Northstar California Resort cancels Thanksgiving Day opener
Special to The Union
For a second time this season, Northstar California Resort has been forced to push back its anticipated opening date, this time nixing guest plans for Thanksgiving Day riding.
The resort announced Wednesday, that its anticipated 2017-18 season opening, which was scheduled for the following day, would be moved to a later date due to insufficient snow coverage on the mountain.
Northstar, which is operated by Vail Resorts Management Company, said it will announce a new season opening date on Monday, Nov. 27. The resort opened on Nov. 23 last year.
Vail Resorts Management Company’s two other local properties, Heavenly Mountain Resort and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, are both already open.
Heavenly became the first ski mountain to open on the South Shore, when it fired up lifts on Friday, Nov. 17. The resort now has four lifts and seven trails open as of Wednesday, Nov. 22, and a reported 23 inches of snowfall for the season.
Further south, Kirkwood opened its slopes to skiers and snowboarders on Wednesday, Nov 22, with Snowkirk, Solitude, Cornice Express, and The Reut chairlifts giving riders access to five open trails and roughly 350 acres of skiable terrain. The resort has reported 24 inches of snow so far this season.
“Due to the recent storms and cold temperatures for snowmaking over this past weekend, the Kirkwood mountain operations team was able to prepare the mountain for top-to-bottom skiing and riding in time for Wednesday’s opening,” said Doug Pierini, general manager of Kirkwood Mountain Resort, in a statement. “It’s an excellent start to the season and provides Lake Tahoe guests with one of the best options for skiing and riding leading into the Thanksgiving holiday.”
To start the year, the resort emphasized that guests must observe all posted signs and closures, especially during the early season. Closed trails may contain hazards due to early snow coverage. Any questions regarding uphill travel routes and mountain access should be directed to 209-258-7444.
For the latest information on Vail Resort’s three local mountains or for lift tickets and passes, visit NorthstarCalifornia.com, SkiHeavenly.com, and Kirkwood.com.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows open
Squaw Valley Coming off the shortest offseason in its history at four months and one day, Squaw Valley welcomed the season’s first riders to the upper mountain on Nov. 17 after a fresh dumping of snow gave skiers and snowboarders the chance to hop on the Gold Coast lift for hours of untouched lines and beautiful conditions.
The resort reported 7 inches of snow in the 24 hours preceding the start to the season, which resulted in fresh tracks and good coverage in the trees for the hundreds of skiers and snowboarders that hit the mountain for the opener.
“It was better than I expected. Obviously it would be nice to have more of the mountain open, but I’ll take it. I’m pretty impressed,” said Chris Butz, who was up from the Bay Area with his wife.
“Usually you expect on opening day, you’re going to get some scrapes on the bottom of the board. I hit maybe one tree branch, but I didn’t see any rocks at all.”
Butz and his wife Carrie escaped with their three boys and headed to Squaw to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. The opening day was the first the two had participated in together.
The couple said they usually snowboard, but started the day on skis — something neither had done in roughly two decades. However, a short time on the mountain and some spills were enough to convince them to switch back to snowboards.
“I hadn’t snowboarded in 10 years either,” said Carrie Butz. “But once I got the board, it was much better.”
The resort’s other property, Alpine Meadows, opened the following day under blue skies with skiers and snowboarders taking the Kangaroo lift up for the first action of the season.
Squaw Valley was operating eight lifts as of Tuesday, according to information from the resort, which give skiers and snowboarders access to 34 open trails and 15 groomed runs. Alpine Meadows has two lifts open as of Tuesday, and one open trail. Squaw reported a 29-inch base at the upper mountain on Tuesday, while Alpine came in at 28 inches.
Soda Springs opens playground, not lifts
Just west of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, sits the longest running ski resort in California, Soda Springs Mountain Resort.
The resort has yet to begin spinning lifts for the season, but has opened its Planet Kids snow playground, which features tubing carousels, snow-tubing lanes, snow volcanoes to climb and ski and snowboard specific learning areas.
For more information and the latest on lift tickets, season passes, and trail openings, visit SkiSodaSprings.com.
Nearby, Sugar Bowl has yet to announce a date for opening day.
“Opening Day is still off in our future,” the resort website states. “The last couple of storms dropped several feet of snow on the higher elevations of Sugar Bowl, but we did not receive enough accumulation at the base of the mountain to open for the season. All of our operations and teams are ready to go as soon as snowmaking temperatures return or we receive more snow in the base area.”
Visit SugarBowl.com for more information.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union based in Truckee.
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