El Niño kicks in, Heavenly & Northstar open early

snow action team 10.11.2015

El Niño – naughty boy to some (when he give Australia drought very naughty) but saviour to others – including California in general as their drought looks set to break and skiers in particular with big early dumps allowing Lake Tahoe favourites Heavenly and Northstar to open early this saturday 14 November. Forecasts are calling for another storm to hit the region Monday night.

Heavenly looking good

Heavenly looking good

“We’ve already received about three feet of snow overall this season which, combined with around-the-clock operation from the West Coast’s two largest snowmaking systems, has created a great early-season base and the best snow surface conditions at Lake Tahoe,” said Pete Sonntag, Tahoe region vice president and chief operating officer.
This is the earliest the resorts have opened since 2012, and the first time opening six days ahead of schedule since at least 2009. Heavenly plans to operate the Gondola, Tamarack Express and Dipper Express, accessing upper California Trail and Orion’s, which, at over a mile long, will be the longest run available in the Tahoe basin. Northstar will open top-to-bottom, spinning the Big Springs Gondola, Vista Express, Arrow Express and Comstock Express accessing West Ridge, Luggi’s, Skid, Pinball, Lumberjack and Lower Main Street. Northstar will also operate a surface lift near the Big Easy Chair to offer children’s ski and snowboard lessons.
Kirkwood received 18 inches (46 centimetres) of new snow overnight at its summit. Resort officials have yet to determine if they will open Kirkwood prior to its Nov. 21 opening day.

For those who don’t already have a Perisher Freedom Pass from the 2015 season ready to rock all season at both these resorts the Epic Pass is available until Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015.

· The Epic Pass™: Ski as much as you want, whenever you want for US$809. The Epic Pass pays for itself in less than five days of skiing or riding. With more than 32,000 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain, this pass can’t be beat. It features unlimited, unrestricted access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Perisher in Australia for the 2016 season there; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and up to five free consecutive days when staying at in-resort accommodations at Verbier, Switzerland. No restricted dates. A child pass (ages five to 12) is US$419.