Mount Snow among ski areas set to open this week

DOVER, Vt. (WCAX) Tuesday's November storm provided an early boost to ski areas in our region, including Mount Snow, which is among the resorts opening this week.

Riding the high-speed six-person chair to the summit, snowmaking guns are firing nonstop, getting ready for opening day. The wind is also whipping. Thankfully, there's a bubble to shield riders from the elements.

At the top, it almost feels like a frozen tundra. But near by, there's a sign of life, a cat is hard at work prepping the piles of man-made snow.

"We've got a long time team here, so everybody's done this before and we are getting really good at it," said Mount Snow's Jamie Storrs.

But this year is unlike the others. Vail Resorts recently closed on a deal to purchase the resort, adding to its growing list of resorts on the East Coast.

Mary Ellen Kimball is from Connecticut and owns a second home nearby. She has been skiing at Mount Snow since the late 1970's. "We've always had the Epic Pass and we've always had the Peak Pass, so now we just buy one pass and ski all those different areas, she said.

"It's more options, you know, it's what people want now," said Chris Helmstetter, who owns the Inn at Mount Snow. The winter ski season accounts for about 2/3 of his annual revenues.

Vail's Epic Pass now includes 13 mountains in the east. "It's the same people we have always gotten, but now they will get the pass with the attachment and say, 'OK, let's go spend at Okemo,'" Helmstetter said.

"A lot of the people in the New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts areas already had the Epic Pass and so they would use that for their one trip out west and then maybe go for a trip up to Stowe, but now having mountains like Mount Snow, Having Hunter so close to New York, they've got some great day trip options," Storrs said.

As we seek the shelter of the lift on the way back down the empty mountain, you can almost picture the turns being made in less than 24-hours time.

"And the skiing is good. It's tough but it is good. It makes you a good skier," Kimball said.

The lifts open at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to take skiers and riders to the top. But if you want to be first in line, you had better get here early.

OTHER SKI AREAS OPEN IN THE COMING DAYS

Two cross-country resorts are set to kick off their season Wednesday -- Catamount Outdoor Center in Williston and the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. Craftsbury opens Friday.

This weekend, Titus in Malone, New York and Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire, will welcome skiers and riders to the slopes.

Killington is already open -- their season started on November 4th.