Southern Idaho ski areas are wallowing happily in mid-winter conditions before Christmas. A steady parade of storms boosted Sun Valley Resort into nearly full operation by mid-December with smaller ski areas starting up their lifts for the season much earlier than usual.

"We're off to a good start. Conditions are exceptional right now," Sun Valley's Jack Sibbach told us. "It's a one out of ten years start." So much snow has fallen that Sun Valley popped new terrain open daily throughout December, adding trails and lifts on Dollar Mountain and Baldy Mountain, and its tubing park. The resort expects to be 100 percent open by Christmas, including operation of the terrain park and superpipe.

The snow came so early this year that Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area opened at Thanksgiving for the first time since 1994. "We're stoked. Compared to the last three years, we weren't even open yet as the snow came right before Christmas," said Bogus Basin's Gretchen Anderson. "We're very happy. It'll make for a long season, and the snow just keeps on coming."

Bogus Basin may be set up for a record-breaking year with skier visits. The resort sold 25,000 season passes; a banner snow year may entice passholders to head more often to the slopes. The resort has its tubing hill, Nordic center, and lifts operating with night skiing running until 10 p.m.

Many of Southern Idaho's smaller ski hills also opened early, due to generous snows. Pebble Creek Ski Area opened Dec. 10-12, closed for a short hiatus, and reopened for seven day per week operation Dec. 17. The resort will be closed Christmas day, but otherwise plans to operate daily through March 6. Its Wednesday through Sunday schedule runs March 9-27.

Pomerelle Mountain Resort has all three of its lifts running daily with mid-winter conditions as of mid-December. Night skiing starts up Dec. 28. The lifts run until 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Magic Mountain Resort opened Dec. 4 for weekends only until the holidays. A short glitch over the second weekend shut down the main chairlift for a day, but repairs got it up and running by the following weekend. The resort operates daily Dec. 18-Jan. 2 and resumes its regular Thursday through Sunday schedule in January.

Kelly Canyon Ski Resort opened Dec. 15 with daily operation through Jan. 2, except for a Christmas day closure. The resort stays open until 9:30 p.m. for night skiing, except for Christmas Eve and Sundays. It settles into its post-holiday schedule in January, running lifts Tuesdays through Sundays, plus holidays.

Soldier Mountain Ski Area was aiming to start Dec. 18, but as of press time, the resort still needed a bit more snow to guarantee opening. After opening, it will run lifts daily through Jan. 2 and following the holidays, Thursdays through Sundays.