2008-09 Ski Season Progress Report as of December 31, 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 since then most regions have had substantial snow, accompanied by abnormally cold temperatures. Some regions caught up (Oregon, the Sierra, Utah and western Colorado had major dumps over Christmas) and were above average in snowfall and terrain open for the holidays. Since Christmas the storm track has moved north, improving many of the areas that have been limited due to lack of snow.

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 this week's another 1-3 feet. Tahoe areas are now close to full operation, with only a few expert sectors like Silverado and some of the Mt. Rose Chutes still closed. The mid-December storm also brought 4 feet of snow to Southern California and Arizona areas, which were in full operation before Christmas, much earlier than normal. Christmas storms brought 3 feet of snow to Arizona but mostly rain to Southern California. 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

154

116%

90%

Kirkwood

162

115%

100%

Mammoth

176

158%

100%

Northstar

133

146%

93%

Mt. Rose

100

90%

90%

Southern Cal

56

222%

70-100%

Arizona Snowbowl

113

172%

100%

Pacific Northwest: Whistler opened for Thanksgiving, but only 5% on snowmaking trails. Snowfalls through Christmas were modest as the storm track went south, so Whistler was only 26% open at Christmas and locals reported poor holiday conditions, far from its usual excellent early season record. Despite nearly 3 feet of snow this week, most of the Whislter alpine is still not open. Oregon areas have had 10-15 feet of snow in the past 3+ weeks and are in full operation weather permitting. Washington areas had lesser amounts before Christmas, but with 4 feet since they too are now in full operation.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whistler

121

79%

35%

Crystal Mt.

144

108%

100%

Stevens Pass

143

84%

100%

Mt. Bachelor

230

169%

100%

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 were in majority operation after 2 feet of snow in early December. The new Revelstoke area opened about 1/4 of terrain for Thanksgiving and has now had 99 inches. Revelstoke and Kicking Horse were also in majority operation mid-December. Western Canada did not have much snow in for 2 weeks before Christmas, so many areas were still very restricted for the holidays. This week they have had 1-3 feet of snow and opened much more terrain. Big White is 67% open and Panorama 71%.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Lake Louise

55

88%

85%

Sunshine

73

82%

88%

Kicking Horse

73

72%

84%

Fernie

84

58%

61%

Castle Mt.

92

86%

31%

Red Mt.

97

96%

70%

Whitewater

85

60%

80%

Sun Peaks

70

96%

100%

U. S. Northern Rockies: 2+ feet of snow in early December brought Targhee and Bridger Bowl to full operation. From then until Christmas snowfall ranged from 3 feet near the Canadian border to 6 feet in the Tetons, with the northern areas catching up this week. Most areas are close to full operation, and some of the still closed terrain is due to control work, particularly after the 2 avalanche incidents at Jackson.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Whitefish

119

100%

100%

Bridger Bowl

113

115%

100%

Grand Targhee

182

115%

100%

Jackson Hole

159

118%

52%

Schweitzer

143.5

149%

100%

Sun Valley

83

124%

75%

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 8-9 feet of December snow and were in good shape by Christmas. The Park City group was less than 10% open in mid-December but has had 6 feet of snow through Christmas. Calm weather this week has allowed nearly all terrain to be controlled and opened.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Alta

192

110%

100%

Snowbird

167

112%

100%

Brighton/Solitude

159

96%

94%

Snowbasin

157

148%

100%

Park City

109

113%

90%

Brian Head

105

104%

97%

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 4-8 feet of December snow most of these areas are enjoying an above average holiday season.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Beaver Creek

167

148%

100%

Breckenridge

105

113%

94%

Copper Mt.

113

129%

91%

Keystone

78

129%

92%

Loveland

128

121%

73%

Steamboat

140

102%

99%

Vail

162

131%

97%

Winter Park

135

109%

88%

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 mid-December, opening most runs, and another 1-3 feet through Christmas. However Crested Butte's North Face and some of Taos are not yet open.

Area

Season Snow

Pct. of Normal

Pct. of Area Open

Aspen

136

180%

95%

Crested Butte

136

182%

62%

Gothic Snow Lab

158.5

152%

N/A

Durango

111

135%

100%

Telluride

146

191%

80%

Wolf Creek

202

181%

100%

Taos

115

129%

74%

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 for an epic weekend before Christmas. But for the past week there has been rain, so surfaces are variable and most areas have decreased trail counts. Percents open: Sunday River 79%, Hunter 67%, Okemo 75%, Stratton 80%, Tremblant 65%, Ste. Anne 71%. 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)

137

111%

64%

Mansfield Stake

82

99%

62%

Sugarbush

108

116%

64%

Killington

139

172%

60%

Cannon Mt.

82

153%

46%

Sugarloaf

76

118%

51%

Whiteface

89

162%

56%

Le Massif

104

127%

58%

Other season snow totals: Tremblant 89, Mt. Ste. Anne 73, Okemo 59, Stratton 75.

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