It was pretty ugly around here looking at dirt. That was a real grind, and it was a challenge emotionally for everybody. —Shane Gadbaw, Eagle Point Ski Resort
EAGLE POINT, Beaver County — The mild winter has made it rough for Utah ski resorts, especially resorts that don't make their own snow.
For Eagle Point in Beaver County, its second year of being open was nothing like its first.
"What a wild ride year two has been," said Shane Gadbaw, who runs the Eagle Point Ski Resort. After last year's snow, he figured running a ski hill would be easier than he thought. It was its first year open, after all. Then came this year.
"It was pretty ugly around here looking at dirt," Gadbaw said. "That was a real grind, and it was a challenge emotionally for everybody."
Eagle Point didn't open until the last week of January. With the slower season, Gadbaw decided to only be open Friday through Monday instead of seven days a week like last year. It will also only stay open until the middle of next month, which would give it just three months of skiing this year.
The ski resort is still too new for businesses in Beaver to rely on it for customers, but they've already noticed less business than last year.
“Last year, sales were up throughout the community, food, motel, gas stations," said Beaver Mayor Mark Yardley. "Our downtown seemed to have a few more people."
With as little snow as Eagle Point received earlier this ski season, Gadbaw knows the resort can't always rely on Mother Nature, so he's already talking about getting snowmaking machines.
"Instead of just rolling the dice like I was going to do for the first several years until we had enough demand to warrant it, I think it's caused us to accelerate looking at installing a reasonable system in the near future," Gadbaw said.
A few recent snowstorms have helped. At this point, all the trails and runs are open. But it's certainly different from last year, which Gadbaw said is actually good because it's taught him to be patient. Building a loyal customer base doesn't happen overnight, no matter how great the snow is.
"I think you just take each day as it goes and just enjoy being up here," he said.
The resort plans to stay open until the middle of next month.