Opening day draws 7,000 

Series of storms expected to bring snow all week

One of the best opening days in years was welcomed by approximately 7,000 skiers and boarders who got their first turns of the season on Whistler Mountain Saturday.

With a base of 130 centimetres and six lifts in operation more than 1,000 acres of terrain were open for those keen to get back on the boards. Some arrived as early as 4:30 a.m. to get first tracks.

“We had a big day for our first day of the season,” said Christina Moore, public relations and communications manager for Whistler-Blackcomb. “We had about 1,000 staff members on the mountain and approximately 6,000 guests.”

A series of storms has hit the B.C. coast the last two weeks, and more storms are expected to arrive this week. While the Lower Mainland has experienced periods of heavy rainfall, most of the precipitation has fallen as snow on Whistler and Blackcomb.

Sunday brought warmer temperatures and high winds but there was more new snow Monday morning.

“We closed the lifts at about 2:30 Sunday, a half-hour early, because of winds gusting up to 80 km/h,” Moore said. Lifts were on standby for much of the day and it did rain up to the Roundhouse for a period. But as temperatures dropped the precipitation turned to snow.

The forecast Monday morning was for a series of low pressure systems to hit Whistler throughout this week. The freezing level is expected to remain near the valley bottom and snow is forecast every day through Friday, including accumulations of 30-40 cm on Tuesday.

Whistler Mountain is operating daily, with access from the village and Creekside. Mid-mountain lifts in operation this week include the Emerald, Red, Garbanzo and Franz’s chairs. The base was listed as XX Monday.

Blackcomb will open for the season on Thursday, Nov. 23, in time for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

Moore said a decision on opening lifts in the alpine will be made later today or Tuesday, but Whistler-Blackcomb is hoping to open the Glacier Express chair on Blackcomb Friday and have Whistler Mountain’s Peak Chair running on Saturday.

While anticipation of the ski season has been palpable in Whistler for the last week or two, Moore said stories about Whistler in last weekend’s New York Times, Globe and Mail and Vancouver Sun newspapers should help fuel interest and skier visits this weekend and for the rest of the winter.


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