Winter in the Canadian Rockies signals two things at ski hills: grizzly bears head to their dens to hibernate and ski resorts open. Most of Alberta's major ski resorts around Banff and Jasper National Parks crank up lifts in November, but balmy temperatures threw a kink in early opening plans for some.
Two resorts-Mt. Norquay and Nakiska--were hoping to open by the end of October. Cool late October temperatures ushered in snow, but a sudden warming trend over Halloween weekend put a temporary kibosh on snowmaking that forced bumping hoped-for openings to later weekends. "This warm weather is not helping our cause," André Quenneville, general manager of Norquay, e-mailed us.
Both resorts have a vested interest in opening early, but not just for loyal fans. They serve as training venues for race teams, particularly international teams running gates prior to the World Cup at Lake Louise at the end of November.
Nakiska rescheduled their opening for Nov. 6 with plans to operate weekends only until Dec. 4. Norquay still ran a successful ski swap and open house with free hot dogs and beer Oct. 30-31, but bumped their opening to Nov. 13 at the earliest.
Canada Olympic Park in Calgary plans to open Nov. 19. The park will run lifts on its regular schedule, which is 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Hours change for holidays to noon to 9 p.m. Nov. 22-25 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Dec. 18-Jan. 3.
Weather conditions can change overnight in the Canadian Rockies. Check here at OnTheSnow.com for the status of resorts before driving to the slopes to ski or ride.