Stash of ski areas opening this week

Enough snow has fallen or been made in recent weeks that several more ski areas are opening their slopes in time to greet Thanksgiving skiers and boarders.

Beaver Creek, Crested Butte and Monarch open today, followed by Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Steamboat and Telluride on Thursday. Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort will open for the weekend on Friday.

Those resorts join the handful of resorts already open, including A-Basin, Copper Mountain, Loveland, Eldora, Winter Park and Wolf Creek.

While natural snowfall remains a bit slim across the state — Wolf Creek is reporting the most with 32 inches — cold temperatures have given resorts the ability to make snow.

“Our snowmaking and mountain operations crews have been taking advantage of the cold temperatures and natural snow to produce a good man-made surface for our guests during the Thanksgiving holiday,” said John Garnsey, chief operating officer for Beaver Creek.

Telluride is reporting a 22-inch base with 3.5 inches of new snow in the last 48 hours.

“Last week we got more than 30 inches of snow, so we’re in better shape this year than we were at the same time last year,” Telluride Chief Executive Officer Dave Riley said.

Several innovations will greet skiers this year at Telluride, including outdoors heaters on the deck of the Hop Garden, a restaurant/bar in the Mountain Village that promises to become the center of Telluride’s apres-ski activities.

The resort also plans to expand access to the chutes at Gold Hill, including a 30-foot bridge and 100-foot stairway leading to Chute 9, which in turn opens the deep powder basin beneath Palmyra Peak.

Steamboat opens with $20 lift tickets with proceeds going to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club scholarship fund.

“With nearly a foot of snow in the past three days, mountain crews have done a tremendous job taking advantage of the current weather pattern and will provide the best experience, good vertical and most terrain possible for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend,” said Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations for Steamboat. “We’ve already received nearly 41 inches of snow since Oct. 1st and could be on track for a third consecutive 400-inch season.”

Crested Butte does not report snow amounts until the resort opens.

The importance of getting open for the busy Thanksgiving weekend is reflected in the decision by Purgatory to open Friday and close Monday.

According to Mike McCormack, senior vice president of mountain operations at Purgatory, that resort will close its lifts on Monday, giving snowmaking crews time to improve the skiing conditions by the time the mountain reopens for the season on Dec. 4.

Powderhorn Resort still officially is pointing at a Dec. 17 opening, but that might move up depending on weather and snow conditions, Powderhorn spokeswoman Sarah Allen said.

“We’re making quite a bit of snow right now, and we’re actually ahead of schedule in that way,” Allen said Tuesday. “We’re still shooting for the 17th, but if we can, we’ll go early, on the 10th.”

That decision won’t be made until shortly before that date.

“It’s going to depend on the temperatures and whether a storm comes through, but we’re trying to get as close as possible” to opening, Allen said.

The next storm with a chance of snow is forecast for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.


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