Tahoe ski resorts project opening dates, amped for El Niño winter | SierraSun.com

Tahoe ski resorts project opening dates, amped for El Niño winter

Many of the Tahoe-Truckee ski resorts offer family passes, including Tahoe Donner Downhill in Truckee.
Courtesy Tahoe Donner |

TRUCKEE, Calif. — You can feel it in the air. No, not the cold, snow-summoning temperatures — not yet.

However, the anticipatory buzz for the 2015-16 Tahoe-Truckee ski season to get under way is as thick as snowfall on powder day.

Sure, it always is this time of year, but it’s clear the collective itch to get on the slopes is especially strong this year. After all, there are two facts that can’t be ignored:

1: In terms of having a strong snow year, the Tahoe-Truckee area has been stuck in an uncharacteristic dry spell. In other words, powder days have been few and far between.

2: “Godzilla” El Niño. Everyone is well tuned to the fact many forecasters are calling for the biggest El Niño event on record.

Translation: There could — keyword, “could” — be powder days for days.

“You don’t want to be overly zealous,” said Ashley Quadros, marketing coordinator at Tahoe Donner, which operates both a downhill and cross-country resort in Truckee. “But yeah, we’re definitely excited. Everyone’s talking about El Niño, and we’re excited to see what that can potentially bring.”

Truth is, El Niño is promoting the ski season better than any area resort could. Just ask Liesl Kenney, public relations manager at Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows.

“I mean, I think the buzz around El Niño has kind of been doing the job for us,” Kenney said. “We are just really excited to have people talking about it and hoping for cold temperatures.”

When those cold temperatures come remains to be seen, though. The upper digits continue to hover around 60 degrees and are predicted to stay there through Halloween — though, with low temps dipping below freezing these days, resort snowmaking operations could begin soon.

But that doesn’t mean the area ski resort personnel have their feet stretched on desks, shaking a snow globe in one hand, lethargically refreshing weather.com with the other.

Quite the opposite.

“If we got the snow tomorrow, we’d try to open tomorrow,” said Dave Amirault, Director of Marketing at Sierra-at-Tahoe. “We’re making sure we’re ready to roll in the winter. It’s all dependent on mother nature, when she delivers the goods.”

Speaking of Halloween, that’s when Boreal Mountain Resort at Donner Summit — which annually attempts to be the first Truckee-Tahoe area resort to open — is projecting its opening date this season.

Check out what all 14 area resorts are projecting below:


Website: rideboreal.com

Opening day: Halloween, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: For ages 13-23, grab Boreal’s new Youth Pass for $199 with zero blackout dates. Sale price runs through Halloween.

Diamond Peak

Website: diamondpeak.com

Opening day: Dec. 10, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: The College Pass gives students ages 13-23 the option of a seven-day pass for $199 and a midweek pass for $159. Discounted rates run through Halloween.

Donner Ski Ranch

Website: donnerskiranch.com

Opening day: To be determined, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: Season passes for adults (ages 18-69) are only $299.


Website: granlikbakken.com

Opening day: Dec. 16, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: Adults can ski a full day for $30 ($16 half day), while children can ski a full day for $20 ($10 half day).


Website: skiheavenly.com

Opening day: Nov. 20

Must-have pass: Tahoe Value Pass — ski or ride seven days a week at Heavenly and six days a week at Kirkwood and Northstar. The adult pass is $469.


Website: skihomewood.com

Opening day: Dec. 12, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: Snag a lift ticket for just $44 per day if purchased online.


Website: kirkwood.com

Opening day: Nov. 21, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: Epic Day Ticket — buy this ticket 72 hours in advance and save up to 25 percent off your next day on the mountain.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

Website: skirose.com

Opening day: Oct. 29, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: My Pass (single mid-week day season pass) is the most value-saving option at $279.


Website: northstarcalifornia.com

Opening day: Nov. 20

Must-have pass: Tahoe Local Pass — valid at Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood all week, every week; $519 for adults, $409 for teens and $249 for children.


Website: sierraattahoe.com

Opening day: To be determined, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: Sierra Resort Value Pass — for $279, get full access Sunday-Friday (excluding blackout dates), along with free skiing and riding on select days at Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows.

Soda Springs

Website: skisodasprings.com

Opening day: To be determined; resort traditionally opens early December

Must-have pass: Unlimited Season Pass — $199 for adults, $149 fo r youth and $99 for chi ldren.

Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows

Website: squawalpine.com

Opening day: Nov. 25 for Squaw; Dec. 11 for Alpine

Must-have pass: Tahoe Super Pass — get the Silver pass for $599 and ski all season at Squaw-Alpine (with just 10 blackout dates), as well as two days apiece at Sierra-at-Tahoe and Sugar Bowl.

Sugar bowl

Website: sugarbowl.com

Opening day: Thanksgiving, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: All Sugar Bowl passes are at a discounted rate through Halloween.

Tahoe Donner

Website: tahoedonner.com

Opening day: Dec. 11, conditions permitting

Must-have pass: Combo Pass — offers the flexibility to cross-country ski, downhill ski, snowshoe or snowboard, starting at $319 for members and $399 for public.

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