White stuff a joy at Powderhorn opening

Hundreds of skiers and snowboarders arrived for Powderhorn’s opening day Saturday, but none were as early as four students from Fruita Monument High School. Casey Mays, Kiani Vogt, Mariah Hartle and Brady King planted themselves at the front of the lift line at 5:40 a.m., well before sunrise and before employees opened the resort.

Hours later, when the first lift started at 9 a.m., cheers went up from a long line of snow seekers waiting to make fresh tracks.

Heavy snow that irritated commuters this week in Grand Junction was a joy for skiers on the mountain who swooshed through up to 3 feet of new snow. Thanks to a storm early last week, the resort opened four days ahead of schedule. An estimated 600 to 700 vehicles were in the resort’s parking lots by 9:30 a.m.

A healthy opening day at the mountain can be a boon for the resort as skiers and snowboarders go back to their homes in the valley and rave to friends and family about conditions, Powderhorn spokeswoman Sarah Allen said.

“This is a good start for us,” Allen said about the throngs of early morning skiers. “A strong start helps us kick off the season.”

As ski seasons go, most skiers remember last year’s paltry early season snow conditions but are hoping for heavy snowfall similar to 2007. That was the wish, at least, for 38-year-old Denny Warren. The Grand Junction man was drinking beer at 10 a.m., waiting on the resort deck for friends to get their gear on to start a day of snowboarding.

“This is not bad for opening day,” he said of the snow conditions. “Terrain parks, big air and powder days, this is what we live for.”

The resort had 80 percent of its runs open Saturday, but more should open soon as more snow falls, Allen said. Snow began falling on the mountain Saturday afternoon, and the weather forecast called for an 80 percent chance of snow today and a 70 percent chance Monday.


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