An unprecedented number of ski areas opened across North America at the weekend, several claiming it was their earliest ever opening, or at least the earliest for several decades. One area said it was their earliest opening for 68 years.
The decision by many to open seems to be in response to early snowfalls in some areas whilst others have used ever improving snow making systems to open terrain.
In total more than 40 ski areas opened. Some were open for the weekend only although most say they’ll re-open next weekend.
In Canada ski areas opened from East to West Coasts with more than a dozen areas opening. They included coastal areas Cypress Mountain and Grouse Mountain, as well as Panorama to the East of the province.
In Alberta where Norquay was the first in Canada to open on November 3rd, nine areas were open in total – more than any other North American state or province – as Sunshine and Lake Louise, Nakiska and Marmot Basin (above) as well as Edmonton’s Snow Valley Ski Club, Sunridge Ski Area and Rabbit Hill Ski Club slopes. Powderkeg ski area was the ninth in the province.
Across in Quebec – which was reporting its hottest September on record six weeks ago – Mont Sainte Sauveur opened thanks to snowmaking to take the number of open Canadian centres to 12 at the weekend.
In the Western US Colorado saw more of the world’s highest altitude ski areas open including Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone as well as Wolf Creek, taking the state’s tally to six with A Basin and Loveland already operating.
The Great Divide ski area in Montana also opened claiming it was its earliest first day in 68 years as did Lookout Pass and 49 Degrees North in Washington State.
Mammoth and Boreal are also open in California, Mt Rose in Nevada and Timberline in Oregon taking the Western US total open areas tally also to 13.
Temperatures have been low in November in the Midwest allowing resorts to run snowmaking systems. Ski areas opening for the 17-18 season at the weekend included Mount Holly and Bittersweet in Michigan whilst Minnesota saw the earliest openings in almost 30 years for the Wild Mountain, Buck Hill and Afton Alps ski centres.
In Michigan Boyne Mt. and Boyne Highlands opened on their earliest date in over 20 years, with Ski Brule open too, whilst in Wisconsin Tyrol Basin opened a fortnight ahead of scheduled due to the low temperatures, whilst Sunburst Winter Sports Park also opened as well as Little Switzerland reported the ski hill’s earliest ever opening. Altogether the Midwest ski areas opening weekend total was 11.
In the North East Killington was the first ski area in the region to open last Wednesday but it has been quickly followed by fellow Vermont resorts Mount Snow and Okemo (video below) at the weekend.
Sunday River in Maine opened last weekend and is open seven days a week. Sugarloaf had enough snow to open last weekend, and it will reopen on Friday for the season.
In New Hampshire Wildcat ski area opened as well whilst Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Massachusetts opened on Sunday. Roundtop Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania also opened at the weekend giving eight areas open in the US North East too.
Some Delayed Openings Though
It’s not entirely good news for the start of the season though. Warm temperatures in Colorado have melted away natural snowfall and the areas open are reliant on machine made snow. One resort, Eldora, that had planned to open this Thursday has announced it won’t be able to.
Down in New Mexico another resort has also announced a delayed opening. Blaming ”unseasonably warm weather,” Ski Apache will not open on November 23rd in time for Thanksgiving as hoped but has delayed its planned opening day to December 15th.
But the good news is that more snow is now being forecast for the West of the continent with big snowfalls expected in California, Oregon, BC and Nevada over the next 72 hours – hopefully up to 90cm/3 feet at some areas.