Resorts rejoice in early season |

Resorts rejoice in early season

With last weekend’s bounty of snow, Lake Tahoe ski areas got the lift they needed to follow Boreal Mountain Resort’s lead and open early.

Leading the pack, Alpine Meadows will open its Kangaroo double chair through Friday for $20. The next day, the Roundhouse high-speed quad will be added and full-day lift tickets will sell for $28 for adults, $19 for teen-agers, $16 for seniors ages 65-69, and $6 for seniors over 70 years of age and children under age 6. No half-day passes will be offered.

The mountain has collected 26 inches at its base and up to four feet at the top, Director of Skiing Services Greg Phelps reported from the Tahoe City resort.

On the South Shore on U.S. Highway 50, Sierra-At-Tahoe will boast the earliest opening in the resort’s history this Friday, promising modest but skiable conditions.

It received a foot of snow at the base and 18 inches at the summit.

“It’s laying down nicely, and we have full coverage,” Sierra’s Grooming Supervisor Johnny Morris said.

Opening day offers “free snowsporting,” with Easy Rider and Rock Garden lifts turning at noon. Nob Hill is due to open this weekend, which will bring lift ticket prices discounted to half-day rates. Tickets for adults over 22 years old will be $35. Those ages between 13 and 22 will pay $28.

For frequent flyers, Sierra is also offering a new season pass for $259 that excludes Saturdays and holidays.

Also opening on Friday is Sugar Bowl Ski Area in Truckee, with three feet of snow on the ground. Tickets are $32 for adults on Friday and $40 this weekend.

Other ski areas, excited by the prospect of a good winter ski season, are anticipating their upcoming openings.

Royal Gorge, the nation’s largest cross country ski resort, plans to open along with Soda Springs Ski Resort on Nov. 11. Northstar-At-Tahoe, Squaw Valley and Kirkwood plan to open Nov. 18. Heavenly expects to kick off the year by Thanksgiving, when most ski areas traditionally open.

One of the strongest October storms in years dumped an average two feet of snow in the Tahoe region.

Boreal, the only resort currently open in Tahoe and the first to open in the nation on Oct. 10, reported large weekend crowds drawn by top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding on light, dry powder.

“We’re really excited because we have the conditions we usually don’t get until December,” Boreal spokeswoman Judy Churich said. “Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come this winter.”

Powder dreams may continue, according to state climatologist Maury Roos.

October’s precipitation shows a month coming in at 160 percent of normal, Roos reported.

Forget the remainder of the Indian summer, he said of this latest cooling trend.

Meteorologists are calling for the arrival of another system that should bring snow showers Wednesday, with strong northeasterly winds blowing into the area Thursday and Friday.

“We’re off to a good start, and let’s hope it continues,” National Weather Service forecaster Ray Collins said.

Even area businesses got in on the act. A mini snowman stood erect on a picnic table outside Port of Subs on the South Shore.

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