Avalanche Center fundraiser was a hit

Lauren Steinheimer
A sold out crowd celebrated this year's favorable change in ski conditions at the 14th Annual Snow Ball fundraiser for Mount Shasta Avalanche Center held at City Park.

After a couple of dry, warm years, so many people came for the 14th Annual Snow Ball at Mt. Shasta City Park that organizer Justi Hansen said some had to turned away after the upper lodge reached capacity.

A sea of beaming faces filled the lodge Saturday evening as the crowd danced to local bands Whiskey Gulch and Secret Society Handshake.

The fundraising event that supports the Friends of the Avalanche Center began with a backcountry race at the Ski Park in the morning.

“Because we’ve been in a drought the past couple of years, I think everybody is so excited to have snow on the ground,” Hansen said of the turnout. “I also think that hiring a 13 piece local band with a big following had something to do with it.”

After dancing up an appetite, Hansen said the crowd blew through all the pizza and beer, so organizers had to run out to re-supply provisions in the middle of the party.

Shasta Ascension Backcountry Race Director Hanne Meyers said 46 skiers and boarders competed, about twice as many as last year.

“I think the event was a huge success,” Meyers said. “We were able to hold it at the Ski Park because of much better snow this year. It was really great to collaborate with them, and I think holding it there helped with the turnout.”

Last year’s race was held at Bunny Flat due to lack of snow at the Ski Park.

Overall race winners were boarders Brian Kerr and Melisa Jessee, and skiers Skylar Loughlin and Angela Towner.

Best costume awards went to James Allen and Zach Snure.

After the race, Meyers said free backcountry gear demos provided by The Fifth Season and a free backcountry tour led by Shasta Mountain Guides were offered to anyone interested.

“What we love about this event is that so many people show up to support the Avalanche Center, which helps draw people to the community,” Hansen said. “Both of these events wouldn’t happen without our sponsors, and the hundreds of people who volunteered to help.”

Event sponsors for the 2016 Snow Ball and backcountry race include: Mount Shasta Ski Park, The Fifth Season, Shasta Mountain Guides, Berryvale, Shasta Base Camp, Sierra Nevada, General Produce Crystal Geyser, Dana Bainbridge, and Dragon Graphics.

The event is the major fundraiser for Friends of the Avalanche Center, which also holds film events and clinics.

For more information about the Avalanche Center, visit their website www.shastaavalanche.org/

and Facebook page www.facebook.com/shastaavalanche/?fref=ts.