Ski resorts open early due to snowpack

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Utah skiers are enjoying an early season due to the best snowpack in the last 18 years. According to a Ski Utah publication, the last time Utah saw this much snow at the start of a season was in 2004. (Image made by Aubree B Jennings via Canva)

Ski resorts are moving up their opening dates due to the best snowpack Utah has received in 18 years.

According to a Ski Utah publication, the last time Utah saw this much snow at the start of a season was in 2004.

The snowpack is currently 247% of the average snow at this time of year and at the same levels as it was on Dec. 17 of last year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Services in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Snowbird is set to open two weeks early on Nov. 18 with several other resorts to follow suit. Alta will also open Nov. 18 and Brian Head, Brighton and Solitude have already started their season. Sundance, however, is still set to open on Dec. 9.

Sundance’s Marketing Manager Alysha Jeppson spoke on the decision and said, “We are fortunate to have had great temperatures to be making snow around the clock and are evaluating conditions daily. We plan to open as soon as conditions safely allow.”

This graph represents the snow water equivalent in Utah over the past few decades. The black line is this year’s data and the orange line is last year’s data. The max is represented in purple, the November max being taken in part from 2004. (Natural Resource Conservation Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Ski Utah representative Alison Palmintere referenced the snow and cold weather saying that “it’s allowed several resorts to push up their opening days to welcome skiers and snowboarders back to their favorite activities.”

BYU freshman Drew Zarbock is looking forward to Snowbird’s opening due to its more challenging terrain and a childhood connection to skiing there every Saturday growing up.

“The terrain is better at Snowbird so that’s typically where I go,” he said. 

Local skiers have responded to this impressive snowpack with enthusiasm for the upcoming season.

Andy Gosch, a BYU Junior studying Genetics and Genomics and an employee for Board of Provo said that the snowpack will allow him to ski side country and backcountry more safely. 

“Last year the snowpack was really bad and there was a lot of avalanche danger throughout the year because of that bad snowpack in the beginning,” Gosch said. “Now we have a pretty solid snowpack and it seems really stable from what I’ve seen. It should be a lot more fun.”

BYU student Tucker Lawrence has already noticed the differences this year and attributes this to the good base the recent snow has provided.

“I think already having a base gives them the confidence to open things faster,” Lawrence said.

Tucker Lawrence skis at Solitude on Nov. 17, 2022. Lawrence, a New York native, said Utah’s snow is more reliable and softer than it is on the East Coast. (Courtesy of Tucker Lawrence)

Lawrence, a New York native, said Utah’s snow is more reliable and softer than it is on the East Coast. He is planning on skiing at Brighton, Solitude and Snowbird this season.

“I’m sure they’ll have the whole mountain open definitely before Christmas time, maybe even before Thanksgiving, so that’s really exciting and pretty unheard of,” Lawrence said of Solitude.

More information about ski resort conditions can be found on Ski Utah’s website.

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