Snowmaking is in full effect at Blue Mountain Ski Area just days before the top-flight resort kicks off another winter season.

The ski area began to make snow on Friday, and hopes to open by Dec. 10, if not sooner, according to Heidi Lutz, marketing director.

"It is all weather dependent," Lutz said. "However, we are working around the clock to be open as soon as possible."

As the snow starts to fly, Lutz said the large renovation to the Summit Courtyard should soon be wrapped up as well.

"Although the Summit Courtyard has undergone a huge renovation, we have been working on projects all spring, summer, and fall to improve the guest experience here," she said.

New this season is Pioneer Pass, an additional learning trail, that will be utilized by the ski area's Learning Center, Lutz said. The trail is an additional learning tool that will help children ages-12-and-under learn skills and gain confidence, she said.

Improved snowmaking is also expected, Lutz said. Once again, Blue Mountain has increased its automated snowmaking system along with adding high efficiency guns, she said.

Blue Mountain has automated two trails, similar to Paradise, with the ability now to lay down tons of snow, faster than ever, and has also added five fan guns, Lutz said.

The ski area has also restructured its Summit ticket office to improve its ticket selling ability, and has added more windows for added speed and convenience. It has also made the line streamlined with one entry point.

In addition, Lutz said the ski area has expanded its Summit rental shop and tuning area to increase traffic flow through the rental shop. With this new area, it will be able to accommodate more guests and keep the lines inside, she said.

The ski area will also sport a new, state-of-the-art Montana Challenge MAX automated ski and snowboard tuning machine, and is the first and currently only shop in the country to operate the Challenge MAX.

Further, Lutz said Blue's Passport is "our guest's ticket to everything at Blue Mountain."

"They can purchase their ticket either online, or at any ticket window and it is reusable," she said. "Once they recharge their passport, they will have the convenience of skipping the ticket windows by going directly to the lift with the Blue's Passport Card."

Lutz said Blue's Passport uses Radio Frequency Identification technology, which uses radio waves to identity objects.

Tied into its passport product, Lutz said this year all ticket scanning will be completed at the lifts.

"Since RFID uses radio waves, it is not dependent on line-of-sight like a bar code reader would be," she said. "Guests can keep their tickets right in the pocket of their outer garments."

Thanks to hands-free access, guests can spend less time in lines and more time enjoying the resort, Lutz said.

Also, Lutz said above the new tuning area is a brand new 46-by-38 deck, which will allow guests to enjoy the outdoors without having to leave the lodge.

"The deck will offer beautiful Vista Views, food, drink, music, additional seating and all the convenience of being in the lodge," she said.

Last but not least, Blue's Learning Center - formerly Ski School - now has a brand new expanded area, Lutz said.

"Our guests will enjoy a larger area to schedule lessons and to have their questions answered," she said.