HANCOCK -- Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort will kick off the local ski season this holiday weekend -- a month earlier than last year -- with help from Mother Nature.
While Wednesday's nor'easter barely dusted Jiminy Peak with snow, the ski resort's snow guns have been blanketing the mountain with the man-made white stuff this week, thanks to below freezing nighttime temperatures, according to resort officials.
"We have a lot of snow, especially at the top where it looks like a winter wonderland," said Betsy Strickler, Jiminy's director of sales and marketing.
Strickler said she expects six to eight trails will be open and that both chair lifts will be running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Monday, the legal holiday for Veterans Day, which falls on Sunday. Jiminy officials hope to capitalize on some people having the day off since government offices, schools and a few businesses are closed.
The ski resort is also using the three-day stretch to raise money for the Berkshire County Chapter of the American Red Cross. Strickler said 25 percent of ski proceeds, such as lift tickets and rentals, will be donated to the Red Cross' disaster relief fund.
After a mild, virtually snowless 2011-12 ski season, Strickler is thrilled to get a good jump on this winter's skiing.
"We're a month earlier than last year, so we're viewing this as bonus time," she said.
Strickler noted that Jiminy will be closed mid-week and will re-open the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18 -- weather permitting -- before planning to open daily for the season on Thanskgiving weekend.
The Berkshires' four other ski resorts haven't announced when they expect to open for the season.