Big snow in the West, up to 28 inches at Whistler Blackcomb, has helped some areas in the region open earlier than planned. In the East, a warm spell forced several areas to delay openings last weekend. But with colder evening temperatures and with up to a foot of snow forecast for northern Quebec and New England, more areas there are opening between now and Friday, Nov. 25—or have opened already. Areas in the Midwest are also joining the ranks of those who are open or opening for the US Thanksgiving holidays.
New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain opened Nov. 20 for its 45th season with five trails, 22 acres and two miles of intermediate and advanced level terrain on the upper mountain. Loon was the first to open in New Hampshire. For Thanksgiving, Loon anticipates offering top-to-bottom terrain with at least 10 trails.
Sugarloaf, Maine, kicked off its 61st season today at noon, with three trails covering 1,750 vertical feet. Despite above-normal daytime temperatures over the past week, Sugarloaf has run up to 110 snowguns during overnight hours. Bretton Woods, N.H., opened today also, and plans to expand terrain top to bottom Nov. 23. Sunday River has reopened, with 10-20 inch base and four trails, aiming for 7 trails as soon as snowmaking and snowfall allows.
In the West, Silver Mountain opened Nov. 21 for one day, and reopens for the three-day Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 25-27. 49 Degrees North, Wash., with two feet in the past few days, has opened 40 trails and three of five lifts, with a base of 46-63 inches. Pomerelle, Ida., opened today, with a 20-24 inch natural snow base.
Other recent openings include Grouse Mountain and Powder King, B.C. and Great Divide Mont. (both reopening Nov. 24), and Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort.
In the Midwest, Afton Alps, Minn., opened Nov. 20 with one lift, and is expanding ops Nov. 23 through the weekend. Buck Hill, Minn., opened Nov. 21, with two lifts and three trails, 6-18 base. Ski Brule, Mich., opened Nov. 22 with 24-inch base, two trails and two lifts.
Several areas will start operations Nov. 23. In Colorado, Beaver Creek will offer 231 acres, five lifts and a terrain park, on both the main mountain and in Bachelor Gulch. The area will greet guests with hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies. Crested Butte ramps up Nov. 23 to celebrate its 50th birthday. The resort will operate with three chairlifts, two Magic Carpets, 12 trails and one jib park.
In California, Snow Valley will open Nov. 23 as well, celebrating its 74th season. Thanks to recent snowfall and cold temperatures for snowmaking, five lifts will operate and offer top-to-bottom terrain.
Others opening Nov. 23 include Alyeska, Alaska, Steamboat and Telluride, Colo., Powder Mountain, Utah, Red River, N.M., and Stowe, Vt. Mont Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, is opening Nov. 23 at 3 p.m., then begins normal daily operations on Nov. 24.
Thanksgiving day brings more openings. Among those in the West: Fernie B.C., Sugar Bowl, Calif., Aspen Mountain, Big Sky, Mont., Ski Apache and Taos, N.M., and Snowbasin, Utah.
Elsewhere, Snowshoe Mountain, W. Va., opens Nov. 24 through Nov. 27, and will reopen Dec. 2. Despite a mild period at the start of the season, the resort’s snowmaking system has built a base of 10-30” for opening day. Bristol, N.Y., and Granite Peak, Wisc., plan Thanksgiving openings as well.
Mt. Bachelor had planned to open Nov. 23, but extreme winds forecast through that evening (with gusts up to 85 mph expected at lift summits) pushed the opening back a day, to Nov. 24. Hoodoo and Willamette Pass both had two feet of snow on the ground earlier this week, and could open if storms forecast for the next two days bring appreciable new snow.
Many more areas are opening the day after Thanksgiving. Kirkwood, Calif., is one, and it will honor all current Kirkwood season passes as well as any valid 2011-12 season pass from any other resort. For non-pass holders, tickets are $29 (adult). The area will operate weekends before daily ops begin on Dec. 9— earlier if snowfall is abundant.
Consistent snowfall through October and November, including almost four feet of snowfall since Halloween, has set Red Lodge Mountain Resort up for a big opening. The snowmaking team has also been steadily making snow since Nov. 3, and the area hopes to be 100 percent open on the front side.
Other Friday openings in the Rockies include Canyons, Utah, Grand Targhee, Wyo., and Purgatory, Colorado. Others, such as Sleeping Giant, Wyo., are reopening for the weekend.
Elsewhere, in the East, perhaps 10 to 15 areas are planning Nov. 25 openings, including Holiday Valley, N.Y., Jay Peak (Nov. 26), Cranmore N.H., and Butternut, Mass. Several in Midwest will open, too, including Caberfae, Mich., Chestnut Mountain, Ill., Christmas Mountain, Wisc., and Sundown, Iowa.