Early snow kick-starts area ski season

Area ski resorts are thanking Mother Nature for wintry weather sweeping the upper east coast just in time for Thanksgiving.

Although holiday travelers may encounter some snowy setbacks through Thursday, Holiday Valley and Peek’n Peak ski resorts are embracing the snowfall. Both are scheduled to open Friday.

“The last time we opened the day after Thanksgiving was in 2005,” said David Trathen, executive director of finance at Holiday Valley. “Right now, I think we’ll have 20 slopes at least, and probably a couple more.”

The snow base depth at Holiday Valley is currently 10-25 inches, increasing daily. Though more snow is expected through Friday, the resort is still utilizing its automated snowmaking system, which is controlled via computer and adjusts to temperature and humidity.

“We rely on man-made snow,” Trathen said. “With the automation, we can turn it on quickly and make snow in short windows.”

Trathen said five of the resort’s 13 ski lifts will be operating Friday. Holiday Valley opens from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Lift tickets throughout the weekend will be $53 for skiers and snowboarders ages 12 and up, $42 for juniors ages 7-11, and free up to age 6. A four-hour ticket is also available on Saturday.

Ski and snowboard lessons begin daily starting Friday, while night lessons will be available starting Monday.

Opening day is also the beginning of the “Two Ski Free” promotion at the Inn at Holiday Valley, where each night booked includes two lift tickets. This special runs through Dec. 24.

The Holiday Valley Lodge will be open and houses the equipment rental shop, the Mountainside Grille, Ullr Bar and McCarty Cafe. All three were included in the resort lodge’s complete renovation last year.

Peek’n Peak opens Friday at 9:30 a.m.

“This is the earliest we’ve opened in six years, and an entire month earlier than last year,” said Tiffany Cook, the resort’s marketing manager.

Cook said the resort has been making snow since Saturday and plans to open with three lifts, between seven and 11 trails, plus the resort’s terrain park.

Lift tickets will be discounted on opening day and cost $35 for an all-day adult pass (ages 12 and up), and $24 for ages 6-11. Lift tickets for those ages 6 and under are free.