Finally winter is here! A handful of alpine ski resorts are opening their winter ski areas this week and next.
Glacier ski areas have been open for weeks now, but it's the first winter ski area openings that always signal the official start of the ski season.
OnTheSnow brings you all the November ski opening dates and the latest snow reports from the Alps.
Solden ski resort - Now open!
On Oct. 31, Solden declared it was Austria's first winter ski area to open, with a total of 16 lifts in operation. In addition to the 10 lifts on the glacier ski area, the following six in the winter ski area are in operation: 8EUB Giggijoch; 4SK Silberbrünnl; 8SK Giggijoch; 4SL Seekogl; 4SK Einzeiger; and 8EUB Gletscherexpress. Full-priced winter ski pass rates kick in Nov. 17; an adult pass will cost €45,50. Solden has a good blanket of snow already, with 88cm at the top (3,000m) and 40cm further down (2,525m). See OnTheSnow's Solden snow report.
Obergurgl ski resort - Now open!
At the end of October Obergurgl-Hochgurgl was inundated with powder – 60cm in 24 hours, laying a great base for things to come. Obergurgl is always one of the first non-glacial ski areas to open each winter, thanks to its high base and very high slopes (1,793-3,082m). The ski resort is celebrating its opening this year with a fun-packed 11 days of live music, family activities and reduced ski passes. All adults skiers pay senior rates Nov. 15-25. The ski resort is also offering a 20 percent discount on ski rental in all its sports shops during these 11 days. Obergurgl currently has 70cm of powder snow on the upper slopes and 35cm further down. See OnTheSnow's Obergurgl snow report.
Zermatt ski resort - Now open!
Zermatt's Matterhorn Glacier Paradise has been up and running since June, but this Saturday the resort plans to give the green light to open a whopping 75 kilometres of ski slopes. Zermatt is currently reporting 40cm of powder snow on the mountain and 5cm on the slopes. See OnTheSnow's Zermatt snow report
Faloria ski area - Cortina opens Thursday, Nov. 22
The season kicks off in the Cortina valley with the opening of the Faloria ski area on Thuresday. First out is the Tondi slope with the Faloria cable car, the Tondi ski lift and the VItelli chairlift. From Dec. 1 it's hoped that all Cortina ski areas will be open. See OnTheSnow's Cortina snow report
Crans Montana ski resort opens Saturday, Nov. 24
Crans Montana opens its winter ski area this Saturday. It's celebrating by offering an early bird ski and stay package for CHF410 for two people. It includes one night's accommodation in a three-star hotel, half-board meals, day lift tickets and lunch on the slopes. The package is valid until Dec. 19, 2012. See OnTheSnow's Crans Montana snow report
Verbier ski resort opens Saturday, Nov. 24
From Saturday, Verbier will open the Telecabine Le Chable - Verbier and the Telecabine Verbier - Les Ruinettes between 8.40 a.m. and 4.15 p.m. See OnTheSnow's Verbier snow report
Montgenvre ski resort opens Saturday, Nov. 17-18 & 24-25
After clocking up a metre of snow, the Milky Way resort of Montgenevre is opening for weekend skiing this weekend and next, with 10 runs available, then fully opening from Dec. 1. See OnTheSnow's Montgenevre snow report
Ischgl ski resort opens Friday, Nov. 23
Ischgl's ski opening is celebrated in a week-long Festival Opening Week starting next Friday. Over the week, four concerts featuring international acts will take place, including German cult rock band The Scorpions at the legendary Top of the Mountain Concert, and admission is free with a valid ski pass. From Nov. 23, Ischgl's lifts will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The resort currently has 60cm of snow at the top of the mountain and 10cm further down. See OnTheSnow's Ischgl snow report.
Val Thorens ski resort opens Saturday, Nov. 24
Val Tho kicks off the ski season Nov. 24 with the Ski Force Winter Tour. The two-day Ski Force Winter Tour is a chance to test the new models from more than 16 leading ski manufacturers for free and benefit from professional advice. Val Thorens is offering a two-night Ski Force Winter Tour deal starting from €84 per person. It includes two nights' accommodation, a two-day ski pass for Val Thorens-Orelle, and free testing of ski equipment. Val Thorens currently has 60cm at the top of the mountain and 30cm further down. See OnTheSnow's Val Thorens snow report.
Schladming ski resort opens Friday, Nov. 30
Headlining at this year's ski opening will be the Swedish House Mafia, three top DJs who will be performing on the Planai Nov. 30. Schladming is currently reporting powder snow conditions on the Planai-Hochwurzen, with 40cm at the top of the mountain and 30cm further down. See OnTheSnow's Schladming snow report
St Anton ski resort opens Friday, Nov. 30
To celebrate the start of the ski season, St Anton is hosting the Free XXL Ski and Snowboard test, with equipment from 19 top brands, and live music from 8 p.m. in the WM-Halle. Admission is free. St. Anton currently has 15cm of snow. See OnTheSnow's St. Anton snow report.