So far this ski season North America is experiencing polarized conditions in the East and West; the East is suffering from a lack of snow, while the West is digging out from better than average snow.
The western conditions are explained by the third, back-to-back-to-back La Nina which has set up the West for an early and enviable winter ski season.
A-Basin Colorado kicked off the season Oct. 23, the first Colorado resort to open for the 10th time in the last 12 years. Other October openings included Keystone (October 28), and Winter Park (Halloween).
Banff Sunshine was the first to open in Canada on Nov. 3, about a week earlier than planned. Nearby Lake Louise opened Nov. 4.
In Utah, it started snowing in October and has not let up. Brian Head opened Nov. 4, the first in the state and its earliest opening ever. Sundance opened Dec. 3, its earliest opening in more than a decade.
Steamboat opened its 60th season on Nov. 23, with the most terrain available on opening day in nearly a decade.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyo., which had already received 117 inches of snow by the beginning of December, opened Nov. 25 with five lifts and sprawling skiable terrain on the north side. The Aerial Tram, Bridger Gondola, Sublette, and Marmot lifts opened Dec. 3.
“We’re excited to open up for skiers and riders on Nov. 25 after a tremendous past few weeks of snowfall and cold temperatures,” said JHMR President Mary Kate Buckley. “This is some of the best early-season snow we’ve seen in the last decade. It’s been the perfect combination of snow and snow-making since late October, which leads to great coverage on our world-class terrain.” Nearby Snow King opened Nov. 26. Some days there are already sold out for ski school lessons over the Christmas holiday week.
Almost every resort opened earlier than planned, said Alison Palmintere, communications director at Ski Utah. Although not fully booked yet for Christmas, resorts are eager to show off their new capital improvements, including new tram cars at Snowbird, and new lifts at Deer Valley and Alta. Utah is also expanding its passport program this season to include all fourth, fifth and sixth graders, who can ski for three days at each of the state’s 15 resorts for just $49.
Whistler Blackcomb opened on Thursday Nov 24th, for skiing and boarding with locals giving the opening a 6 /10 based on a 35 year Whistler scale and a 65cm base depth. Whistler’s upgraded Creekside Gondola and Big Red Express lift replacements are spinning but not open and the latest from WB has the Gondola and Big Red potentially opening pre-holidays.
Sun Valley, Idaho, kicked off its 87th season Thanksgiving Day after receiving several big dumps of snow. Brundage opened Dec. 2—its second earliest opening in the last 16 years—after getting more than two feet of the fluffy stuff.
In Montana, Big Sky had a “historic” opening day Nov. 23, kicking off the season with 2,000 acres of skiable terrain—the most the resort has ever opened with. Bridger Bowl plans to open Dec. 9.
Willamette Pass, Ore., now operated by Mountain Capital Partners, opened early on Dec. 2 after more than two feet of snow fell on the resort. Improvements include direct-to-lift access for ticket holders and demand-based pricing on daily lift tickets with prices as low as $9 on select days.
Sun Peaks, B.C., got hit with early snowfall and had a strong opening, as did the rest of the “Powder Highway” region. Fernie Alpine Resort opened Dec. 3 with strong advance ticket sales and above normal lodging bookings. It featured some of the best early season snow conditions in a long time. Kicking Horse opens on December 9th.
Kimberley Alpine Resort’s Northstar Quad, the primary lift out of its base area that hasn’t operated since a fire destroyed the lift control building at the upper terminal on Dec. 18, 2021, is still being repaired. The resort said it has had tremendous support from Leitner Poma to get the lift ready to go for this winter and it will open with some of the best snow conditions in decades after receiving several feet of snow.
In California, Mammoth opened first on Nov. 5., followed by Boreal, Snow Summit, Heavenly, and Northstar, Nov. 18. After more than three feet of snow on the upper mountain in early November, Palisades Tahoe also opened early on the 18th, its second winter under its new name. The resort’s highly-anticipated new Base to Base Gondola will debut Dec. 17. Sugar Bowl will open its new Sugar Rush tubing hill Dec. 17, for weekend and holiday operations.
Hopefully the East will be open for the Holidays and if not, the West is ready for you!
Ski the World!