2008-09 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 22, 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 the past two weeks have had substantial snow in most regions, accompanied by abnormally cold temperatures. Many areas have caught up and now have more terrain open than usual for Christmas, but well below average conditions are still likely for the Christmas holidays at some areas that had a late start and only modest snowfalls in December.

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. Last week's storm was 3-4 feet in the Sierra, and another foot last night. Most Tahoe areas are now in majority operation, though advanced terrain is still limited. Some areas such as Alpine Meadows (12%) and Heavenly (17%) are still very restricted, though some of that could be control work from recent storms. Last week's storm also brought 4 feet of snow to Southern California and Arizona areas, which are now in full operation much earlier than normal. 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

94

85%

58%

Kirkwood

98

83%

est 60%

Mammoth

119

127%

85%

Southern Cal

50

249%

100%

Arizona Snowbowl

77

141%

100%

Pacific Northwest: Whistler opened for Thanksgiving, but only 5% on snowmaking trails. Recent snowfalls have been modest as the storm track has gone south, so Whistler is only 15% open and likely to have a poor holiday season, far from its usual excellent early season record. Oregon areas have had 7 feet of snow in the past 2 weeks and shouild be in full operation once control work can be done. Washington areas have had 5-6 feet and are in majority operation.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

83

65%

15%

Crystal Mt.

92

83%

79%

Stevens Pass

80

57%

60%

Hood Meadows

112

87%

60%

Mt. Bachelor

139

121%

44%

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 early December. The new Revelstoke area has had 77 inches and opened about 1/4 of terrain for Thanksgiving. Revelstoke and Kicking Horse are also in majority operation now. Western Canada has not had much snow in the past week, so many areas are still very restricted going into the holidays: Big White is 36% open, Panorama 21%, Silver Star 8% and Whitewater 11%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

50

92%

69%

Sunshine

57

75%

73%

Kicking Horse

61

70%

70%

Fernie

42

35%

32%

Red Mt.

58

69%

11%

Sun Peaks

54

88%

91%

U. S. Northern Rockies: 2+ feet of snow in early brought Targhee and Bridger Bowl to full operation. There was another 2+ feet of snow in much of the region last week, but most areas are a couple of weeks behind schedule and about half open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

58

59%

53%

Bridger Bowl

91

112%

100%

Grand Targhee

118

89%

100%

Jackson Hole

99

87%

34%

Schweitzer

73

91%

46%

Sun Valley

41

73%

40%

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 5-6 feet of December snow and are decent shape for Christmas. The Park City group was less than 10% open in mid-December and is about half open now after about 2 feet of recent snow. The holiday period is expected to be stormy.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

148

101%

98%

Snowbird

129

102%

75%

Brighton/Solitude

115

83%

62%

Snowbasin

96

106%

40%

Park City

46

58%

44%

Brian Head

60

69%

77%

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 3-6 feet so far in December most of these areas will enjoy an above average holiday season.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

129

133%

89%

Breckenridge

84

106%

82%

Copper Mt.

93

125%

77%

Keystone

62

122%

90%

Loveland

116.5

129%

70%

Steamboat

101

87%

91%

Vail

128

120%

97%

Winter Park

108

101%

79%

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 had 4 feet in early December and was half open mid-month, but other areas were in more in limited operation. There was 3 feet of snow in most of the region last week, opening most runs. However the steepest terrain like Crested Butte's North Face and much of Taos will need another dump to get open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

114

177%

75%

Crested Butte

85

133%

52%

Gothic Snow Lab

109.5

122%

N/A

Durango

68

97%

100%

Telluride

120

183%

65%

Wolf Creek

148

155%

100%

Taos

76

97%

36%

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 were variable from mixed rain/snow in early December and several areas were hit by an ice storm. It dumped 3+ feet over northern New England last weekend and current conditions are excellent. Eastern skiers should seize the day as rain is predicted later this week. Percents open: Sunday River 85%, Hunter 76%, Okemo 99%, Stratton 82%, Tremblant 73%, Ste. Anne 63%. 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)

122

117%

74%

Mansfield Stake

76

108%

89%

Sugarbush

99

126%

100%

Killington

133

200%

86%

Cannon Mt.

76

168%

78%

Sugarloaf

74

136%

89%

Whiteface

75

160%

70%

Le Massif

82

121%

71%

Other season snow totals: Tremblant 73, Mt. Ste. Anne 63, Okemo 52, Stratton 71.

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