Share story

Skiers and snowboarders can get a head start on hitting the slopes as Whistler-Blackcomb Resort announced they will open for the winter season on Wednesday (Nov. 23).

The opener at the mega-resort comes one day earlier than planned due to recent colder temperatures and snowfall, and forecast calls for about 18 inches of snow to fall through early next week.

The base is 34 inches at the Pig Alley weather station, which sits at an elevation of 5,413 feet on Whistler Mountain. The mountain has received 33 inches of snow since Nov. 1.

“With recent colder temperatures, our snowmaking team has been able to give Mother Nature a helping hand in preparations for opening day,” Doug MacFarlane, Director of Mountain Operations at Whistler Blackcomb said in a news release. “We know there are many skiers and snowboarders anxiously waiting for the season to start and are excited to get them out there.”

On Wednesday (Nov. 23), visitors can upload at Whistler Mountain via the Whistler Village Gondola or Creekside Gondola starting at 8:30 a.m. with last upload from the valley at 2 p.m. The lifts will be running through 3 p.m. with a mandatory download in effect on both gondolas due to a lack of snow and hazardous conditions on the lower mountainside.

On Thursday (Nov. 24), Blackcomb Mountain will open with uploading on the Excalibur Gondola and Excelerator Express, plus the Wizard Express and Solar Coaster Express. Lifts will open at 8:30 a.m. with last with last upload from the valley at 2 p.m. The lifts will be running through 3 p.m. with a mandatory download in effect on both gondolas due to a lack of snow and hazardous conditions on the lower mountainside.

For more information on purchasing tickets, go to https://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/purchase/tickets-and-passes/winter-lift-tickets.

As for Washington ski areas, many ski areas received some snow from the most recent storms this past week.

Places like Stevens Pass, Crystal Mountain, Mount Baker, White Pass and Mission Ridge are gearing up for possible early openings if the stars align.

“Right now we are targeting sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend, but the real question mark is we don’t know how much rain or snow we’ll get this weekend,” said Chris Danforth, the vice president of marketing at Stevens Pass Resort.

The mid-mountain snow depth at Stevens Pass is 12 inches with a depth base at the lodge of 9 inches.

At the Mount Baker Ski Area, the snow depth at the top of Chair 8 received 16 inches on Wednesday with a depth of 9 to 11 inches at the Heather Meadows base area.

Another 10 inches is expected to fall by Sunday, but that would still not leave enough to open and needs about 18 to 30 inches at the base.

The long range forecast for Mount Baker area is up to two feet of snow to fall by Thanksgiving Day into Friday.

To the south, Crystal Mountain Resort is on standby and staff is doing the snow dance in hopes of an early-season opener.

“It is cold so that is a good, and we’ve got 6 to 8 inches in Green Valley, which is not enough to open just yet,” said Tiana Anderson, the Crystal sales and marketing director. “We need about two feet of snow, and right now we’re a little more than halfway there.

Snowmaking guns are working overtime at Crystal to help supplement the base to give Mother Nature a boost.

To the east, the staff at Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort are working hard to maintain the hillsides for their planned opening.

“We are still shooting for (a Friday opener), and need a couple things to fall into place as far as Mother Nature goes, and if we cannot go on that day we’ll shoot for Dec. 2,” said Tony Hickok, a spokesman for Mission Ridge. “We are making snow from top to bottom, and are getting excited from seeing all the snow that we’ve gotten.”

The National Weather Service is predicting snow from Sunday through Wednesday in the northern Cascades with accumulations up to 9 inches.

In the Central Cascades, the lower elevations areas like the Summit at Snoqualmie will see rain likely through Wednesday melting away any chances, but higher elevation areas like Crystal Mountain and White Pass should see 3 to 8 inches of snow.