HANCOCK -- Jiminy Peak got a jump on the weather Saturday, creating enough snow to have eight hills running on an unseasonably warm November day, resulting in festive season opening on the slopes.
By Sunday, rains had dampened the trails, but that didn't stop some from enjoying time on the slopes anyway.
A six-person chairlift sent scores of skiers and snowboarders up to the 1,130-foot mountain peak at speeds that felt like a plane taking off. At the top, a view of the Taconic Mountains awaited.
Eight-year-old Ava Sheehan was at the bottom of the beginner's ski hill at Jiminy Peak on her first day skiing Saturday and survived with her mother, Kelly, helping the youngster maintain her balance.
"I like it," Ava said.
"I just started getting back into it," Kelly said. Originally a skier, Kelly now snowboards. "It's more of a challenge," she said. "More of a workout."
PHOTO GALLERY | Jiminy Peak opens its slopes this weekend in Hancock
Opening day at Jiminy Peak before Thanksgiving? It may seem early, but CEO Paul Maloney said eight million gallons of water mixed with compressed air was enough to get the job done thanks to icy cold temperatures during the week leading up to opening day.
But by Saturday, the sun was shining and temperatures were in the 50s, and on Sunday, rain diminished a lot of the hard work the mountain's workers had done.
"It's a normal start for us," Maloney said. Last year, the mountain opened on Nov. 10.
Maloney, 66, started as an assistant ski school director at the mountain 40 years ago. It's where he met his future wife, Catherine. She was working with the ski patrol at the time.
"The skiing is beautiful. The temperature is great," Maloney said Saturday.
The operators don't rely on snow from the sky to make the mountain work, Maloney said. "We depend on the man-made snow," he said. "A foot of natural snow compresses to almost nothing after a day. The natural stuff helps."
Despite concerns over global warming, Maloney said the amount of snow hasn't changed much in the past 40 years, by his memory.
Two years ago, warm temperatures stopped the mountain from opening until January. "The skiing wasn't so great," he said. "Everybody suffered."
Three years ago, the snow didn't stop with a number of large storms.
Alex Delano, 17, a senior at Mount Greylock High School and an instructor at Jiminy Peak, was out on the trails Saturday and enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. "It's good to be back out there," she said. "It's like spring skiing in November."
She has been skiing since she was in kindergarten. "It's "one of my favorite things to do. It's nice to get out with friends and get to do stuff instead of sitting inside the house."
Katie Fogel, who works as the assistant director of marketing at Jiminy Peak, started skiing there at age 7 with her father, and particularly likes skiing at night. "I grew up here," she said.
After a day of skiing, Jason Poolpool, 53, of New York City, rested in the sun at a table at the snack area.
"It's too early," he said. "The snow is not ready. The snow is not deep enough and the snow is melting."
Emily Halpin, 17, of Averill Park, was at the hill Saturday with her classmate Erica Burto. "The snow is a little slushy. It's a little sticky," Halpin said.
Travis Cunningham, 19, and his cousins make an annual trip to the mountain from Enfield, Conn. "This is pretty awesome," said the snowboarder. "I didn't even know this would be open today."
He likes snowboarding, he said, because "it's peaceful when you are going down and on the lift when you are going up."
Steve Mydosh, of East Greenbush, brought his 11-year-old daughter Catherine to ski Saturday. "I thought it was really good," Catherine said. "I never got to ski before Thanksgiving."
For now, Jiminy Peak will only be open on the weekends. Check the website jiminypeak.com for more information.
To reach Nathan Mayberg:
or (413) 496-6243