NORTH CREEK - "Fabulous and probably one of our best in years," was how Gore Mountain marketing manager Emily Stanton described this weekend's official opening of the 2008-09 ski season.
This weekend also marks the beginning of Gore Mountain's annual food drive to benefit the North Country Outreach Center. Skiers that bring a food donation to the ticket window are eligible to receive a $10 discount off their lift ticket through Dec. 19.
"We enjoy working with the North Country Outreach Center and the effort generates thousands of pounds of food for their holiday baskets," said Stanton.
Gore staff will make two deliveries to the food pantry and will collect food every day. Over 500 skiers are estimated to have contributed to the food drive on Gore's opening day.
Thanks to cooperative weather conditions, the mountain opened with nearly five miles of trails.
"Although lift service terrain is open for intermediates and experts right now, we have lessons available for all ability levels," Stanton added.
She also noted that snowmakers are hard at work on the lower part of the Sunway Trail, Showcase, and lower Sleigh Ride. Terrain park elements are also open at the mid-mountain saddle.
"There was certainly something for everyone this opening weekend," Stanton said. "All of the mountain's services are fully open."
In response to recent concerns voiced by local pass holders, Stanton took the opportunity to clear the air regarding rumors of a paid parking policy going into effect this year.
"Gore guarantees free parking to all of its guests - and for every day of the upcoming season," she said. "We have expanded our parking lots, we have added more shuttle buses, and we are confident that parking will be a more convenient, safer, and more efficient experience this season."
Gore is exploring the option of providing paid parking spaces in the future but a determination of how many, or when it will occur, has not been made.
With the new parking areas available to skiers this year, Gore officials are confident that more vehicles can safely park off the access road - particularly on the busy holiday weekends.
"We're very excited for this upcoming season," Stanton concluded. "Season pass sales are up and we are unveiling the new Burnt Ridge Quad and six more trails, anticipated to open in late December.
"Given all of Gore Mountain's improvements and people's excitement over the early season snow, and increased season pass sales, we are very confident that we will have an exceptional 2008/09 season."