California ski resorts are starting to pop open for the season. A foot or more of natural snow across the Sierra Mountains over the first weekend in November brightened the outlook as resort crews prepped for opening day.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area started snowmaking on Broadway in late October in preparation for its opening day, but got a huge boost with a foot of snow at Main Lodge and up to 2 feet of snow on the mid- and upper-mountain three days before opening. Mammoth cranked up a handful of lifts last Thursday, Nov. 11 followed by a weekend of parties at Hyde Lounge, a movie premiere, and a concert.
The resort aimed to open with four lifts: Broadway, Face Lift, Thunder Bound Express, and Discovery Chair. Daily operations will continue with crews bumping open more lifts as conditions permit. The next lifts to open most likely will include Stump Alley, Gold Rush, Roller Coaster, and Canyon. Reports of decent snow accumulating in Cornice Bowl may allow Panorama Gondola to open soon.
Heavenly Mountain Resort fired up its snowmaking guns a week earlier than expected in late October. The resort began making snow at the top of the Gondola, but got an added bonus with a foot of natural snow. Snowmaking continued on trails around Tamarack Express followed by runs on Dipper and Comet Express Lifts.
Heavenly aims to open Friday, Nov. 19 with the Heavenly Gondola and Tamarack Express running. Dipper and Comet lifts may get added to the mix if temperatures remain cold enough for snowmaking.
Squaw Valley USA plans to open Saturday, Nov. 20. Snowmaking helps in usually switching on Red Dog and Exhibition Lifts for opening day. Those on the slopes the first day can anticipate a laid-back celebration on the KT-22 sundeck with music and a no-host bar. The resort is doing a fast ramp-up for its Thanksjibbin' Rail Jam, Nov. 25, in which competitors can win turkeys, smoked hams, pumpkin pies, and cash prizes for best tricks, style, and best outfits.
Northstar-at-Tahoe also is scheduled to open Saturday, Nov. 20. The resort typically opens the Arrow Express lift first with Upper and Lower Main Street plus Lumberjack runs boosted by snowmaking. Crews are also aiming to get the Big Easy learning area and Big Easy Lift open for beginners.
Boreal, which opened the last weekend in October with two runs, suspended operation Nov. 5, pending cooler temperatures and forecasted snow. It reopened Nov. 9 after a storm brought 8 inches of snow and colder temperatures for snowmaking to resume. The resort hopes to add more terrain as soon as possible.
Weather can yo-yo temperatures and conditions in the mountains fast, which can affect plans for opening days. Check OnTheSnow's snow reports for updated information on resorts that are operating.