The immense snowfall that hit the region in late November allowed Castle Mountain to open earlier than ever before in its modern history.
On Nov. 22, a sneak-peek weekend was announced where the Huckleberry Chair, the Green Chair and the Buckaroo Carpet lifts were opened to the public, with the official opening of the season taking place Dec. 2.
By the time Castle Mountain began regular operations, it had already seen a total of 200 centimetres of snow.
While the Westcastle Valley location is well known for having the highest accumulative annual snowfall in Alberta, the initial snowfall proved exceptional even by the resort’s standards.
“It’s been a great start to the season. The snow has been really fantastic,” says Cole Fawcett, sales and marketing manager at Castle Mountain Resort.
“Since 2019, we’ve extended our season by two full weeks and it has had a positive impact on our ability to host people and bring a few more people out.”
When Dec. 18 rolled around, the resort’s 19th operating day, the mountain had seen 300 centimetres of snow, roughly a third of its average annual snowfall, only 15 per cent of the way through the season.
However, snowfall has slowed drastically since hitting the 300-centimetre mark. The mountain has seen only another 79 centimetres of total snowfall and just six in the seven days prior to Monday.
Despite low snow accumulation in recent weeks, the resort is still working with a snow base of 128 centimetres and staff remain optimistic about the season continuing to be a great one.
“We’ve hit a bit of a dry spell, which is kind of sad, but the alpine is still skiing really nice,” says Kevin Aftanas, marketing co-ordinator at the resort.
“The area is obviously fairly windy, and when there’s wind overnight, even if we haven’t seen much snow in a couple of days, it moves the snow around so it skis like new.”
Five of the six lifts are operational during the week, with the T-Rex lift open only on weekends.
Additionally, 89 of 95 downhill ski trails are currently open for public use.
While the resort has snowmaking equipment should the dry spell continue to persist, the hope now is that snow will fall at a greater, more consistent pace moving forward.
“If we could get 50 to 70 centimetres every week, kind of just in dribs and drabs, it keeps things fresh, keeps us skiing and riding really good, and it allows us to kind of keep up with things without breaking our backs doing it,” says Cole.
Base-area chairlift operations run every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until April 9, barring any changes.