Skiers find plenty of powder at the Beav’ |

Skiers find plenty of powder at the Beav’

Veronica Whitney
NWS Beav Open1 BH 11-22

Josh Payne, a skier and Jed Herdt, a snowboarder, agreed on one thing Saturday: There was more powder at Beaver Creek’s opening day than they expected.

“Skiing is awesome! I didn’t expect it to be this good,” said Payne, 21, a student at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, as he warmed up with a coffee at Starbucks.

After riding all morning, Herdt, 21, of Denver, was ready for a beer, he said.

“The top of the mountain was incredible,” said Herdt as he walked in the Coyote Cafe.

Beaver Creek couldn’t have asked for more for it’s opening day: There was powder almost everywhere and it snowed hard most of the day.

Although some people like Jen Frietsch were waiting on line at 8:30 a.m., the mountain opened at 9 a.m. as officially planned. The mountain was crowded by skiers and snowboarders, but there were no lines on the lifts.

Beaver Creek opened a little less than a third of its skiable terrain: 470 acres and 31 trails. When fully open, the mountain has 1,625 acres of skiable terrain and 146 trails. About half of the terrain on Saturday was groomed and the other half had powder.

“We had a great opening,” said John Garnsey, Beaver Creek’s chief operating officer. “We had a good crowd and everyone was having a wonderful time.

“We didn’t have as much natural snow as last year, but that wasn’t normal. We’re on pace this year with snow,” Garnsey added.

Since Nov. 1, Beaver Creek has received nearly five feet of snow and is

reporting a 19-inch settled base at mid-mountain. The average snowfall for November is 65 inches at the top and by Saturday morning, the Beav had 55 at mid-mountain. And a couple more inches had accumulated by noon Saturday.

Snow and cookies

For Sally and Randy Bowers of Beaver Creek this was their 20th season skiing at the Beav’.

“I’m so excited I have butterflies in my stomach,” said Sally Bowers, 59, as she waited for her first ride up on the chairlift. “I broke my arm last year, so I’m going to stick to the easy terrain to begin.”

Randy Bowers, however, said he was heading straight to Rose Bowl.

While beginners and intermediate skiers cruised the groomed trails, expert skiers headed to Ripsaw and Cataract for plenty of powder and steeper pitches.

Opening day was full of smiles, laughs – some coming from riders in the woods – and welcoming greetings from the Beaver Creek crew. Debbie Buckley’s mouth was full of chocolate even before she had her first run.

“I’m very excited about the opening and now … with the cookies, it’s even better,” said Buckley of Avon.

Minutes after the mountain opened, Mark Simensen of the Toscanini restaurant walked by the Centennial Express lift with two trays full of still-warm chocolate chip cookies.

“Ohhh, those smell good,” said Scott Tidwell as he scanned ski lift tickets. This is Tidwell’s third season in the valley and his second working for guest services.

“I’m excited the season started,” Tidwell said. “I’ll get paid now and … I can ski.”

Colder and snowy

Frietsch started her day early, but by 11:15 a.m. she said she’d had enough.

“It was really nice out there, but the snow started getting a little heavy and it got colder. When we first got to the top, it was 20 degrees. By 11 a.m., it was 8 degrees,” she said.

The National Weather Forecast in Grand Junction said Saturday afternoon it expected some heavy snowfall through the night with total accumulations of 8 to 16 inches. And it’s going to get colder, too. Highs for Sunday will probably be in the single digits.

“Ripsaw was my favorite,” said Brad Rettig, 24, of Denver, who skied Vail Friday. “The snow is a little heavy, but I can’t complain. This is just building a base.”

Although there was plenty of snow for the beginning of the season, some skiers and riders hit some rocks Saturday in the un-groomed terrain.

“There’s plenty of snow, but there could still be some inherent risks on the slopes,” said Adam Borg, assistant director for the Beaver Creek ski patrol. “Our goal is to provide a safe surface.”

Christina Schleicher, spokeswoman for Beaver Creek, said the same terrain will be open today.

“And it seems (Sunday) could be another powder day!” she said.

What lifts are open

– The Centennial Express Lift, Chair 6

– Haymeadow Lift, Chair 1

– Cinch Express Lift, Chair 8

– Rose Bowl Lift, Chair 4

Lifts are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The ticket office opens at 8:30 a.m.

For grooming reports, log on to

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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