Hoppin' a ride on a snowcat to get off the piste and into the powder stashes of the backcountry is a popular pastime at Colorado resorts. But this season, there are fewer options than normal.
March in Colorado ski country calls to mind shorts, shades, sunshine and ponds. Hard to imagine after a February that saw record snowfall.
Spring skiing: when we wear fewer layers, swap goggles for sunglasses and don’t put on enough sunscreen. Strong storms in February and early March this year buried central and southern Colorado in many feet of snow, leading some resorts to extend their seasons and setting spring up for epic conditions.
All across the West you can find year-round paved roads that cross major mountain divides and offer some of the best mountain views in the nation. Plus, many are home to ski and snowboard resorts.
A number of double-digit snowfalls coursed across Colorado in early November, giving four resorts in Colorado and one in Utah a chance to open early.
All New Mexico resorts have discounted lessons. (Ski New Mexico/Facebook)
Ski and snowboard resorts all want more people on the slopes, and one way is to introduce newcomers to the sport.
Loadin' up for a trip into the backcountry (Cascade Powder Hounds/Facebook)
In greater and greater numbers, skiers and snowboarders have taken to snowcat rides into powder country all across the U.S.
Easier to get around Purgatory this year. (Purgatory/Facebook)
Each ski and snowboard season brings upgrades, improvements and just plain new stuff at Colorado resorts, where the competition for visitors is fierce.
Cut into the powder at Sunlight with discounts from Gems Card (Sunlight/Facebook)
For many years, a regular in the wallet of Colorado skiers and snowboarders has been the Colorado Gems Card – providing discount lift tickets at the state’s less glamorous mountains.
Before Epic, before Mountain Collective, before the M.A.X. Pass, there was the $25 Gems Card that gave skiers and riders deals on day tickets at eight off-the-beaten-track resorts – what some may call “smaller” areas but many see as more nostalgic and authentic. Among Gems resorts, only Loveland Ski Area sits on busy I-70, and it’s always been known as a locals’ mountain.
In hopes of attracting more folks to these hidden “gems” this season, Colorado Ski Country USA has increased the discounts on the card.
To wit: Previously, the Gems Card got its holder two-for-one tickets at Arapahoe Basin, Ski Cooper, Eldora Mountain Resort, Loveland Ski Area, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn Resort, Ski Granby Ranch and Sunlight Mountain Resort. In 2016-2017, the card holder can get the same deal twice at these resorts, plus 30 percent off day ticket twice during the season. Or, the holder can get one of each deal at all resorts.
The card costs $25 and can only be purchased online. There is a limit to the number sold, and photo ID is required when presented at a ticket window. Blackout dates are Dec. 18 to Jan. 3.
“The Gems card has been instrumental for savvy skiers looking for the best value, increased flexibility and access to more of our resorts all over Colorado,” said Colorado Ski Country USA President and CEO Melanie Mills.
About one-third of American ski and snowboard resorts have strung ziplines to keep the mountain thrills going through the summer.
Hundreds of thrill-seekers hook up and slide every offseason, choosing from full-speed rides (60 mph in some cases!) to more leisurely flights using hand brakes. Many combine with suspension bridges and other aerial challenges for a tour. Most ziplines have age and height restrictions – and require parents or guardians for youngsters.
A number of Rocky Mountain resorts and companies run off-piste snowcat powder tours, and now Homewood Mountain Resort will become the first in California to haul powderhounds to their heaven.
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.
The first major snowstorm of the season sent ski racers packing, and powder hounds reaching for fat skis.
“It’s the first powder storm of the season, and the crowd is going wild,” said Emily Moench, communications manager for Snowbird on Wednesday morning. “Powder hounds are chomping at the bit.”
More than 6.4 million skiers and snowboarders flocked to the slopes of Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) member resorts for the 2012-13 season.
Following a slow, dry start to the season, the Pacific moisture express has arrived in Colorado, dropping fresh inches of fluffy powder at locations across the state.
Skiers and snowboarders welcomed leap day 2012 in Colorado with fresh snow and deep powder. While every Colorado resort received new snow, the two-day storm left totals of more than two feet in some areas.