9,624-foot Sonora Pass in California (first crossed in 1852) opened on Friday, April 18th, 2014 at noon. This pass gives access to incredible ski terrain in the High Sierra Nevada mountains. Parking your car above 9,000-feet lets skiers and riders get on high peaks quick.
This opening was the earliest Sonora Pass has experienced in a decade. Sonora usually opens at some point in May.
9,943-foot Tioga Pass is open to the pass from the East allowing access to all the classic descents off the Dana Plateau.
What caused this early opening? Low snow. Sonora Pass is located in the Central Sierra and this year, the central Sierra Nevada mountains saw around 40% of normal snowfall. Good weather, low snow, and warm temperatures allowed plowing to begin much earlier than normal and allowed plowing to progress much faster than normal.
One of the absolute best times of year to ski in California is the springtime. California has the tallest mountains in the lower 48 and there are some very high mountain passes that allow access fantastic skiing come springtime. The skiing up there isn’t always spring skiing. Large powder storms are known to grace the High Sierra anytime during April, May, June, and July.