Cars may have started filling Snowbird's parking lot at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, but the resort's opening day lift line began forming well before daylight cracked into Little Cottonwood Canyon.
A handful of Snowbird's top athletes headed up to Snowbird on Wednesday evening to gather for a grown-up slumber party, just a few yards from the base of the Gadzoom lift. Cold temperatures were warded off by a small fire and plenty of early season hype until late in the night, when athletes began huddling into their sub-zero sleeping bags inside a yurt to rest up for an early morning start.
But however convenient the slopeside accommodations were, only one of Snowbird's athletes, big mountain skier Rachael Burks, managed to claim first chair title and lay fresh tracks under the Gadzoom lift.
Thanks to a recent 50-inch storm and ongoing snowmaking, the season opened with top-to-bottom coverage on Gadzoom, Mid-Gad and Chickadee lifts and rippin' fast corduroy runs. Ungroomed terrain is still exposed in areas, but last week's snowfall provided a relatively consistent foundation for eager skiers and riders to explore beyond high-speed turns.
Operating with a reported 28-inch base, Snowbird will continue to open more terrain throughout the weekend, including the Aerial Tram with access to Regulator Johnson on Saturday, Nov. 17, as conditions permit. Early season adult day rates are $74 at Snowbird's ticket window, or $69 at various ski shops in Salt Lake City.