More snow, openings on tap for Vail, Beaver Creek
A winter storm blew into the Vail area Monday afternoon, improving what has already been a great season that’s now more than one month old after Vail Mountain’s opening on Nov. 11.
Vail Mountain opened the Highline Express chair (No. 10) on Friday, and the Wildwood Express (No. 3) on Sunday. The resort now has more than 1,200 acres of terrain available for skiers and snowboarders and expects to open the legendary Back Bowls soon, as well.
“We need about 12 more inches of snow before Vail Mountain Ski Patrol can finish their mitigation work, including explosives, ski cutting, marking hazards and more,” Vail Mountain wrote in a blog post published Monday. “Additionally, grooming and lifts need to make sure there’s enough coverage at the bottom terminals and connection routes to last all season long. We never rush this important work, so stay tuned for more details about the Back Bowls.”
At Beaver Creek, the Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express Lift (No. 18) is slated to open on Tuesday, bringing the resort’s total operating lifts and magic carpets to 15. Following Tuesday’s opening of Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express, the resort will have just under 1,000 acres available on 70 trails.
Beaver Creek will start operating at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, as well.
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Uphill travel and Nordic skiing conditions have improved in recent days, as well. The Vail Nordic Center is now completely open, offering 17 kilometers of daily-groomed skate and classic track.
Uphill Travel is also open at Beaver Creek. Call the uphill travel hotline for conditions, designated routes and safety information prior to access at 970-754-5907.
Vail Mountain also expects to have Game Creek Bowl, which just received a new chairlift, ready in the coming weeks. The lift has a load test scheduled for this weekend, Vail Mountain said in a blog post.
“The haul rope is spliced and the chairs are positioned for install, and if you don’t see crews working up top — that means they’re down at the bottom terminal,” the post reads.
Vail Mountain is also hoping to open a new lift in Sun Down Bowl soon. Crews are currently waiting on a weather window to fly in a helicopter and string cables from the top terminal to the bottom terminal.
“Because of the steepness of some of this terrain, the helicopter flight will make this process easier,” Vail Mountain said in Monday’s blog post. “While we fly this evolution, we’ll have to close Wildwood Express (#3), and we’ll keep you informed before that happens.”
The National Weather Service on Monday evening issued a Winter Weather Advisory to last through 5 p.m. on Wednesday, saying the Vail area can expect to see a prolonged period of snow that’s moderate to heavy at times. “Additional snow accumulations of 6 to 12 inches with locally higher amounts favored on north-facing slopes,” the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office said on Monday. “Travel could be very difficult. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.”
Colorado ski meteorologist Joel Gratz with OpenSnow.com said snow totals should be “6-36 inches” from Monday to Thursday.
Gratz said he expects the southern mountains of Colorado and the Purgatory, Silverton and Wolf Creek ski areas to receive the deepest snow in the early part of the storm, and the northern mountains to receive more snow starting Tuesday.
On Tuesday, “the northern mountains should see snow getting deeper through the day,” Gratz said. “Wednesday’s weather will be a continuation of the forecast from Tuesday and Tuesday night. More northwest flow. More snow, especially in the northern mountains.”