SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. - The second driest December on record took a big toll on the Summit at Snoqualmie. There hasn't been enough snow to open for skiing.
"It's pretty much depressing, you just feel sorry for everyone," said Forrest Friedman, who moved to the ski area in November and checked into a motel.
Friedman wanted to work as a lift operator and snowboard in his free time, but he hasn't worked at all. One thousand employees haven't had any work because there's only 8 to 10 inches of snow on the ground. They need at least a couple of feet to open.
"It's definitely a disappointment this time of year," the Summit's marketing director, Guy Lawrence, said.
Holiday business has been lost. The 8,000 to 10,000 people who normally show up on weekends during winter break had no reason to come.
Restaurants and a motel that rely on ski traffic have all felt the pain.
"It's been very slow and it's made for some customer complaints," said Mary Vickers, who works at the front desk of the Summit Inn. Some guests that booked rooms in December cancelled and rescheduled for later in the winter.
The ski operator has steered season pass holders to other resorts that will honor its tickets or at least offer discounts. There's a plan to move snow from parking lots at the Summit to a beginner run, just to get something open.
After spending $3,000 on living expenses, Friedman is giving up on a ski season that never started for him. He is going back to Chicago.
"Everybody keeps saying, 'It's a good life experience for you,' but I'd rather have the money," Friedman said.