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SAM Magazine--Boulder, Colo., Oct. 27, 2004--Areas have been opening at a record clip across the West as a series of storms and favorable snowmaking weather have cloaked the mountains in the white stuff.

Loveland, Colo., was first, on Oct. 15. Loveland had a solid manmade base, plus nearly four feet of natural snow over the previous month. Arapahoe Basin, Colo., followed on Oct 22, with a combination of manmade and natural snow--about two and a half feet of natural. It was A-Basin's earliest opening ever.

California has been whacked by a series of storms (with more on the way). Bolstered by nearly five feet of natural snow, Mammoth opened Oct. 21 with top-to-bottom skiing and riding; it was the area's earliest opening in 10 years. Boreal, Calif., also opened Oct. 21, with three feet of new snow.

And that was just the beginning. Kirkwood received more than three feet of snow and opened Oct 24, the earliest ever, and will remain open Fridays through Sundays till Nov. 20. Squaw Valley, which has received up to six feet of snow, plans to open Oct. 30 with six lifts running. Sugar Bowl, Calif., will open Oct. 29, and Mountain High in SoCal plans to open either Oct. 28 or 29, conditions permitting (either would be the earliest ever). Others planning to open either Oct. 29 or 30 include Sierra-at-Tahoe and Tahoe Donner. Sierra has three feet at the base, and six at the summit, and will have top to bottom skiing from four lifts.

Upcoming openings are not limited to California, though. Wolf Creek, Colo., and Brighton, Ut., both expect to open the slopes Oct. 29. Utah areas, in fact, have received up to three feet of snow, almost as much as areas in California. And we should note that Timberline, Ore., has been operating weekends since late September.

The earliest area to open in Canada is scheduled to be Lake Louise, on Nov. 6.