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Whitewater gets set for early opening

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

For those looking to get first tracks (legally) at Whitewater, mark this date on your calendar: Dec. 4.

The first weekend in December is expected to usher in a new season in paradise as Whitewater Ski Resort will deliver over 600 acres of new skiing, three new top-to-bottom intermediate runs, and the Glory Ridge chair lift (2,044 vertical feet), said the hill’s general manager, Brian Cusack.

Although initial predictions were for the third week of November, warmer temperatures haven’t brought the snow they should have, he said.

Even still, there hasn’t been a damper put on the start of the season, which will still start one week before it historically has.

“The long-term forecast is for a snowy, cooler winter with lots of storms, so I think we are looking for a remarkable season,” Cusack said.

The new lift will open by the 16th of December, with the final pieces of the lift and testing still yet to be completed this month. The galvanized metal triple lift was brought in from Vail, Col., at “a steal” of a price.

The Mountain opens fulltime on Dec. 11. Last year, thanks to a huge dump of snow in the middle of November, Whitewater opened in the third week of November.

Over 50 centimetres of snow have fallen on the top of the mountains at Whitewater, with around 20 cm. accumulating at the base.

Ski hills across the province are gearing up for an early season opening this month, with many hoping a La Nina weather cycle will bring record snows this year.

It is not yet clear how this year's cooler La Nina pattern will affect the ski season. In 2009, the warmer El Nino weather pattern led to mid November openings.

Sun Peaks, located north of Kamloops, is expected to open on Nov. 20 while Silver Star plans to open its Nordic ski tracks on Nov. 18 and the downhill area on Nov. 26.

Blackcomb’s official opening day is still set for Nov. 25, and Whistler is pegged for this Friday, but with freezing level at 1,200 metres and 68 centimetres of snow already on the slopes, Blackcomb could potentially open earlier.

In areas with heavy snowfall, changes are in the works. Backcountry skiers heading to Revelstoke’s Glacier National Park will find anyone entering a prohibited area or a winter restricted area that is closed could be hit with fines of $2,000.

For information on the Winter Permit System call 250-837-7500 or check out www.parkscanada.gc.ca/glacier.

editor@thenelsondaily.com

Note

The second annual Avalanche Awareness Beyond the Boundaries Society (AABBS) gear swap is coming up on Sunday, Nov. 21 at the Gravity Adventure Climbing Gym located at 513 Victoria St.

This is a swap for all gear: hiking, biking, back country, kayak, canoes. The best part about your purchase is 20 per cent of the proceeds will go to the AABBS.

AABBS is a non-for-profit society founded in the spring of 2009 by a group of Nelson ski industry and business professionals concerned about the increase in the number of teens venturing out into the back country without any avalanche and mountain safety training.  

Thanks to the generosity of the many donors that have supported the effort, the society provided free Canadian Avalanche Association approved Avalanche Skills Training courses to 30 Nelson and area youth between the ages of 13-18 this past ski season.  

Whitewater has also provided five, one-day Avalanche Awareness Courses for approximately 75 youth aimed to raise awareness and prepare these youth for the AST 1 courses.

If you would like to know more about this program for youth, or would like to find out how you can help, check out http://www.skiwhitewater.com/beyond_the_boundaries.php.

Registration is on a first come, first served basis.