2008-09 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 15, 2008

October was mostly average, with small amounts of snow in many regions but nothing that will impact the season. At the end of the month a major storm hit the West Coast, but snow levels averaged 9,000 feet, so only Mammoth was able to open some natural terrain from it. The storm moved on to Utah, where the Cottonwood Canyon resorts received nearly 4 feet of snow, allowing Snowbird to open Nov. 7. The storm continued into Colorado, but the snowfall there averaged about a foot. There was scattered snow during the second week of November but next 2 weeks were dry and warm. Therefore at most western areas Thankgiving skiing was marginal. The widespread drought continued for over a week into December but has recently been broken in most regions, accompanied by extreme cold temperatures. Open terrain is likely to expand substantially over the next week, but well below average conditions are still likely for the Christmas holidays at many areas that are just getting started now. Front Range/I-70 Colorado is best region overall so far, as it has been snowing more consistently there since Thanksgiving.

California: Mammoth received 21 inches of snow near its base and opened a run Nov. 2. But much more fell on the upper mountain, which opened Nov. 7. The solid upper mountain base held up through a warm couple of weeks, and Mammoth was 40% open (the most acreage in North America) after 3 more lower mountain chairs opened on snowmaking by Thanksgiving. The big early November storm was nearly all rain at Tahoe, and with ensuing warm weather only Boreal and Mt. Rose opened for Thanksgiving on a very restricted basis, followed by Heavenly later in the holiday. Tahoe areas are all less than 10% open, but a storm started Dec. 13. It has dropped 2 feet so far, but more will be needed for advanced terrain to open. Mammoth, which has a solid base from November, should be at least 80% open by next weekend and in good shape for the holidays. See Current California Ski Conditions for more details on Southern California and Mammoth.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Squaw 8,000

59

63%

2%

Kirkwood

50

50%

2%

Mammoth

71

89%

40%

Southern Cal

20

124%

0-15%

Arizona Snowbowl

27

59%

closed

Pacific Northwest: Whistler opened for Thanksgiving, but only 5% on snowmaking trails. It is still only 9% open, so Christmas will be much more restricted than usual unless it gets quite a bit more snow. Washington and Oregon areas got 2-3 feet last week, so they opened limited terrain last weekend. More snow is expected there soon.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

73

67%

9%

Crystal Mt.

48

51%

35%

Mt. Bachelor

81

83%

5%

Canadian Rockies and Interior B.C.: Lake Louise opened a run on snowmaking Nov. 8 and was 5% open through November, followed by Sunshine opening Nov. 15 with somewhat more terrain. These areas are in majority operation after 2 feet of snow so far in December. The new Revelstoke area has had 76 inches and opened about 1/4 of terrain for Thanksgiving. Revelstoke and Kicking Horse are also in majority operation now. Sun Peaks is slightly less than half open, but the Okanagan and Kootenay areas are still very limited or closed.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

49

103%

68%

Sunshine

56

86%

73%

Kicking Horse

60

79%

70%

Fernie

42

41%

est 15%

Red Mt.

27

38%

closed

U. S. Northern Rockies: 2+ feet of snow last week brought Targhee to full operation. Bridger Bowl is the only other area in the region in majority operation. Other areas are 2-3 weeks behind schedule and likely to be more restricted than usual for the holidays.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

46

55%

27%

Bridger Bowl

87

127%

80%

Grand Targhee

87

78%

100%

Jackson Hole

67

69%

16%

Schweitzer

33.5

50%

4%

Sun Valley

26

54%

12%

Utah: Snowbird opened Nov. 7 after a storm of nearly 4 feet. After more snow the next week, all 4 Cottonwood areas were open for the weekend of Nov. 15-16 (ranging from 39% at Alta to 11% at Solitude). Surface conditions were variable after 2 weeks of no new snow, but a few inches over Thanksgiving weekend resurfaced much of Alta and allowed Supreme to open. Park City delayed its opening to November 29 because it was often too warm to make snow. The Cottonwood areas have had 2-3+ feet of December snow and are decent shape already, but the Park City group remains very limited and should be avoided until January.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

116

93%

90%

Snowbird

96

89%

75%

Brighton/Solitude

73

62%

46%

Snowbasin

68

86%

20%

Park City

29

44%

6%

Brian Head

32

43%

14%

Northern and Central Colorado: Loveland and A-Basin opened their first snowmaking runs Oct. 15. Copper and Breckenridge also opened on snowmaking Nov. 8, and Vail and Winter Park opened Nov. 22. Historical snowfall leaders Steamboat, Vail and Winter Park are normally about 1/4 open by Thanksgiving, but everyone in the region was well under 10% open this year. The Thanksgiving weekend storm dropped an average of 2 feet, with 4 feet at Loveland. With 2-4 feet so far in December substantially more terrain has opened, so this region is now slightly above average.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

100

118%

72%

Breckenridge

71

104%

58%

Copper Mt.

79

123%

51%

Keystone

53

122%

47%

Loveland

89

114%

67%

Steamboat

83

84%

61%

Vail

97

103%

79%

Winter Park

88

93%

48%

Southern and Western Colorado: Aspen, Telluride and Taos opened a handful of snowmaking runs for Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving weekend storm averaged about 1.5 feet, allowing Wolf Creek to open most terrain, though on a modest 20-inch base. Aspen has had 4 feet in December, but other areas remain more in limited operation. It will take much more snow like last year to get many of the steeper runs open by New Year's, though the current western storm is headed into this region.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

88

157%

50%

Crested Butte

46

83%

28%

Gothic Snow Lab

72.5

93%

N/A

Durango

34

56%

35%

Telluride

82

144%

38%

Wolf Creek

82

99%

100%

Taos

48

68%

16%

Northeast: Natural snow in late October totalled 11 inches at Stowe and Jay Peak. Sunday River opened Oct. 31 and Killington opened Nov. 2 on snowmaking. Weather then turned warm and rainy, so Killington closed after 5 days while Sunday River maintained marginal operation on weekends. With 2 cold weeks and 1-3 feet of new snow, many eastern areas had more runs open than normal for Thanksgiving. Surfaces are variable from mixed rain/snow in early December and several areas were hit by last week's ice storm. Nonetheless there has also been some new snow, and trail counts are gradually increasing. Percents open: Sunday River 50%, Hunter 60%, Whiteface 44%, Okemo 52%, Stratton 55%, Tremblant 68%, Ste. Anne 86%. I strongly recommend checking First Tracks Online Ski Magazine No-Bull Ski Reports for up to date information in this region, where both weather and surface conditions can change so rapidly.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Jay (average)

81

90%

46%

Mansfield Stake

55

91%

71%

Sugarbush

54

80%

58%

Killington

86

156%

43%

Cannon Mt.

35

90%

30%

Sugarloaf

33

70%

54%

Le Massif

69

109%

56%

Other season snow totals: Tremblant 60, Mt. Ste. Anne 55, Whiteface 36, Okemo 35, Stratton 39.

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