North America’s 2010-11 Ski Season is off to a great start with many areas opening early and reporting healthy snow falls. Among the resorts already open are Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain Colorado; Snowbird in Utah, Killington on the East Coast in Vermont and north of the border Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta.  Whistler has announced it will open nearly a week early, later today, thanks to the great pre-season conditions there. In California, Mammoth is the latest to open (On Thursday 11th November) with more than 2,000 people arriving to enjoy skiing and boarding down from the 11,053 foot summit via Cornice Bowl. Six lifts were operational and 2,000 vertical feet (about 650 metres) of vertical terrain were open on a base of 18 to 36 inches (45 to 90cm). [caption id="attachment_1616" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="First Chair 2010 - Mammoth Mountain"][/caption]

Another big Californian ski area, Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe, will open this Friday 19 November and two more, Northstar and Squaw Valley at the north end of Lake Tahoe, will open next day, this Saturday 20 November. “The early season vibe is buzzing with anticipation for another banner year with the predictions of a burly La Niña.” according to Carol Chaplin, executive director of Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, It’s an important time for US ski areas to open, ahead of the key Thanksgiving Holiday at the end of the month and good to get skiers and boarders excited for winter early too, whenever they plan to visit. In Colorado things are looking good too. Steamboat has had 23cm of new snow in the last 24 hours and has a 61cm (two foot) base.  It will open to the public on 24th November and more snow is expected over the next few days. [caption id="attachment_1617" align="aligncenter" width="220" caption="Director of skiing and Olympic & World Champion, Billy Kidd, enjoyed an early taste of Steamboat's signature Champagne Powder"][/caption] North of the border Lake Louise opened two weeks ago with a new skier and boardercross course and Mt Norquay and Sunshine at Banff are also open. Whistler Mountain will open today, six days ahead of the planned date and Blackcomb Mountain will follow on Thursday, November 25. “New snow and low freezing levels, along with the hard work of our mountain operations, grooming, and snowmaking teams mean we can open Whistler Mountain on Friday, November 19,” says Doug MacFarlane, mountain manager at Whistler Blackcomb. “Though early season conditions will apply, having those first few turns of the season is a great feeling and we’re happy to make that happen for our guests six days earlier than planned.” Most of western North America hopes to benefit from a snowy abundance all winter thanks to the La Niña  weather system.