Hopes piling on the slopes | VailDaily.com

Hopes piling on the slopes

Matt Zalaznick
Special to the Daily/Vail ResortsSnow blankets Beaver Creek Village and the mountain Thursday morning. The ski resort reported 13 inches of snow overnight at the summit, with a settled base of 26 inches. More than 2 feet of snow fell in the previous 48 hours, with more than 4 and a half feet for the month of October.

That’s a far cry from last year when balmy temperatures and feeble snowfall forced both Vail and Beaver Creek mountains to open late. But there was a record amount of settled snow at Mid-Vail Thursday morning, said Bill Jensen, chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.

“We’re already packing snow, we’re looking at more snow tonight and we’re looking at colder temperatures next week,” Jensen said. “We’re going to give ourselves a week and then make some decisions about accelerating the opening date.”

Thursday morning there was 20 inches of settled snow at Mid-Vail. On Nov. 1, 1996 –a year the ski season opened with extraordinarily heavy snowfall – there was 19 inches at Mid-Vail, Jensen said.

There was about 2 feet of snow at the top of the mountain Thursday morning, he said.

The forecast for the weekend is for unsettled weather, which likely means more snow. Beginning next week, the temperatures should get cold enough for extended snowmaking, Jensen said.

“It’s better than sitting and rubbing our hands with it being 50 degrees, like last year,” Jensen said.

Beaver Creek, meanwhile, reported a base of 26 inches, and snowriders Thursday were already hitting the slopes, said its chief operating officer, John Garnsey.

“We had a lot of riders on the hill Thursday – kids climbing up and poaching some pretty good snow,” Garnsey said. “But with no base it’s dangerous. There are so many obstacles out there, a lot of things you can’t see.”

“With no base,” he added, “you go right to the bottom and that’s where all the obstacles are.”

Garnsey didn’t say Beaver Creek Mountain was ready to open. Despite the heavy snowfall, the weather has been too warm for ideal snowmaking.

“It’s a little bit too early to tell,” Garnsey said “Most of Thursday night it was snowing like crazy. It was cold up high but not great down low at the base.”

Sno-Cats were at the top of Beaver Creek Mountain Thursday night packing the snow on some of the flatter terrain, Garnsey said.

“A lot can happen in the next couple of weeks,” he said. “We’ll be monitoring things on a day-to-day basis and see how we look. Who knows?”

For now, opening day at Vail and Beaver Creek remains scheduled for Nov. 23.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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