Preview of local ski conditions people can expect over the holidays

“Mother Nature has presented us with a few challenges here in the early season.”

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While not as dire as things were in the fictional ski town of Pine Tree, Vermont, that was featured in the classic movie White Christmas, many of the ski runs on the North Shore mountains and Whistler Blackcomb remain shut because of a lack of snow.

“Mother Nature has presented us with a few challenges here in the early season, but our teams have taken advantage of optimal weather conditions to make snow and expand our terrain offerings, and will continue to do so as conditions permit,” said Dane Gergovich, a spokesman for Whistler Blackcomb.

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“We’re expecting cooler temperatures heading into the holiday weekend, and there’s snow in the forecast starting Christmas Day, which bodes well for our snowmaking and terrain expansion efforts, and fun for guests who are arriving to celebrate the holiday here in Whistler.”

Because the weather is dynamic and can change faster than you can say “Full Double Full Full”, Gergovich encouraged skiers to check the resort’s lift- and terrain-status page, pay attention to its Instagram and Facebook sites, or tune in to Mountain FM for real-time lift, terrain and trail updates.

As of Friday, just 19 of 27 Whistler Blackcomb lifts covering a quarter of the available ski terrain were open (as well as 103 of 276 trails).

Weekend weather forecasts project cooler temperatures with snowfall occurring late Monday afternoon into Tuesday.

While this is encouraging, Gergovich said, it might present challenges to patrol and mountain-ops teams as they open up terrain.

“Especially given the recent milder temperatures and rain we’ve received,” he said. “We ask our guests to please be patient.

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“We encourage incoming guests to plan ahead and know before they go. It is always important to be aware of the terrain available, the forecast and the conditions.”

He also urges visitors to check with Drive B.C. for road conditions and the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s website, “which is a great source of local information.

“Use them and always bear in mind that conditions on-mountain and in-resort can change.”

This season is behind where it was a year ago, when more lifts and more of the mountain were open by Christmas.

“That said, our teams are ready to mobilize and make more snow at a moment’s notice,” Gergovich said.

The southwesterly atmospheric river Whistler is expecting to arrive on Christmas evening will also bring rain and snow to the three North Shore mountains.

Mt. Seymour has no runs open and a base of just 16 centimetres.

“It’s too warm, we’ve lost most of our snow, and we’re just waiting for an improvement in temperature and snowfall,” spokesman Simon Whitehead said. “As soon as we are good to go, we let everyone know.”

Seymour is working on a two-day rolling window, Whitehead said.

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“If we knew there was snow coming, say, tomorrow, we’d be open the day after that. We can turn things around very, very quickly.

“I think some people are concerned that the ski season is bust … but one in eight years we miss Christmas. It’s not unusual. We have a very, very long ski season ahead of us.”

Grouse Mountain did not immediately respond to a request for information, but according to its website it has had 149 centimetres of snow this season, with snow depths of 60 centimetres at the top lift and 50 centimetres at the bottom.

Six of its seven lifts remain closed.

In West Vancouver, Cypress Mountain has a mid-mountain base of 61 centimetres, its website said.

Because of the mild weather, the Lions Express is closed while Easy Rider (beginner terrain only) and Eagle Express (intermediate and expert terrain only) are open for day and night skiing.

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