When they've got the snow, we might as well ski it. Whistler Mountain announced today that the ski area will open early, on Saturday November 17. Two Gondalas will provide access to 1,800 vertical feet of skiing on five total lifts. Sister hill Blackcomb, however, isn't moving up its timeline; it opens for business on (American) Thanksgiving, November 22.
A heavy natural snowfall is to thank for the early access to Whistler's slopes, but as with most opening days, only some of the terrain is skiable. Downloading will be mandatory (in other words, you can't ski all the way down to your apres beer). But there will be freebies for the first 1,500 skiiers on Opening Day.
The news comes the day before the resort's deadline for early booking deals. The five-night packages include four days of skiing, and discounts are up to 39%. Kids ski free, and equipment rentals are half off. Those prices end tomorrow.
But wait! What if you don't feel so clearly Canadian? Here's the dirt on local ski area opening dates:
• Snoqualmie Pass: No posted opening date yet, and webcams show that there's clearly not enough white stuff yet. But tomorrow starting at 7pm, bands, film screenings, and a raffle mark the beginning of winter with Snowbash 2012. Tomorrow is also the deadline for the lowest lesson plan prices. [UPDATE 11/27/12: Still no official word from the folks at Snoqualmie, but the Snowline (206-236-1600) says they're "Hoping it won't be long." Season passholders can get a $30 ticket to Crystal through Friday.]
• Crystal Mountain: The snow guns are already making snow at the resort's base. They need two feet to open and right now the base is only at three inches. Patience. [UPDATE 11/27/12: Six lifts, including the gondola, are open at Crystal, with only intermediate and advanced terrain accessible. Lift tickets are discounted to $55, or $63 with gondola access.]
• Stevens Pass: The ski area reported a foot of fresh snow at the base on Monday; they'll open when they get around 36 inches. [UPDATE 11/27/12: Stevens is open with three lifts, and tickets are down to $39 for the limited access.]
• Mission Ridge: Things are on track for the eastside mountain's grand opening on Friday, November 23. Take a look at the sun and snow on the mountain's Facebook page. [UPDATE 11/27/12: As expected, Mission Ridge opened last week, and will again have limited lifts running on Friday, November 30. The mountain opens only Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until mid-December.]
• White Pass: There are only eight to ten inches at the base right now, so they say they expect to open sometime after Thanksgiving. [UPDATE 11/27/12: Despite their snowmaking, White Pass still has only eight inches at the base. Opening day will be "soon," but is as yet unannounced.]