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  • The Associated Press

    Mike McDonald walks through the freshly fallen snow to get to his job as winter caretaker at the Heidelmann Lodge in Soda Springs on Monday.

  • David B. Parker / Reno Gazette-Journal

    In March 2012, a snowboarder rides a lift at Boreal Mountain Resort. “There’s plenty of snow up here; definitely more than a foot,” spokesman Matt Peterson said Monday. The resort, usually the first to open, hopes for a weekend opening.

Boreal ski resort may be first to open this weekend as snow blankets the Sierra

Published: Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 - 2:50 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 - 8:52 am

Dreaming of a white Halloween, skiers and snowboarders are anxious to hit the slopes. And with snow falling in the Sierra, can the start of the season be far behind?

“There’s plenty of snow up here; definitely more than a foot,” said Matt Peterson, spokesman for Boreal Mountain Resort at Donner Summit. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed we might be open this weekend. It’s all weather dependent, but right now there’s a good chance.”

Boreal officials will make the call on Tuesday or Wednesday whether to open this weekend, Peterson said. (Latest updates available at

“We’re usually first to open and we expect to be again,” he added. “This is definitely snowy.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an additional 3 to 6 inches of snow is possible by Tuesday morning in the Tahoe area and Donner Summit.

No matter how impressive, the season’s first snowfall usually isn’t enough to open most Sierra ski runs. On Monday morning, Boreal had more than 20 snow-making machines, running simultaneously, to help beef up its fresh snow pack. With a base elevation of 7,200 feet, the resort already has a pristine blanket of white.

“It’s obnoxiously beautiful,” Peterson said.

Although it may seem like an early start to winter, this snowfall actually is a little late compared to recent years. Boreal opened Oct. 26 in 2012, the fourth consecutive year the resort hosted an October opening day.

Last year, all the snow seemed to arrive early, noted Sierra watchers.

“(In 2012), we had the most snow before Christmas we ever had,” said Melissa Brouse, spokesperson for Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts. “But then it tapered off in January and February and turned into a more normal year (in terms of total snowfall).”

Forecasters have predicted an “average” winter for Sierra resorts, which is saying a lot. Boreal gets 400 inches in a typical winter; Squaw Valley usually tops 450 inches.

“It’s definitely looking like winter,” Brouse said Monday. “We received a significant amount of snow overnight; 14 inches at Alpine Meadows and 10 inches at Squaw Valley. And it’s definitely gorgeous.”

As this early snow falls, most resorts are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Squaw Valley should open Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving. Alpine Meadows has Dec. 13 as its target date, weather permitting. For updates and details, check out or

“At Squaw Valley, Thanksgiving is what we shoot for every single year,” said Brouse, noting the resort’s restaurant offers a holiday buffet. “It’s really great for families who want a special holiday. Skiing really builds up your appetite.”

For those thinking about purchasing a ski pass, now is a good time. Pre-season discounts are still available, but not much longer. At Boreal, prices go up Friday.

“Everyone should get their skis and equipment out and get ready,” Brouse said. “Winter really will be here before you know it.”

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington

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