Early storms leave Powderhorn in shape to open early

Gordie Steidel, a maintenance supervisor with Powderhorn Mountain Resort, clears the sun deck at the resort after heavy snow in the area. Powderhorn will open Saturday with good early season snow.



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Gordie Steidel, a maintenance supervisor with Powderhorn Mountain Resort, clears the sun deck at the resort after heavy snow in the area. Powderhorn will open Saturday with good early season snow.

Looking toward Rifle from the Grand Hogback north of Silt, the sun sets over low-lying clouds filling the Colorado River Valley Friday, as the Roan Plateau looms above them.



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Looking toward Rifle from the Grand Hogback north of Silt, the sun sets over low-lying clouds filling the Colorado River Valley Friday, as the Roan Plateau looms above them.

Get those skis and boards waxed, the season is about to start.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort is making plans to open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, five days ahead of schedule thanks to the best early season snowfall in years, General Manager Sam Williams said.

“Mother Nature has blessed us with great early season conditions and cold temperatures,” Williams said.

News of the opening was first announced on the resort’s Facebook page on Monday, and news quickly spread via Twitter and other social media.

Persistent cold has allowed the resort to manufacture base conditions, but early precipitation is what will make the early opening possible, he said.

More than 30 inches awaits skiers at the top of Grand Mesa, where wintertime is definitely underway, Williams said, adding that the base area could use more to be fully ready.

Help from Old Man Winter may arrive soon to take care of that.

“We got word from the National Weather Service that we’re probably going to receive another at least 12 inches of snow this week, which will give us the base we need to open,” he said.

That extra snow will allow the resort to open many of its runs earlier than usual, Williams said.

Meanwhile, a few attractions new this year also could help draw crowds on the first weekend of the season.

Those not quite ready to strap on their own skis yet can try out the new, high performance Rossignols just purchased for the resort’s rental fleet, Williams said. 

Meanwhile, those accustomed to trudging back to the lodge for lunch from the No. 2 lift can choose instead to enjoy the newly opened West End Grill, a dining spot where burgers and beer can be savored while skiers warm themselves next to the new fire pit, he said.

Opening day skiers might run into Williams sipping on one of two new signature beers from Paonia’s Revolution Brewing Company — West End Wheat or Powderhorn Pale Ale — while washing down a Bear Claw burger, the resort’s one-third pound beef sandwich topped with pulled pork.

Early season deals on ski school passes and season lift tickets have been extended until Dec. 10, a departure from past years when the deals ended in November, Williams said.

“It’s been a fairly easy transition,” said Williams, who was promoted to general manager earlier this year. “I’m extremely excited to be in this position. I’ve only been working at Powderhorn, this will be my third season, but I’ve been skiing here for 30-plus years.”

“We’re starting off with some of the best early season conditions that we’ve had in years,” he added. “There’s definitely more snow on the hill than we’ve had in the past two years.”

Across the state, several other resorts have already started their seasons, some just this week, including Telluride, Crested Butte, Purgatory, Steamboat and Aspen/Snowmass, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs is scheduled to open this weekend.



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