First To Open? Wolf Creek In An Upset
The race to be the first to drop the ropes on the 2021-22 season has a new winner this season, as the "friendly" cloak-and-dagger competition reached new heights.
All eyes were on Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, and Keystone to open first this season -- until Wolf Creek jumped in and disrupted the traditional race to be the first to open among U.S. ski and snowboard resorts.
Wolf Creek plans to open Saturday, Oct. 16, its earliest opening date in recent history. It will close back down, and then be open on weekends-only until conditions warrant a full-on season.
Then, without any warning, Arapahoe Basin pushed up its first day to the next day, Sunday, Oct. 17 -- thus claiming the consolation prize of first in Summit County. The mountain will be open seven days a week if conditions allow.
Why? Because a sudden October storm swirled into the Rockies mid-week, with the snow falling all across Colorado but dumping the most on the San Juan Mountains. Wolf Creek received 14 inches on top of several weeks of snowmaking -- enough to open several runs off the Treasure Stoke chair and beginner terrain on Nova Chair on the lower portion of the mountain.
A-Basin's Alan Henceroth reported that their slopes got a solid foot from the storm. Combined with snowmaking that began Oct. 9, the Summit County resort will turn on Black Mountain Express to give skiers and riders their first turns of the season on intermediate High Noon.
For the last several decades, the race-to-open has become an annual "friendly" competition among the three high-elevation major resorts that sit above the Denver Front Range. This season, the southern-tier powderhound paradise may have stolen the show.
But stay tuned: We haven't heard from Loveland or Keystone.