BIG BEAR LAKE - The two ski resorts here opened Monday with more than 18 inches of snow.

The Veterans Day start of the season is considered an early opening, said Dan McKernan, director of marketing and public relations for the Big Bear Lake Resort Association.

Many skiers with Monday off were taking advantage of the early start at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski areas, McKernan said, in a telephone interview.

A combination of very cool nights, natural snow and man-made snow came together to jumpstart the season ahead of the traditional opening which has been the day before Thanksgiving, McKernan said.

"It's always great to start the season a week or so before Thanksgiving. This could be a sign that we are in for a great El Nino winter season with lots of snow," said Rebecca Hrabia, Big Bear Lake Resort Association director of operations.

On Monday, chair 1 opened at Snow Summit with access to Miracle Mile from top to bottom, ideal for intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. Also, chair 8 opened for access to the Bear Bottom beginner area, McKernan said.

At Bear Mountain, chair 1 opened with access to Expressway, The Gulch and Lower Run. For beginners, chair 7 opened with access to Inspiration Run, he said.

Separately, the Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain in Big Bear Lake and Big Bear Snow Play, both areas for tubing, opened Monday as well, McKernan said.

For more information, go to www.bigbear.com.

Mountain High in Wrightwood opened on Sunday and Snow Valley in Running Springs plans to open Nov. 21, officials said.

jim.steinberg@inlandnewspapers.com

909-386-3855