By Andrew Mitchell
Loppers, skaters, shufflers, and rabbits will have something to smile about this weekend.
Following a record November for snowfall, consolidated by a week of cold temperatures, the Lost Lake Cross Country Trails are preparing for an early opening this Friday, Dec. 1 — the earliest opening in several years. Because of the early season conditions and the fact that not all trails will be open, tickets to use the cross-country and snowshoe trails are available at half price — $7.50 for adults, $4.50 for youths and $3.75 for children. Preschoolers are free.
There is still not enough snow on the trails to use the snowcat groomer, but the core trails in the park will be groomed by snowmobile with tracks set for classic skiers and skate skiers on the Lost Lake Loop, Lower Panorama and Old Mill Road. More trails will be open as grooming continues.
“The snow is there, and we will have a product for Friday,” said Roger Weetman, manager of program services for the RMOW. “It’s an extremely early opening for us, and there are really excellent conditions for this time of year. We did get a chance to pack it in last week, and with the cold temperatures we have a really solid base.”
Early bird prices for season passes are still available until Dec. 3 at Meadow Park Sport Centre.
This year a regular season pass is $210, while early bird passes are available for $168 for adults. Youth early bird passes are $100.80, children’s passes are $84, and family passes are $336. After Dec. 3, youth passes go up to $126, children’s passes to $105, and family passes to $420.
Special night passes are also available, as well as books of tickets.
Adult resort employees who take the Whistler Chamber of Commerce spirit program can also get discounted passes for $147.
There are a few changes this year compared to past years. One change is that night skiing will start an hour earlier, at 3 p.m., and the lights around the 4 km Lost Lake loop will be turned off an hour earlier, at 9 p.m. The earlier start to night skiing now matches other cross-country ski areas, and the earlier closing was introduced give more time to the groomers.
The only access to the trails will be at the ticket booth at Lorimer and Blackcomb Way due to construction at the Mons Road entrance.
For information on trail conditions and prices, call 604-935-PLAY (7529) and press 2. Conditions will also be posted daily at 7:30 a.m. at www.whistler.ca and www.findwhistler.ca.