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.