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Bomb’s Away! — Sierra Resorts Set to Open

by Dan Giesin | October 26, 2021

A bomb cyclone washed ashore on the West Coast last weekend and exploded all over Northern California.

As a results, the folks at Mammoth Mountain and Palisades Tahoe will be having a blast.

The monster storm that ravaged California was a result of an atmospheric river of rain colliding with a plunging barometer — the barometer dropped 945.2 mb which is equivalent to the central pressure of a strong hurricane. This extremely rare, for California, phenomenon produced record rainfall — Truckee, a dozen miles north of Lake Tahoe, for instance, received an unheard of 5.59 inches of rain in 24 hours on Sunday — and howling winds, some of which hit 140 mph over the Sierra Nevada crest.

The storm started out warm, with snow levels around 9,000-10,000 feet, but as early Monday rolled round, the temperatures dropped and along with it massive amounts of snow. As much as 4 feet or more were recorded in some locales.

Early Jump on Season

Mammoth, which because of the anticipated storm announced late last week an  earlier opening date than the originally scheduled Nov. 12 slot, said that Friday, Oct. 9, is the day they’ll start spinning the lifts for the 2021-22 season.

Mammoth will crank up the Broadway and Face Lift chairs  — a.k.a. Chairs 1 and 3 which are both high-speed detachable lifts serving intermediate and advanced runs — and the lower section of the Panorama gondola. There is also speculation that there is enough snow on the Cornice to enable the top section of the two-stage gondola to open, hauling skiers and snowboarders to the top of the 11,053-foot mountain and providing them with more than 2,000 vertical feet of fun.

Meanwhile, Palisades Tahoe said it will open the Olympic Valley (née Squaw Valley) segment of the two-resort complex on Friday, Oct. 9, firing up the Funitel and the Gold Coast and Shirley Lake express lifts. The opener, which takes place nearly a month before its original schedule, marks only the third time in the resort’s 72-year history that Olympic Valley has spun its lifts in October.

Quite a Handful

Mammoth and Olympic Valley will be the fourth and fifth resorts in the United States to open for the season, following a trio Colorado hills that starting their spinning lifts in mid-October.

Keystone, which has 3 lifts and a couple of trails open, and Wolf Creek, which has very limited operations on weekends, both got things started on Oct. 16, while A-Basin, with one run and one lift, followed suit a day later. 

As the storm moves east, it is expected to dump significant amounts of snow on the Wasatch and the north and central Rockies over the next few days. As a result, Loveland, also in Colorado, is hoping to open by this weekend and will make that announcement in the next couple of days.

Despite the big blast, most Western resorts are sticking to their original game plans with fewer than a dozen more expecting to open by Thanksgiving. Mt. Rose has circled Nov. 6 as the kick off to their season, followed by Vail, Breckenridge and Boreal on Nov. 12; Heavenly, Northstar and Park City on Nov. 19, and Killington, Solitude and Alta on Nov. 20.

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