Conditions worth the hike |

Conditions worth the hike

Edward Stoner
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyJacob Dinkins and his sister's dog, Melinda.

VAIL – Knee-deep. Soft. Fluffy. Not words you hear very often in the preseason.But that’s how skiers Thursday were describing conditions on Vail Mountain, which opens today. Impatient powder hounds were hiking and skinning up Thursday to get some tracks before the lifts start running today.”It’s so worth the walk,” said snowboarder Dan Krasnow, who hiked for two hours to the bottom of the Nastar lift and finished on Pepi’s Face.Krasnow said the snow was knee-deep, especially higher on the mountain.”It was awesome,” said snowboarder Lindsey Muggleston, who was riding with Krasnow. “We made some really very good powder turns.”

Skier Tim Curran said he hiked halfway up Chair 2. The snow was a little heavy toward the bottom, but it was nice at the top of his run, he said.”It’s deep, soft, fluffy and easy to ski,” he said. Vail opens at 9 a.m. with 11 lifts servicing 72 trails. The total open area will be 1,015 acres. The mountain has gotten 42 inches over the last week, and 5 feet so far this month. Vail Mountain spokeswoman Jen Brown said the majority of the open terrain will be groomed, but there will be plenty of powder left. “They know where to find the secret stashes,” Brown said of local skiers and snowboarders. Skin, deep

Siblings Leah Drew and Jacob Dinkins, with Drew’s dog, Melinda, in tow, skinned up on their telemark skis Thursday for a few turns on the lower part of Simba run.Tracks from snowmobiles and snowshoers made the trip uphill a little easier. Some of the route had also already been packed by snowcats.A steep uphill after the Cascade Way catwalk didn’t faze the two, as they continued to the less steep Cheetah run that loops back around to Simba. A ski patroller passed on a snowmobile, and workers in a passing snowcat waved.Drew said she enjoys skinning on her teles.”It’s a really good workout,” Drew said. “It’s good exercise, but you also have fun.”Drew will be at work on Opening Day, so she was trying to ski some powder before the masses get to the mountain. “This is my opportunity,” she said.

Dinkins also said skinning up is partly about getting the exercise.”I wouldn’t do it just for the skiing,” he said.’Very good snow’After about an hour, they reached the top of the black-diamond portion of Simba. They ripped of their skins and dropped into the shin-deep, soft snow.

Some blades of tall grass still stuck out from the snow, but it was deep enough that skis didn’t touch the ground. There were just a few other tracks from others who had skied or snowboarded down the mountain.The two made a few serious powder turns on the black-diamond section of Simba before it flattened out in an area that had been packed by snowcats. Melinda the dog furiously swam down in the powder.A final kink in Cascade Way was a last chance for some fresh stuff. They skied down to the rec path and headed back to their Matterhorn home.”It was very good snow for the middle of November,” Dinkins said.He’ll continue to skin up during the season, he said.”The majority will be away from the mountain in some solitary, less crowded places,” he said.

Drew said the conditions were great for preseason.”You’re always a little hesitant that you forgot how to ski in powder, so it’s good to get out there and see that everything works,” she said.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or, Colorado

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