Snowfall and snowmaking temperatures have spread across Canada and the US in the past week, enabling several more areas to open for the season.
Ski teams from across Canada are skiing at Sun Peaks this week, and the resort is scheduled to open to public on Saturday, November 17.
Teams from Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia have selected Sun Peaks as a training location because of its reliable early season snow and the Nancy Greene International Race Centre. The race centre was developed prior to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in partnership with the Austrian National Ski Team.
BC’s Whistler Mountain will open five days early on Saturday, November 17. With five lifts running, guests will have the option to upload from either the Whistler Village Gondola or the Creekside Gondola. Blackcomb Mountain will open, as scheduled, on American Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 22, 2012.
First upload on the Whistler Village Gondola and Creekside Gondola will begin at 8:30 a.m. on November 17. Emerald Express, Big Red Express and the Franz Chair lifts will also be running, giving guests access to 1800 vertical feet of skiing and riding terrain. Six ski runs will be open, including Ego Bowl, Upper Whiskey Jack, Upper Franz, Papoose, Orange Peel and Pony Trail. For the most up-to-date information about lift status, visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com.
“Despite the amount of snow we have made, we want to remind guests early season conditions will apply, especially off piste,” says Doug MacFarlane, mountain manager at Whistler Blackcomb. “It is important to obey mountain signage, ski and ride on open runs only and stay within the operational area marked by “Temporary Boundary” signage. Guests should be aware there will be rocks and other hazards below the snow surface; we do not recommend skiing and riding outside the temporary boundary in any circumstances.”
Whistler Mountain dining locations will also be open on November 17, including Essentially Blackcomb Cappuccino Bar in the Carleton Lodge, Dusty’s Bar & Grill in Creekside, the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain, and the Garibaldi Lift Co.
Last Sunday, Nov. 11, Mountain High, Calif., joined the growing ranks. On Tuesday, Nov. 13, Brighton, Utah, followed, with several areas opening on Nov. 14: Winter Park, Colo., Solitude, Utah, along with Heavenly and Northstar, Calif. All were aided by a storm that dropped more than three feet in some locations.
Heavenly and Northstar had originally planned to open on Nov. 16. They offered seven lifts and eight trails between them, on 55 acres of terrain. Heavenly will add another 20 acres over the weekend, weather permitting. Along with Kirkwood, which opens today, Nov. 16, the Vail Resorts resorts will have nine lifts, 14 trails, and 111 acres of terrain.
Several other resorts start turning the lifts today. Biggest among them is Vail, which will inaugurate its 50th season with the unveiling of its new Lift #1, a state-of-the-art 10-passenger gondola from the base of Vail Village. Complimentary commemorative pins, cocoa and cookies help mark the event. That’s just for foot traffic, though; the day’s skiing will open in Lionshead.
Loon, N.H., also starts up today, after several night of snowmaking weather. The area added 42 low-e guns this summer, adding to the 600 it installed a year ago; the upgrades make it possible to open quickly once temperatures cooperate. The area has skiing and riding on one route from the gondola summit to mid mountain. The gondola and the East Basin chair will offer lift service from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with downloading on the gondola.
Finally, several areas are opening tomorrow, Nov. 17. Among them: Sugar Bowl, Calf., Park City, Utah, and both Whistler and Sun Peaks, B.C., where both ample snowfall and snowmaking temperatures have aided efforts to open.
Park City is celebrating the season in several ways. First, it’s serving free donuts, coffee and hot chocolate in the morning. The first chairs to depart each of the three operating lifts will break a commemorative banner celebrating the season, and the passengers will receive limited edition “First Chair 2012-2013” t-shirts. The Northern Ute tribe will perform a traditional snow blessing at noon, and the area hosts an après concert by local Park City band, Muddpuddle.
If that doesn’t get the season off to a flying start, nothing will.