Horn Basin Media meteorologist Don Day to be -8F with wind chills between -30 to -45F. Instead of the usual temperatures below freezing, Cody has experienced a rather mild winter with relatively no snow and moderate temperatures. Back in December, day-time temps were still hitting 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
With the higher temperatures, the ground isn’t cold enough to keep snow. And that’s what happened this past December and November. Nick Piazza, owner of Sleeping Giant Ski Area, spoke to Mac Watson on Speak Your Piece and said that “because of the temperature inversion,” some days on the mountain outside of Yellowstone National Park, the temperatures were higher than in Cody and that means Sleeping Giant had to hold off their decision to open their season until January.
Because Mother Nature is temperamental at best, and unpredictable at worst, many ski resorts use machines to make artificial snow. Usually, if it’s cold enough, Sleeping Giant can start the process of blowing snow onto its trails in October, but the ground must be cold, if not frozen to ensure the snow won’t melt. Some resorts depend on snow-making machines to stay open for a season. Machine-made snow requires cool and dry conditions, something that was not happening this winter.
Just like natural snow, machine-made snow requires particular weather conditions – cool and dry.
“Best case is we want it at freezing for sure, below 28 is ideal, and you really want low humidity and low winds,” Mike Pierce, marketing director at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe, told FOX Weather Correspondent Steve Bender on Wednesday. “You can get your guns going at max.” The warmer the air, the less efficient the snowmaker, which means less snow.
In a media release, Nick Piazza says, “[Sleeping Giant] is no closer to opening than we were two to three weeks ago. We have reached a point where the loss of seasonal staff would make it difficult to open the mountain, even if we got snow tomorrow.” But Piazza is disappointed but not disheartened. Over the past summer, they groomed more trails, added amenities, and really ramped up the ski area for people to enjoy themselves this season. “While we are extremely disappointed to have to make this announcement, we will go lick our wounds, and – I am confident – come back stronger.”
Sleeping Giant will be refunding money to anyone who bought season passes by the end of January.
The media release reads:
Dear Sleeping Giant Friends and Season Pass Holders,
We are disappointed to announce that this latest winter storm mostly missed us. Unfortunately, we are no closer to being able to open the mountain than we were 2-3 weeks ago. We have reached a point where the loss of seasonal staff would make it difficult to open the mountain, even if we got snow tomorrow. For these reasons, we feel that the responsible thing to do is to pull the plug on this season.
With a heavy heart we are announcing that Sleeping Giant will not be opening for the 23/24 winter season.
We would like to thank everyone for their support and patience as we battled this terrible weather year.
We will be refunding all season pass holders their money at the end of January. This will happen automatically, and the funds will be returned to the payment method used when purchasing your season pass.
***For those that would like to roll over their season pass to the 24/25 Winter Season, we will announce instructions early next week.***
We have heard from some of our Season Pass Partner Mountains who have shared that they will be honoring our season pass perks, for those of you choosing to rollover your pass to 24/25. Snow King, 3 Free Day Lift Tickets with either a season pass or their receipt; Ski Cooper, 3 Free Day lift tickets; Bogus Basin, 3 Free Day lift tickets; and Soldier Mountain, 3 Free Day lift tickets.
Additionally, please note that if you received any complimentary passes for the 23/24 season, they automatically carry over to next season. The same applies for passes that were part of any promotion, charity give away, or raffle.
Should you have any questions about season passes please email GM@skisg.com.
While we are extremely disappointed to have to make this announcement, we will go lick our wounds, and – I am confident – come back stronger.
Our team will still be working at Sleeping Giant and I think everyone is ready to use this down time to get to work on several long-standing projects that we could not get to when operating. Moreover, we are in discussions with our friends at the USFS and Techno Alpine to get paperwork done so we can jump on improvements to our snow making system in the spring.
I would like to thank the whole Sleeping Giant team for the hard work they have put in over the last three months. You had some really unlucky breaks, but you stuck together and found ways to hold things together to the very end. To our outdoor team, you did more in the last 9 months than has been done at SG in a generation. Powered mainly with red bull and grit. Thank you!
It’s never pleasant to have to admit a big public defeat, but as we say in Ukrainian only people that do nothing enjoy infallibility. We did a lot of great things this year and fought like hell to get open.
After we get season pass refunds processed, we plan to sit down and explore options to keep some of the mountain’s basic services open and groomed, so snowshoers and those that wish can still enjoy Sleeping Giant’s beauty and resources.
We hope this will include a spring ski day for season pass holders that rollover into next year, but there are several legal hurdles that we need to overcome to make that a possibility. Stay tuned.