A pair of skiers punctuate the new season at Copper Mountain. (Copper Mountain/Facebook)
Just as doomsayers raised their voices, Mother Nature came to the rescue in the West and turned the conversation to, “When are you opening?”
For many resorts in the Rockies, Sierra and Cascades, the answer is a resounding “soon.” Yes, terrain will be quite limited – often a couple of runs in the beginner/intermediate areas – but many ski and snowboard areas put up cheap ticket deals to get people to the slopes as soon as possible.
Significant snowfall coursed across the northern tier of the Western mountains in the past week, dropping as much as a foot on Steamboat which opens this week. Most Colorado resorts that pushed back their traditional pre-Thanksgiving opening days have put a new date on the calendar. Colorado’s Keystone, Breckenridge, Winter Park and Copper Mountain all dropped the ropes this past week, after a week’s delay. Eldora is set drop the ropes this week.
Out west In SoCal, Mammoth Mountain has been open for a couple of weeks and, in the Sierra, both Boreal and Mount Rose began spinning lifts this past week while a slew of other Tahoe-area resorts plan to open for Thanksgiving.
Early snow has come fitfully to Utah, but Snowbasin plans to lead the pack with a Wednesday (Nov. 23) start, followed by Park City on Friday (Nov. 25). A bunch of Utah’s 15 resorts haven’t announced an opening yet.
Up in the Northwest, Mount Baker expects to win the race this season by kicking off the season on Nov. 23. Others have coverage, but await more.
OpenSnow forecasters see multiple storm systems rolling in off the Pacific in the next couple of weeks, bringing significant snowfall to the mountains and brightening the prospects for early-goers all across the West.
Grooming 'cats work hard to get Keystone open. (Keystone/Facebook)
Loveland's snow guns have been blasting in the last couple of weeks. (Loveland/Facebook)
UPDATED Wednesday, Nov. 9: Loveland Ski Area becomes the second ski and snowboard mountain in the Rockies as the resort is all prepped and ready for opening on Thursday (Nov. 10).
Free rides all the time at Bretton Woods (Bretton Woods/Facebook)
A ride up a ski lift in the offseason both gives a different perspective on a favorite mountain and gets the juices flowing for the upcoming skiing and snowboarding season.
The first storm cycle of the season has brought much-need precipitation to California and the Pacific Northwest, and enough snow to open a few more resorts, and expanded terrain offerings in Colorado.
Minnesota’s Afton Alps and Michigan’s Mr. Brighton are both part of the Epic Pass, which offers unlimited access to all of Vail Resorts western ski areas as well as both Midwest resorts. It offers as much slope time for diehard Heartland skiers and riders as they want.
New lifts and trails often get the headlines during the off-season, but much of this summer’s work in Colorado centers around lodges, base facilities and restaurants.
Vail Resorts will offer all Colorado kindergarten through fifth graders 16 days of free skiing - four days each at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone for the remainder of the current 14-15 season and beyond.
Quite clearly, the future of the ski and snowboard industry will rely upon a younger generation that wants to get onto the slopes and trails at a winter resort.
Colorado’s population keeps growing, so newcomers to the Colorado mountains can get a two-weekend primer in what skiing and snowboarding in the Rockies is all about from Keystone Resort.
Nine ski areas across North America have been named finalists for Golden Eagle Awards by the National Ski Areas Association. Three winners will be named at the NSAA convention April 30-May 3 in California.