It's a blue bird day at Teacup Lake Nordic area and the sun lights up the snowy peak of nearby Mt. Hood. I push off on a crust of perfectly groomed Nordic track on my classic skis, trying to catch...
Mount Hood resorts hosted 1,342,405 visits from skiers and snowboarders and other recreators in 2012-13, nearly 150,000 more than the 10-year average.
John Gifford, president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, added up the 2012-13 numbers for Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline, Mt. Hood Skibowl and Cooper Spur and shared them with Shred Hood Monday morning.
According to Gifford, 2012-13 was the best season for overall Mount Hood visits, at least for the past 10 years that PNSAA has been tracking the figure. Resort visits on Mount Hood grew by about 4 percent from 2011-12. They were significantly higher than the 10-year average of 1,195,307, which included the extremely low snow year of 2004/05.
As an astute reader pointed out in the comments section, one driver for the higher numbers is the growing popularity of mountain biking, tubing and other non-skiing/snowboarding activities on the mountain, especially at Skibowl. John Gifford of PNSAA explained that the visits count everyone who visited a Mount Hood resort from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013, including nordic skiers, tubers, hikers, and mountain bikers.
It's hard to say how many skiers and snowboarders and mountain bikers 1,342,405 visits represent, or how much revenue, because a visit counts the same whether it is a businessman from Japan splurging on a week at Timberline or a hardcore season pass holder nabbing 100 days on snow for one low price. But we can come up with a rough estimate of more than $200 million in direct spending on Mount Hood recreation in 2012-13.
Here's how I arrived at that figure, with major help from an ECONorthwest study prepared for Ski Oregon in 2012.
Major caveat: I am no economist. If you see a problem with my calculations, by all means feel free to correct me in the comments section.
Gifford did not divide out the numbers by ski area at the request of the private companies that run the resorts on Mount Hood. In past seasons Mount Hood Meadows has drawn about 500,000 visits, SkiBowl 400,000, Timberline 350,000, Cooper Spur 10,000 and Summit 5,000.
Approximately 150,000 skiers and snowboarders live within a 90-minute drive of Mount Hood.