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Mammoth Mountain wraps up its second-longest ski season in history

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have had a summer of wild weather.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND BLOWING)

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Much of the eastern U.S. was slammed by strong thunderstorms late yesterday, knocking out...

INSKEEP: We were.

MCCAMMON: We were, here in D.C.

INSKEEP: We were slammed by thunderstorms. Anyway, go on.

MCCAMMON: Knocking out power to more than a million homes and businesses. Commuters were stranded on flooded highways. Thousands of flights were delayed or cancelled. Even President Joe Biden had to change his travel plans.

INSKEEP: So that was the eastern United States. Much of the southern United States faces record heat. And California faces this - skiers have been able to seek relief from triple-digit temperatures by heading to Mammoth Mountain in the Sierras, a resort that just wrapped up its second-longest ski season ever.

(SOUNDBITE OF WIND BLOWING)

MCCAMMON: Historic snowfall in the Eastern Sierras allowed people to hit the slopes in Mammoth for 275 days this season. Ron Cohen, the resort's president, says skiing has continued into August only twice before.

RON COHEN: We made it into August back in 1995, after the giant '94-'95 season, and again in 2017 after another big year.

INSKEEP: This is reminding me my family was in the Colorado Rockies in June, and my 8-year-old got to touch snow. Anyway, Cohen says, with the slopes open this late into the summer, visitors have been able to do more than ski.

COHEN: People have just been absolutely jazzed by being able to ski into August and to do some version of the Mammoth triathlon, which is something like ski, bike and golf in the same day, or ski, hike and paddleboard in the same day.

MCCAMMON: I like sledding. What about sledding? It's not just Mammoth Mountain, though.

ADRIENNE SAIA ISAAC: Ski areas, especially out in the Mountain West, this year were able to stay open longer. So as a result, the '22-'23 season was a record in terms of visitation and participation.

INSKEEP: Adrienne Saia Isaac is with the National Ski Areas Association, which represents ski resorts across this country. Resort operators are hoping this strong season will lead to another.

ISAAC: Of course, when it snows, people want to come skiing. It also bodes well for the season after because if you had a good snow year, people get really psyched up. And then they look forward to the next season.

MCCAMMON: And Isaac points to herself for evidence that good powder can keep people coming back.

ISAAC: I know I had plenty of weekends where I also went back to ski Monday morning because the snow was just so good.

MCCAMMON: She hopes skiers will look beyond the powder and take action to fight global warming so future generations can also enjoy the snow.

ISAAC: Even coming off a strong snow year, it's important. If you love outdoors and you love outdoor recreation, it's time to be a climate advocate. We want to see winters like this for seasons to come, with predictable, consistent snowfall. And we want winter to stick around so our kids and grandkids can experience the joy of skiing and riding.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENA RAINE'S "FIRST STEPS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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