A pre-season guide to curing summer bluesby Jackie Baker
The snow guns are fired up and the race to be the first North American ski resort open for the 2004-2005 season has begun. Well, actually, the race is already over. Silverton Mountain, CO opened its lift Sept. 4, allowing a few lucky riders to get the earliest pow turns on the continent. Silverton wonít officially open until Dec. 16.
Knee-deep on September 5, 2005: Silverton, Colorado.
Donít think one day of lift served counts? Then head up to Timberline, OR. Graced with a foot of fresh in late September, the northwest ski resort officially began its season Sept. 19. While itís only open weekends until the fall storm cycle kicks in, you can still polish your stem Christies on this, the most glorious of all white ribbons of death. Timberline closed for just one week this summer.
Timberline cheats in this race - it's got a glacier.
Think pow skiing on a glacier in September is cheating? Then sharpen your edges for the opening of the man-made human slalom fear-fest that is early season Colorado skiing. Itís not that bad, really. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland have both been blasting snow guns for several weeks now.
Loveland hanging onto the remnants of an early-season storm with all guns blazing.
Timberland and Silverton aside, Loveland seeks the distinction of being the first North American ski resort to commence full-time operation for the fifth year in a row. Though no date has been set by either A-Basin or Loveland, expect to be sliding along merrily long before Boreal, CA opens on Oct. 31.
At lower altitude than Loveland, Keystone is still sparse on snow.
Other early season leaders include Copper Mountain, CO (Nov. 5), Brighton, Brian Head and Park City Mountain Resort, UT (Nov. 13), and Keystone and Eldora, CO (Nov. 14). If youíre looking to make some real turns, like on slopes steeper than flat, youíll probably have to wait till at least November 20. By then Winterpark, CO, Alta, UT and Heavenly, CA will have put in a few days. Theyíll be joined by virtually every resort in existence by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. Of course, all dates listed are snow dependent. Want to ride sooner than later? Look to the sky and shake your booty to your favorite snow dance.