Back in the late 80's and early 90's, there used to be quite a competition between Park City, Solitude, and Brighton as to which would open first. I was a volunteer host at both Brighton and Solitude during those years, and it was always so exciting getting everything ready for an early opening.
I remember Solly's owner Gary tried for a few years to be the first resort ever, in the history of Utah skiing, to open by Halloween. But alas, the conditions were never quite right.
He almost made it one year. In October of 1991, we'd had an early snowstorm lay down a bit of a base that stayed for several days as the temps remained quite cold above 8,000 feet. Solitude fired up the portable snowmaking guns on Moonbeam II and the Link.
Everything was progressing nicely--the machine snow was piling up and the temperatures were cooperating. The thought of skiing in October was getting me more excited by the day. I was still fairly new at skiing and there were lots of experiences that I was just realizing I wanted to have. The idea of skiing out of season was just beginning to germinate in me. I was fascinated with the idea of skiing in a month that most people would never think of skiing. Interestingly, at that time I had never heard of alpine touring, hiking for turns, and frankly, I wouldn't have known what a climbing skin was if I had tripped over one. So, to me, the only way one could ski in October would obviously be if the ski resorts opened by then, but that wasn't going to be a problem--skiing in October was about to become a reality.
Here we were, a few days before Halloween, and there was a buzz about the place. Even two sourpuss old geezers, with whom I occasionally had to interact, were more animated than I'd ever seen them when I arrived for our morning briefing the Saturday before the opening. We were right on schedule to have the “first-ever October resort opening” in the storied history of one of the pioneer states of skiing, and it was scheduled for that next Thursday; Halloween Day.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. A high pressure system moved in the day after our meeting and refused to budge. The sun came out strong, temps rose--the base was melting before our eyes. The disappointment was evident throughout the organization. It had been so perfect. There had even been a radio ad teasing about the early opening. Now what?
By Wednesday, opening on Halloween was out of the question. There just wasn't enough coverage to do it. I don't know who came up with the idea, nor do I know who gave the go-ahead, but all day Tuesday through Thursday every available worker, snowcat, and snowmobile, was out on that hill pushing snow into piles which were then spread out onto a trail from the top of Moonbeam II down to the base of parking lot 1. It was evident someone in management was hell-bent on opening something.
Solly didn't open on Halloween day, but they opened the very next morning, November 1st, 1991. I was there. It was, at the time, the very earliest opening of a Utah ski resort, even though we didn't make the October goal.
It was also the earliest skiing I had ever done. On the chairlift, I ate some candy my kids had given me for hauling them around the neighborhood trick-or-treating the previous night. Sweet.
I couldn't have known it then, but it would also be the last October skiing I would ever miss...
P.S. In 1996, Park City became the first Utah resort to open in October. They fired up the "Three Kings" bullwheel on October 26th of that year.