First in New England to open that is… While most ski areas will not get their lifts turning until mid December, there are handfuls that are annually clicking on some cylinders by November. Thus offering reprieve after spending a joyful day with the family drinking wine and eating turkey.
Sugarloaf, from RSN
Mid November: This time of year—stick season—Old Man Winter is a solid month away from walking through that door. To get snow on the trails requires a little cooperation from Mother Nature, specifically Cold Air. These resorts that vie for the title, and the accolades from the press that come with, only need the ability to light up the guns of their enormous (or adequate) snowmaking systems. Presto, skiing and riding for the brave, insane or delusional amongst us.
Granted, being on artificial snow when there is still exposed dirt and leaves on a preponderance of terrain does not quite hold the same charm as a sunny mid March day; but you are out there, when others are at home watching television.
Bare minimum, early season turns prepare you mentally and physically for the long powder crusade ahead. Whether you are the overconfident owner of a season pass or a bargain hunter looking to take advantage of early deals; get out and shred, rip, point-em or do whatever it is that makes you beam.
Here is a rundown of the perennial favorites and the Guru line on who will walk away with this season’s prize.
Appearing in alphabetical order
Bretton Woods, NH: Projection 11/4. I will tell you this; the resort gets a lot of snow as a result of storm systems crashing into the White Mountains to the East. I skied a day there last season. When I woke up and it was snowing. When I left it was snowing. Then as I crossed the mountains on my way to North Conway—sunshine. Maybe having Bode on board helps. Odds: 2-1
Killington, VT: Projection 11/11. It is going to be a challenge for anyone to take this coveted prize away from the Beast of the East. As always they will start with North Ridge and work down to the K-1 Lodge. Odds: Even $
Okemo, VT: Projection 11/5. Bold, extremely bold. This mountain means business and they are willing to do whatever it takes for their clientele. All season they will lay down the white gold with the best of them. The risk they take, losing all the hard early work to bad ski weather. Odds: 2-1
Sugarloaf, ME: Projection 11/18. They usually get their best snowfall in March and April. But the global weather has been a mess since that Pacific earthquake last Christmas. Who knows, maybe they get dumped early. The only problem is that no body but the Carrabassett Academy kids and employees will be there to enjoy it. Odds: 8-1
Sunday River, ME: Projection 11/ 11. They make snow up in Bethel as well as anyone else in the game. The resort averages 155 inches a season so they have no other choice. The only thing holding them back could be corporate politics. Odds: 4-1
Wachusett, MA: Projection 11/25. Representing the Bay State I have no doubt that they will make the date set work. With some freak meteorological phenomena maybe they win this race. Stranger things have happened and they will blow snow. Odds: 10-1
Woodbury, CT: Projection 10/? or 11/?. The wild card, two seasons ago they stole the crown and last year they tied K~town, but opened about 4 hours later in the day. I called these guys to hear the story. Supposedly the river they draw water out of runs very cold and it allows them to crack out snow/slush in temps as high as 36°F. Chemically enhanced? No comment. Odds: 3-1
Yawgoo Valley, RI: Projection 12/3. The dark horse. But look what happened last December. Southern New England got buried and the North missed out. Could it happen again? Odds: 33-1
Mount Washington Hotel and range, photo S.G.
There are a handful of others in VT taking aim at 11/19/05 and likewise in NH on 11/25/05…Check your favorite mountains website or Snow Country to keep current with announcements and changes.
One thing to remember: When it does dump early on us this season, the places with the best snowmaking will do the bases and edges of your brand new skies the most justice.
Think Snow, artificial or real.