Early ski season in North America

Whistler is open for business — with discounted prices for you early birds.

Two words: La Nina. It’s a weather pattern which put simply, dumps a tonne of snow on North America – particularly in the north west and northern California. Last year it led to record snowfalls in many resorts such as Mammoth and Whistler, British Columbia.  Although it’s not certain that La Nina will be back this year, the resort has already seen remarkable snowfall with skiers riding the Blackcomb glacier as early as Oct. 6. Whistler is due to open on Nov. 24 and the resort is currently offering savings of up to 36 percent on accommodation and lift pass packages if you book before  Nov. 15. If it could get through the snow, that early bird could catch a great worm (www.whistlerblackcomb.com).

Keystone, Colo.,, will be throwing open its pistes on Nov. 4 with early-season skiers reaping the benefits of sophisticated snowmaking, sheltered tree runs and a superb snowpark without the crowds. The resort shares the Epic pass with nearby Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Vail and A-Basin so good snow is not hard to find (www.keystone.com).

Grand Targhee, Wyoming saw 14.8 metres fall last season and its dry powder is the stuff of legends. The resort is so confident you will love it, it even offers a refund on your liftpass should your skiing be less than satisfactory (www.grandtarghee.com). Alta, Utah has a base elevation of 2,600 metres making skiing a definite possibility come Christmas, or before – it plans to open on 18 November (www.alta.com).

Three of the best powder resorts

Mount Baker, Wash
. (www.mtbaker.us)
In 1999 Mt Baker held the record for the most snowfall in a season – 29 metres. Last year the small resort (only nine chairlifts) recorded 21.7 metres with 2.6 metres falling in November. Want powder? Head west.

Jackson Hole, Wyo
.(www.jacksonhole.com)
If you like a bit of Wild West with your skiing then head to Jackson Hole. Its rustic frontier town feel hides some spectacular off-piste terrain and an impressive snow record, last year reaching almost 1.8 metres by December.

Revelstoke, British Columbia (www.revelstokemountainresort.com)
With over 1,214 hectares of skiable area and North America’s greatest vertical drop, this modest resort near Golden is a powder-hound Mecca offering heli and cat skiing from the village base to access some truly remarkable terrain.

Travelor’s tips

Eat
Empire Burger, in Breckenridge, Colorado is the perfect place to stop off mid-day: solid yet inventive burgers, decent prices and close to the bus stop. Job done. (www.empireburger.com)

Stay
Located on British Columbia’s ‘Powder Highway’ Revelstoke is the small resort with big powder stashes. If you’ve cash to splash the beautifully luxurious Bighorn lodge is new for 2011 and has it’s own spa, pool and 1,263 hectares of terrain on its doorstep. (www.bighornrevelstoke.com)

Learn
If you fancy upping your ski game Custom Coaching in Beaver Creek, Colorado, is launching an alpine ski coaching school for 2011/12 tackling tree runs, deep powder, bumps and steeps. Instruction is in a maximum group of four so when you faceplant not many people will see. (www.beavercreek.com).

Event
Snow-blessed Californian mountain, Mammoth, opens for business on 10 November and is celebrating with three days of music, events and giveaways with The Big Winter Kick Off. Expect snowboard film premieres, pro-riders and après tunes provided by visiting DJs. The Black Lips and Ra Ra Riot provide Sunday night’s soundtrack. (www.mammothmountain.com)


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