"The Beav’ ready to bust out | VailDaily.com

"The Beav’ ready to bust out

Matt Zalaznick

“The Beav” – home of Rose Bowl, the backcountry Bald Spot and Royal Elk Glade – opens Saturday with 3 feet of snow at the summit and, according to local slope-poachers, plenty of powder stashes.

“People are getting their skis ready for Beaver Creek to open – a lot of locals are gung-ho Beaver Creek fans,” says Joe Oldani, a skier and snowboarder who works at Venture Sports in Avon.

About two-thirds of Beaver Creek Mountain – approximately 950 acres – will open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, including Grouse Mountain, Rose Bowl and Larkspur Bowl, as well as the main mountain. Seven lifts will be running:

– Centennial Express, Chair 6

– Birds of Prey Express, Chair 8

– Grouse Mountain Express, Chair 10

– Larkspur, Chair 11

– Rose Bowl, Chair 4

– Westfall, Chair 9

– Haymeadow, Chair 1

“What a wonderful start to a very promising season. The conditions out there are the best we’ve ever seen this early in the season,” says John

Garnsey, chief operating officer for Beaver Creek Resort. “We’re

already making history with our snowfall totals.”

More than 8 feet of snow have fallen on Beaver Creek since Oct. 1, giving the hill a 24-inch base at mid-mountain and 35 inches at the peak.

“We’ve got snow everywhere and it’s going to be awesome – way better than last year,” says Brock Setch, manager of the Other Side snowboard shop in Beaver Creek. “Everybody’s excited this year. Our store’s been busy and we’re hoping it will get a lot busier.”

Last November, both mountains had to delay opening because of spotty snow and unseasonably warm weather. A late-November blizzard allowed both mountains to open limited terrain on Thanksgiving Day.

No major snowstorms are expected to hit the valley between now and Thanksgiving, but National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton says there should be scattered snowfall over the next several days.

“We have a storm system dropping out of Canada that will be moving into the Central Mountains Saturday night or Sunday morning,” Colton says. “Right now, it’s fast-moving and there’s a potential to pick up a few inches. If it slows down, the mountains will pick up more.”

The weather will remain unsettled through Thanksgiving Day, Colton says.

“There’s no one strong system were keying in on, but there will be a chance of snow any day Monday through Thursday,” Colton says.

Forecasters are still predicting average snowfall this winter, he says.

Oldani, who has already hiked up and made a few turns at the Beav, says conditions this fall are outstanding, especially at the top of the mountain.

“It’s incredible. It’s the best pre-season snow ever – at least since I’ve been alive,” Oldani says.

That was pretty much the sentiment last weekend when soft groomers and deep powder in the Back Bowls lured record crowds to Vail’s opening.

So why go to the Beav when the terrain at Vail just never seems to end?

“At the Beav, you don’t have the lift lines they have at Vail,” Oldani says. “You can get away from the crowds and find the fresh snow.”

West wall of China Bowl opens Saturday

Another Back Bowl-and-a-half Saturday will add to Vail Mountain’s record opening.

Tea Cup Bowl and the steep west wall of China Bowl both open this weekend, adding another 770 acres of terrain to a mountain that’s already half open.

A record 11,000 skiers and snowboards slammed Vail Mountain’s knee-deep powder Saturday, shattering the previous opening-day record of 4,000 visitors. The total for opening weekend was approximately 17,000 skiers and snowboarders, mountain managers said.

Lifts at Vail opening for the first time at 9 a.m. Saturday include the Riva Bahn Express at Golden Peak, the Cascade Village lift, Highline and the Tea Cup Express.

Popular chairs 5 and 17 in the Back Bowls opened last weekend.

The ropes will are scheduled to drop on Blue Sky Basin and the east side of China Bowl on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, when the remainder of Vail Mountain’s 5,000 acres should be open.

With so much terrain open so early in the season at Vail and Beaver Creek, pass restrictions for Nov. 29 and 30 have been dropped at both mountains.

Until at least February, when daylight hours increase, all front side

lifts will close at 3:30 p.m. and lifts in the Back Bowls will close by 3

p.m. Blue Sky Basin will close at 2:45 p.m.

Beginning Dec. 21, the front side of the mountain will open at 8:30 a.m., and later in February afternoon operating hours should be extended.

For more information on snow conditions visit http://www.vail.com.

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

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