Looking for a fun way to burn some of those excess Thanksgiving calories? The Ogden area’s three ski resorts have got you covered.
Powder Mountain kicked off the 2011-12 ski and snowboard season Tuesday with the opening of its Sundown lift for night skiing. Its two neighbors to the west, Snowbasin and Wolf Mountain, will open portions of their slopes for day use on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
In keeping with tradition, Snowbasin has chosen Thanksgiving Day for its opener. The Little Cat and Needles Gondola lifts will begin running at 9 a.m., with several groomed runs in the beginner-to-intermediate range.
Snowbasin has received more than 12 inches of new snow since last Friday night, and has been making its own snow for several weeks to create a base averaging between 18 and 24 inches on top to bottom runs.
Resort officials warn that there are still many obstacles on non-groomed runs and objects hidden under the surface. For safety reasons, hiking is no longer being permitted because of snowmaking, avalanche control, and grooming on the mountain.
Wolf Mountain will open a portion of its 110-acre ski mountain Friday. New to Utah’s smallest and least expensive resort this year are some interior renovations in the barn lodge and a new cable on the popular Wolfdeedo Lift.
Like Snowbasin, Wolf Mountain uses snowmaking equipment to supplement nature’s bounty and provide some insurance in times of lean snowfall. However, a La Nina weather pattern has resorts salivating at the prospect of another season like the last one, when record snowfall blanketed much of the Wasatch Mountains and allowed some to keep lifts running well into spring and even early summer.
For Powder Mountain, which doesn’t use snowmaking equipment, ample natural snowfall is especially important. The resort will likely need another good storm or two before it can open its day operations, but is offering night skiing beginning at 3 p.m. daily until more snow arrives.
Because only portions of the slopes will be open in the earliest days of the season, ticket prices have been reduced until more terrain opens to the public.
Early-season ticket rates at Snowbasin will range from $34 for youth to $58 for adults. Wolf Mountain’s initial prices range from $20 to $35 for adults and $14 to $22 for children, while night skiing at Powder Mountain costs between $15 and $18.
Resort officials are keenly aware that many locals and would-be visitors are struggling with the economy, and are offering everything from discounted gift cards to package deals that include lessons, lift tickets and rental equipment in an attempt to make the sport accessible to the average family.
“There are many Utah families who are under the perception that skiing is only for the wealthy,” said Jeremy Maughan, marketing director for Wolf Creek Resort, which operates Wolf Mountain. “The truth is, Wolf Mountain has several packages that include lessons and ski rental, so entire families can get a taste of skiing without having to purchase the equipment.”
The other local resorts offer similar deals for luring first-time skiers and snowboarders.
As of today, half of Utah’s 14 ski resorts are operating at least one lift. In addition to Powder Mountain, resorts that have already opened for the season include Alta, Brian Head, Brighton, Park City Mountain Resort, Snowbird and Solitude.
The Canyons will open Friday, followed by Deer Valley on Dec. 3 and Sundance on Dec. 9. Beaver Mountain in Logan Canyon and Eagle Point in Southern Utah have yet to announce opening dates.