Opening day: Massive storm gets chairs spinning at local resorts


New snow at Palisades Tahoe after a historic October storm. Three and a half feet of snow fell in the upper elevations.
Submitted by Kate Abraham
New snow at Palisades Tahoe after a historic October Winter Storm.
Submitted by Kate Abraham
For the third time in 72 years of operation, Palisades Tahoe will open in October.
Submitted by Kate Abraham

For the third time in 72 years of operation, Palisades Tahoe will open in October.

Following this week’s early season storm, which dropped three and a half feet of snow at upper elevations, the resort announced it will begin spinning lifts today, marking the first October opening with comparable terrain since 2004.

Guests will be able to ski the upper mountain, with plans to open the Funitel, Gold Coast Express, Shirley Lake Express, Big Blue, the Aerial Tram, Mountain Meadow, and Bailey’s Beach. Grooming will be limited, and more lifts may be added to the schedule as operations teams continue to assess the mountain. Palisades Tahoe will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Sundays, until daily operations begin Nov. 24.

At this time, masks are required indoors for unvaccinated guests only. Masks are not required outdoors or in the Funitel or Tram.


Boreal Mountain California will begin spinning lifts today as well, marking its earliest opening in more than a decade.

The resort is opening three weeks ahead of schedule after receiving more than 3 feet of snow from this week’s storm. Boreal plans on beginning operations at 10 a.m., and will have Castle Peak and Accelerator spinning. Guests are required to purchase passes before they arrive. Masks must also be worn indoors at all times.

Sister resort Soda Springs typically opens in late November, but has yet to announce plans for the start of the 2021-22 ski season.


Northstar California Resort has not moved up its opening day following this week’s storm, and is still targeting Nov. 19 for its opening day.

The resort will debut a new high-speed, six-person chair this year, replacing the existing mid-mountain, four-person chair and increasing uphill capacity by 50%, according to the resort.

Northstar will also have a number of COVID-19 measures, including requiring face coverings indoors, and will require guests age 12 and older to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to dine at the resort’s indoor restaurants. All transactions will also be cashless. Additionally, employees will be required to have COVID-19 vaccinations. There will not be a reservation system as was the case last year in order to get on the mountain. Lifts and gondolas will also be loaded at normal capacity.


For nearly a half century Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort has provided a family-friendly experience, dubbing itself as “the best place to begin,” with instruction for youngsters as young as 3 years old.

Tahoe Donner said it received 2 feet of “wet and heavy Sierra cement” from the storm and continues to target Dec. 10 for its opening date.

Tahoe Donner purchased a new PistenBully snowcat to groom the mountain. The resort also added to its transportation fleet with a new fuel-efficient shuttle bus.

The resort said it will update its COVID-19 protocols based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the California Department of Public Health, and Nevada County Public Health Department.

The Tahoe Donner Cross-Country center has installed its first snowmaking system, ensuring a high quality, early season snow surface for the center’s learning area and on a three-kilometer loop.

The cross-country center will begin operations Nov. 26.


Sugar Bowl Resort was hit with a reported 3 feet of snow this week, and is eyeing Nov. 26 to begin operations for its 83rd winter season.

Sugar Bowl said it will encourage guests to wear masks indoors, and will require all of its employees to be fully vaccinated.

Additionally, the resort said it’s experiencing a staff shortage, which includes employing 500 seasonal members.

“If we are short staff, our ancillary services will be affected first,” said officials in a news release. “For example, during midweek periods when visitation is typically low, we might consolidate our base-area service offerings to the Judah portal. We are not going to know the results of our hiring initiatives for a few weeks, so it’s still too soon to make any final decisions about which facilities and services might be impacted and when.”

The resort will host a virtual hiring event at 1 to 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 4. Registration is at

While Donner Ski Ranch has yet to announce an opening date for the 2021-22 season, the resort publicized an increase in season pass prices after Sunday. Adult passes are currently $399. For more information, visit


On Tahoe’s West Shore, Homewood Mountain Resort reported 3 feet of snow at its summit and has scheduled Dec. 10 for an opening date.

The resort also announced its Halloween activities have been impacted by the storm, which caused the cancellation of kids’ games and live music. The Scenic and Haunted Chairlifts also won’t be spinning. The haunted house will be open throughout the weekend.

Above Incline Village, Diamond Peak is projected to begin operations in early December. The resort said it received between 24 and 30 inches of snow from this week’s storm.

Diamond Peak will also host a job fair on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Mt. Rose — Ski Tahoe received up to 42 inches of snow from the recent storm, and is aiming for an early November opening.

In South Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Mountain said it received more than 2 feet of snow, and is aiming for Nov. 19 to begin spinning lifts. Like its fellow Vail operated resort, Northstar, Heavenly employees will have to be vaccinated to work at the resort. The area’s other Vail operated resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, is planning on opening Dec. 3.

Sierra-at-Tahoe suffered damage to trees and chairlifts from the fire. Officials also announced that the trails and areas accessed by West Bowl Express will be inaccessible this season. Additional areas such as Jack’s and Avalanche Bowl will also likely be closed for the season. An opening date has yet to be announced.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at

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