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Tuesday November 15, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

More fired up their lifts this weekend following the recent heavy snow. And there's better news to report from North America. Check out the latest... UPDATED

It's another weekend of resort openings in the Alps they include Val Thorens, Cortina and others.

Zermatt in Switzerland has been open for a while and we have just had a condition update from the resort on Sunday morning.

"Up on the glacier today in Zermatt  the high winds that kept the resort closed yesterday have calmed a bit and the Klein Matterhorn area is open, with some high winds at the top and slightly overcast conditions," said PlanetSKI reader, Rob Stewart.

"The runs are in good condition and I'm off piste on the glacier with a guide and it is wind blown powder, pretty compacted but skiable and fun. The sun is started to break through now."

"It's busy with groups, clubs and there's ski instructor training courses starting tomorrow so plenty of BASI members on the mountain today," added Rob.

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland















Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland
















Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland
















Rob runs the snowsports marketing and PR company, Ski Press.

He is attending an ISTA Discovery course (International Snow Training Academy), a new organisation set up by Swiss freeride skier Dominic Perret - the idea of the course is to promote off-piste safety to skiers looking to venture away from the marked runs for the first time.

Here on PlanetSKI we have more on resorts open in Europe later in this article but first we turn our attention to North America where things are beginning to look better.

Canada has fared better than the USA and on Friday Lake Louise near Banff began its season.

However there's not enough snow, particularly lower down, for the first Men's Downhill race of the season to take place this weekend. 

It was cancelled as we reported in this story on PlanetSKI.

First queueFirst queue















First Tracks photo c/o Chris MoselyFirst Tracks photo c/o Chris Mosely















The other main resort near Banff, Sunshine Village, has been open a while.

And on Friday it opened its signature run: Delirium Dive. 

This is one of its earliest openings in recent years.

Last winter it didn't even open until the second half of the season.

It followed further fresh snow and cold temperatures.

The run is a steep off piste run - perhaps one of the steepest in North America.

Open for businessOpen for business




















Last minute preparationsLast minute preparations
















PlanetSKI's reporter in the resort, Alex Cove, was one of the lucky ones who dropped in as the gate opened.

Alex Cove, Delirium DiveAlex Cove, Delirium Dive
















"It's finally got cold here and the snow is good. The only drop in open on The Dive was the main one where you have to walk down the stairs. Once down there was 15cm of untracked and fresh snow," said Alex.

"There ware a few rocks hiding under the snow but then to be making pow tracks in the Dive at this time of year is something special," he added.

There was also some good fresh snow lower down in the trees in the ski out at the bottom.

Sunshine Village, CanadaSunshine Village, Canada
















In the USA Keystone opened on Friday and Breckenridge opens on Saturday, but generally conditions are very poor in the USA as we have reported here.

Meanwhile back in the Alps it is an altogether different story - see here for our weekly snow report from last Thursday that contains all the details.

This weekend a number of resorts in the Alps open and we will be updating this article through the weekend.

They include Val Thorens in Les3Vallees.

It's the start of its long season.

Welcome to winterWelcome to winter















Val Thorens is planning to open 70% of its slopes ahead of the official opening next weekend on 26th November.  

The piste bashers have been out preparing the slopes.

Preparing the pistes in Val ThorensPreparing the pistes in Val Thorens
















And one of our regular readers, Francesca Pangli from Powder N Shine, was on one of the first lifts this morning.

Francesca and friendsFrancesca and friends
















A team from PlanetSKI will be in the resort for its official opening next weekend so do check back for our reports direct from the slopes.

And Gstaad in Switzerland opens too.

Gstaad, SwitzerlandGstaad, Switzerland





















The latest resort to open in the week was Obergurgl in the Tirol in Austria.

Thursday saw its lifts start rolling for the season of 2016/17.

And this is what it looked like:

Obergurgl, AustriaObergurgl, Austria
















Obergurgl, AustriaObergurgl, Austria
















On Wednesday La Clusaz in France  announced that it is opening early.

"Lake Annecy Ski Resorts are opening La Balme sector above La Clusaz this weekend 19 & 20 November- whoop!" said Vanessa Fisher who handles the PR for the resort in the UK.

4 lifts will be open from 9am to 4pm - Télécabine de Balme, Télésiège du Col de Balme, Télésiège de Bergerie and Téléski de Torchère.

And here's what it looks like from the resort's web cameras:

Snowpark La Clusaz 16/11/16Snowpark La Clusaz 16/11/16













Teleski Jument 2000, La CrusazTeleski Jument 2000, La Crusaz - 16th Nov













Panoramic shot - 16th November 2016Panoramic shot of Massif de Baume, 16th November 2016







Cortina, Zell am See and Argentière are opening this weekend.

"We have just had confirmation that the Grands Montets will open partially (Bochard, Marmottons...) this coming weekend," said Claire Burnet from the Chamonix tourist office to us on Tuesday, ahead of the official announcement.

There has been 1m of snow in the valley and 1.50m at the Grands Montets.

A lift ticket will cost €28.

This is what it looked like in the Chamonix Valley this week at 1,300m.

Chamonix Valley, FranceChamonix Valley, France
















Chamonix Valley, FranceChamonix Valley, France




















"Thanks to an abundance of snow at altitude and efficient snow-making on lower slopes the Faloria cable car and Vitelli chairlift will open up the Tondi piste and access to Rifugio Faloria," said a statement from Cortina in Italy.

Following the recent snowfall in the Bernese Oberland, the Jungfrau Ski Region also opens this weekend, Saturday 19th November.

The Grindelwald-Wengen area will now be open for weekends throughout November and December until officially opening on Saturday 17th December.

More resorts including Verbier and Alpe d'Huez opened last weekend - see here for our reports from across the weekend.

The season will officially start on December 17th in the Portes du Soleil but ​​Champéry, Les Crosets and Morgins are opening some slopes this Saturday.

Here is what it is like at resort level in the Portes du Soleil as the snow fell.

Winter arrivesWinter arrives













So, which resorts have opened already or are about to?

We are updating this as the resorts make their announcements and do check with the resorts as things may change.

So far this is what we know about resorts that have already opened some slopes or will do so for this weekend.

Remember that some, like Courchevel, have opened and then closed ahead of their official opening dates so do check if you are planning a visit.

We can't remember so many resort in the Alps that have been open this early in the ski season. :-)


Pitztal, Stubai, Kaprun, Hintertux, Kaunertal, Dachstein, Soelden, Molltal, Zell am See, Kirchberg, Obergurgl, Kitzbuehel and Schladming.


Tignes, Alpe d'Huez, Val Thorens, Argentière, La Clusaz and Courchevel.


Cervinia, Val Senales and Solda.


Verbier, Engelberg, Glacier 3000, Crans-Montana, Zermatt, Lenk, Arosa, Laax, Saas-Fee, Grindelwald-Wengen, Champéry, Les Crosets and Morgins.

Elsewhere in Europe resorts are open in Norway (Hemsedal, Trysil and Geilo), Finland (Levi & Ruka) and Sweden (Are).

Here's what it looks like in Beitostolen in Norway:

Beitostolen, NorwayBeitostolen, Norway















Beitostolen, NorwayBeitostolen, Norway















Bietostolen, NorwayBeitostolen, Norway















Sunshine Village near Banff in Alberta is open - we reported on its opening at the beginning of November ahead of schedule.

And this is what it currently looks like after another storm blew in on Tuesday/Wednesday.

Sunshine Village, BanffSunshine Village, Banff




















Sunshine Village, BanffSunshine Village, Banff
















Sunshine Village, BanffSunshine Village, Banff















The nearby resort of Lake Louise opens this weekend as we reported earlier in this article.

Lake Louise, Photo c/o Chris MoseleyLake Louise, Photo c/o Chris Moseley















Whistler has announced that it is opening on November 23rd.

The snow's been slower to arrive in the US.

Many resorts have had to delay their opening dates as we reported in our earlier article.

However Vail Resorts has just announced the proposed opening dates for some of its resorts as the temperature drops and light snow falls.

Keystone on Friday, Nov. 18 and Breckenridge on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Beaver Creek is scheduled to open on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Vail Mountain is scheduled to open on Friday, Nov. 25 and Park City is scheduled to open on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Here's other information we have from the USA:


Mammoth Mountain opened 10th November.

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in North Lake Tahoe plans to open on 23rd November, or earlier if conditions allow.

Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Mountain Resort and Northstar - 23rd November


Arapahoe Basin and Loveland have some runs open.

Copper Mountain opens on 18th November.

Aspen and Snowmass are planning to open on Thanksgiving Day, 24th November


Snowbird hopes to announce at the weekend when it will be able to open. 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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