1998-99 Ski Season Progress Report as of November 29, 1998

Current top picks: Mt. Bachelor and anything in the Pacific Northwest over 4,000 feet, Schweitzer and the Idaho panhandle, Wolf Creek in Colorado, Alta and Brighton in Utah.

California: Sierra snowfall in November was slightly below average, with several small storms rather than the usual big dump. As there has been more snow in the north than the south, Sugar Bowl is the only major area with most of its natural snow runs open. Elsewhere, most skiing is on snowmaking, with Heavenly Valley and Northstar offering the most terrain. The number of runs open is still restricted, especially with respect to advanced terrain. Conditions could improve with more snow expected this week. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.

Pacific Northwest: Oregon was pounded with 3-5 feet of snow a week ago. Mt. Bachelor has a 6-7 foot base and is now the largest area in North America in full operation. Base depths at Mt. Hood are 4-6 feet. Last week Washington State caught the big dumps, with regional leader Mt. Baker now boasting an 8-10 foot base. Whistler missed the first storm, but has received 4-5 feet at higher elevations this week. Once avalanche control is completed, at least 4,000 of Whistler/Blackcomb's 7,000 acres will be open on a 70 inch base in the alpine. Check Northwest Ski Reports for up to date information.

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Natural base depths are 2-3 feet in most areas, with some new snow from the Northwest storms. Red Mt. has a 4 foot base, but its expert terrain needs more coverage. No one is as much as half open yet.

U. S. Northern Rockies: Regional leader Grand Targhee is open but with a below average base depth of 2-3 feet. The Northwest storms brought 4 feet of snow to Schweitzer in Idaho, but much less to areas farther east.

Utah: Cottonwood Canyon base depths from the big October storms have settled to about 3-4 feet. All four areas are more than half open with a few inches new this weekend, but historically Alta and Brighton will have fewer obstacles than Snowbird and Solitude at these base depths. Outside the Cottonwood Canyons, natural snow cover is much more limited.

Northern and Central Colorado: Season-to-date snowfall is about 3 feet at leading areas Steamboat and Winter Park. Most areas are about 25% open, primarily on snowmaking.

Southern and Western Colorado: Wolf Creek's base depth has settled to 60 inches, still highest in the Rockies. Wolf Creek has a unique microclimate, so other areas in the region do not necessarily share in its good fortune. However, Taos, Purgatory and Telluride, which were also hit with the early November storm, report 40 inch bases with more than half their runs open. However, for expert terrain, 40 inches is marginal at Telluride and inadequate at Taos. Aspen has a 2 foot base similar to most of Colorado.

Northeast: A handful of snowmaking trails are open at the usual places: Killington, Okemo, Sugarbush and Sunday River. Temperatures have been above freezing as often as below, and this weekend brought the first significant (6-12 inches) natural snow to the northern areas. As my report is an overview, I strongly recommend checking Scenes of Vermont Ski Page or New England Ski Guide's Weekend Forecast for up to date information in this region, where both weather and surface conditions can change so rapidly.

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