Vail Mountain still set to open Nov. 17 despite current dry conditions

A cloudless sky on Nov. 15, 2016, stymied snowmaking operations at Vail Mountain. Last year, the ski resort had to push back opening day by a week due to lack of snow. This year, Vail Resorts officials say the mountain is on track for its scheduled Opening Day, Friday, Nov. 17.
Chris Dillmann | |

VAIL — Despite some snow this week, powder is a little scarce on the ground right now. Still, Vail Mountain is headed toward its scheduled opening on Friday, Nov. 17.

While a storm system that essentially ended on Tuesday, Nov. 7, dropped some snow over the high country, the website reports that Vail only received a bit less than 5 inches of accumulation.

That was about the norm in the Central Rockies, where the website’s look at automated snow measurement sites shows between 5 inches and 10 inches of snow fell. Loveland Ski Area did receive 14 inches. Just to the north, roughly 25 inches fell into Rocky Mountain National Park.

The weather forecast does us no favors in the next week. The National Weather Service forecast through Thursday, Nov. 16, shows no chance of new snow at Vail.

Despite a relatively dry fall, resorts are opening, including Vail next week.

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Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain are all set to open Friday, Nov. 10.

At Breckenridge, the Colorado Chair will take skiers to the Springmeier trail.

At Keystone, open terrain includes Schoolmarm to Silver Spoon via the River Run Gondola and the Montezuma Express six-person chairlift. The resort also will open a terrain park.

At Copper Mountain, the American Eagle and Excelerator lifts will open to serve the Ptarmigan, Rhapsody and Main Vein trails. The Eagle Jib terrain park will also open.

Main Focus

With clear skies, the good news is that overnight temperatures have dropped sufficiently to allow snowmaking.

A statement from Vail Mountain Senior Communications Manager Sally Gunter indicates that the snow guns have been running at “every available opportunity.”

The last few nights have provided favorable snowmaking conditions, Gunter wrote. The snow guns at Vail are on the Born Free and Simba runs.

“Born Free is the main focus area for snowmaking at this time,” Gunter wrote, adding that the mountain operations team is working “to provide the best possible snow surface and ski experience,” for Opening Day.

The good news is that Vail will open on time this year. At the beginning of the 2016-17 ski season, Vail’s Opening Day was delayed for a week.

The resort did open on Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, thanks to a bit of new snow.

The dry fall in 2016 also forced the cancellation of the annual Birds of Prey World Cup ski races last year. Crews from the Vail Valley Foundation are working now on that race course for the early-December events.

For now, though, it may be time for snow dances and car washing.

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