The snow has begun falling and the mountain resorts are popping into life. We won't know until this morning how much natural snow we've received from this storm, but it can't help but open more trails and lifts. Here's a quick roundup for local mountain resorts via the AP:
Alpine Meadows - Reopen 12/08; Boreal - Ten of 42 trails, 45 percent open, two of nine lifts; Heavenly - Three of 91 trails, 3 percent open, four of 30 lifts; June - Plan to Open 12/15; Kirkwood - Two of 65 trails, 6 percent open, 2 acres, one of 12 lifts; Mammoth - Fourteen of 150 trails, 5 percent open, 175 acres, seven of 29 lifts.
Northstar at Tahoe - Nine of 83 trails, 2 percent open, 50 acres, six of 17 lifts; Royal Gorge - Plan to Open TBA; Sierra at Tahoe - Plan to Open TBA; Squaw Valley USA - Open Saturday and Sundays, no details; Sugar Bowl - Open Saturday and Sundays, no details; Tahoe Donner - Plan to Open 12/14; Royal Gorge XC - Plan to Open TBA; Tahoe XC - Plan to Open TBA.
Diamond Peak - Plan to Open 12/13; Mt. Rose - Planned to open yesterday, one trail, one lift.
So hang by your thumbs and maybe give your ski and snowboard wax one more polish.
RESORTS UNHAPPY WITH GRADES
Some mountain resorts around the Sierra Nevada are criticizing the results of an annual environmental scorecard released by conservationists.
The Ski Area Citizens Coalition, comprising Colorado Wild, the Crystal Conservation Coalition, Friends of the Inyo and the Sierra Nevada Alliance, gave Kirkwood Mountain Resort an "F" grade for the second straight year.
Heavenly Mountain Resort remained at a "C" for the year, and Sierra-at-Tahoe dropped from an "A" to a "B" since last year.
And so forth. The resorts have to grow and make a profit, and that means usually selling real estate and adding new features - run, halfpipes, terrain parks. And naturally, those things create pollution and mountain damage.
But growth is everything in the capitalistic society, so the building will go on.
Kirkwood got hit because of more condos and ski trails. So did Northstar (with a Ritz Carlton Hotel a building). Heavenly was lucky that the new hotel and convention center didn't count against it, but that development's a big one, right off the lake.
If this late opening season is a reflection of the global warming crisis, you can bet that high-altitude lifts will be coming.
Well, you ski or save the planet. Not that the choice is mutually contradicted.
SQUAW LIGHTS UP
Squaw Valley's annual Festival of Lights, Santa Claus on skis, holiday caroling, live music, and a festive Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade are all part of the yuletide action at Squaw Valley.
Holiday caroling and live musical performances take place regularly in the base village throughout the holidays. Starting Dec. 15 Santa and Christmas Carolers will be visiting the Village every weekend.
At dusk on Christmas Eve, guests are treated to a special torchlight parade. A traditional family favorite, the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade can be seen from anywhere in the Village or Squaw Valley base area. Watch as Squaw Valley Ski School instructors descend the lower mountain carrying lit torches.
Starting Friday Dec. 21, Squaw Valley opens for night skiing and riding until 9 p.m. Night skiing is free with any half or full day lift ticket.
RIM TRAIL IN WINTER
Snowshoes are in vogue for hiking in the winter, and the Rim Trail folk have a full winter of treks. First off is Saturday Jan. 12, National Trails Day, at Tahoe Meadows at 10 a.m. There's a hike along with a safety lecture. On Jan 19, same time and place, it's another hike. Contact Alexis Ollar at (775) 298-0232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.