BEAVER CREEK, Colorado - Beaver Creek Resort opens Wednesday with 101 acres of terrain and three chair lifts, including terrain in Bachelor Gulch.
The first Beaver Creek ski day of the season begins at 9 a.m. The resort will also be serving free hot chocolate and warm chocolate chip cookies to greet guests for the 2012-13 season.
Mountain operations and snowmaking crews at Beaver Creek have been hard at work leading up to Wednesday. From snowmaking on trails for opening day to terrain park construction to snowmaking and preparations at the Birds of Prey World Cup courses, work has been under way since about mid-October when temperatures dropped low enough for snowmaking.
Work over at Birds of Prey has actually been going on since the spring as crews have graded and cut a new women's downhill course in preparation for the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships. New snowmaking pipes were installed on Kestrel, the new downhill trail that will open 17 new acres of terrain this season to skiers and snowboarders as soon as conditions permit. The pipe increases the resort's snowmaking output to 680 acres, according to the resort.
That snowmaking has been critical recently as Beaver Creek and ski resorts across the West experienced record lows last season in terms of snowfall. This season, Beaver Creek has seen a couple of early season storms but accumulations haven't been enough to allow for more terrain to open outside of the snowmaking areas. The resort is reporting a base depth of 18 inches and a season total snowfall - which includes storms from October and November - of 29 inches.
Snowmaking crews continue to work in two 12-hour shifts using equipment like 16 compressors, 32 water pumps and more than 1,300 snowmaking hydrants to make snow for the early season.
That work means that the Latigo and Haymeadow trails will be available, accessed by the Centennial Express lift (Chair 6) and the Buckaroo Gondola (Chair 2) respectively. Over at Bachelor Gulch, the Bachelor Gulch Express lift (Chair 16) will be open and the terrain there - the Sawbuck trail - will ski like a bowl. A shuttle is running between the Ritz-Carlton to Centennial Station in Beaver Creek Village.
"We are incredibly excited to open on Wednesday with over 100 acres of terrain which will offer a good quality snow surface for Thanksgiving holiday skiers and snowboarders," Doug Lovell, chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort, said in a statement earlier this week. "Beaver Creek traditionally kicks off the season with a number of events from day one and our teams are poised to offer a great experience for everyone on and off the slopes."
Beaver Creek is often referred to as the locals' mountain. Rae Jensan said on the Vail Daily's Facebook page that she loves the resort's access and parking, its lack of crowds, intimate feel and terrain variety.
"It's everything one could want in a ski mountain," she said.
And the resort's commitment to pamper guests, as evidenced in its "Not exactly roughing it" tagline, is appreciated by locals and visitors alike. Drew Rouse, of Avon, likes a little luxury at the end of his ski day.
"We love escalators when we apres," he said.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.