Heli-skiing is the latest snow sport to benefit from the great snow in BC with Great Canadian Heli-Skiing announcing that its first paying guests went heli‐skiing last Sunday, December 6th, three weeks before the normal start date! This lucky private party, which includes the only North American delegate to be invited to judge the snowboarding events at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, shows that amongst Great Canadian's guests, snow is definitely trumping the economy!
Due to numerous calls into Great Canadian Heli‐Skiing's office by guests demanding to come heli‐skiing in order to enjoy the amazing conditions, the decision was made to meet consumer demand by operating much earlier than scheduled. The next group of lucky skiers and boarders will arrive Friday, December 11th for a three day trip.
Further highlighting how snow is trumping the economy, November bookings to Great Canadian Heli‐Skiing were 30% higher than any other previous November and it was the second biggest month in the past six years.
In Alberta, Sunshine's famous Delirium Dive opened at the weekend, the earliest opening in its ten year history. As one of Sunshine Village's three freeride zones, the Dive offers some of the most extreme inbounds terrain in North America.
This week it was named one of the ‘World's Scariest Ski Slopes' by MSN, to add to its many other accolades.
"We've had fantastic snow this season enabling us to open the Dive earlier than ever before. Expert skiers and snowboarders will be very happy!" said Dan Markham, of Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine.
Within the Dive's 600 acres of terrain, natural features include 20 metre cornices, frozen waterfalls, stepped pillow drops, jagged rock spines, and 25 metre cliffs. These natural hazards are unmarked and exist throughout the area.
Skiers and snowboarders need to use good judgment, know their skill level, and understand that mountain conditions may change quickly. Entry is only permitted for those with a shovel, ntransceiver and buddy.
The Dive's opening adds to the expert terrain already available at The Lake Louise Ski Area and Mt. Norquay. Whitehorn 1, A Gulley and Ptarmigan Shoots are just some of Lake Louise's terrain already open for expert skiers and riders, with great powder conditions. Last weekend Mt. Norquay held a special early opening of the North American chair, offering access to the resorts infamous double-black diamond runs.
With some of the best snow in 30 years, the conditons at all three resorts are great on beginner and intermediate terrain too.
On the East Coast, which had suffered from warm weather and little snow, resorts have been able to open thanks to some fresh snow and temperatures cold enough for snowmaking. Mont-Sainte-Anne near Quebec City began operating for the 09-10 season at 8:30am last Saturday but with only one slope open to the public, the popular Quanik, adding another slope, La Paradeuse on Sunday and also a new cross-country skiing loop exclusively reserved to training, that will be set up on the west side of the summit. The 800 meter loop can be reached by the panoramic gondola and can accommodate up to 50 athletes simultaneously, in both skating and classic styles; a first of this kind in the East of the continent. The resort plans to open two other slopes in the next few days, La Printannière and La Mélanie Turgeon. Mont-Sainte-Anne is now open 7 days a week. Stoneham Mountain Resort opened on Sunday at 9 am, with its slope Les Pionniers and a small snow park set up at the base of the mountain for all freestyle fanatics. Mont Sutton to the south of the province is hoping to open this weekend.
Further south resorts have been opening in New England, including Sugarbush, Sugarloaf and Smugglers Notch - each using a combination of fresh natural snow and machine made white stuff.
In Western North America a big storm is tracking across the country bringing large snowfalls to California and now moving in to the Rocky Mountain bringing snow to resorts in Colorado and Utah. Squaw Valley reported a two-foot (60cm) accumulation on Monday, greatly improving conditions at the leading Californian resort.