Resorts open before Haloween

Early snow and cold temperatures have encouraged several areas across North America to begin operations this weekend. Among them are Nakiska, Alnberta, Killington, Vermont, and Sunday River, Maine, in New England; and Boreal in California. They join perennial early-operators Timberline, Ore., Loveland and Arapahoe Basin, Colo., and this year’s first to open in Colorado, Wolf Creek. Mount Snow, Vermont, is also opening briefly, hosting a one-weekend rail fest.

Nakiska is scheduled to open a handful of runs on Saturday, it’s earliest first ski day on record, making it the first in Canada to open for the season. Nakiska will operate weekends only until December, when daily operations will commence. Nakiska has an official pertnership with Alpine Canada and hosts early season trianing. It was also a training facility for many teams prior to the 2011 Olympics.

Killington kicks off the 2011-12 winter season on Oct. 29, 2011, less than nine weeks after tropical storm Irene devastated the Northeast. All roads in and out of the area have been repaired and are ready for the winter onslaught.

Killington received nine inches of natural snow midweek (more is in the immediate forecast) and snowmakers will make snow and expand the terrain as long as conditions permit. Skiing and riding will be on advanced terrain only, on the un-groomed Rime trail, providing roughly 600 vertical feet of terrain. Guests will up- and download on the K-1 Gondola. Killington will operate through the weekend and then determine its operating schedule for the following week.

This weekend lift tickets are $27 to $39. Beverages, hot dogs, chili and light snacks will be available at the base of the North Ridge Triple Chair, and the K-1 Lodge will be open for ticket sales, lunch, guest service, retail and restrooms.

Sunday River will also open Oct. 29. This marks the fifth year in a row that the resort has been able to open on or before Halloween. To celebrate, Sunday River is offering a free lift ticket to those who come dressed in costume on Halloween day, Monday, Oct. 31.

Sunday River is offering advanced skiing and riding on T2, and there will be a single rail, a flat rail, and a flat box in the Grand Junction area. At the end of the day, guests will download using the Locke Mountain Triple mid-mountain lift station to ride back down to the base area. Lift tickets for Saturday through Monday are $29.

After Halloween, Sunday River will shut down temporarily with plans to reopen next weekend. The resort will operate seven days a week once the resort adds more open acreage with additional snowmaking.

Mount Snow also plans to open for a weekend park event. The area has fired up a few high-output fan guns to augment a bit of natural snow and, weather permitting, will operate one chairlift and set up some terrain park features for a weekend rail fest.

This weekend’s runs include Upper Mapmaker, Middle Mapmaker and Big Bear, off the Gold Express chair. Considering the early season conditions, the area recommends that only intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders should hit the hills.