Buoyed by snow, Summit County ski areas expand terrain offerings
Eagle County openings
Vail: Nov. 21.
Beaver Creek: Nov. 26.
SUMMIT COUNTY — While this recent storm system continues to drop substantial amounts of snow on Summit County, just how much it will help as far as opening new terrain at local ski areas remains a slightly muddled picture.
Officials at Keystone were able to report 17 inches of new snow between Tuesday morning and Wednesday at 2 p.m. with as much as 7 inches coming during the day Wednesday. Breckenridge also reported approximately 12 inches of snow on the mountain during the day Wednesday, with snow continuing into the evening.
But more than just the snowfall, cooler temperatures have made it possible to continue snowmaking efforts almost around the clock.
“With the snow, we’ve had great cold temperatures for snowmaking,” Keystone Resort spokeswoman Laura Parquette said. “That is really what will allow us to open additional terrain (Friday).”
She confirmed that the resort will be able to open an additional 66 acres of terrain as of Friday, bringing their total to 106 skiable acres. Expanded terrain offerings will include their early season terrain park on Scout Trail. She said the park is expected to include around 20 features, and will mostly be a mixture of rails and boxes.
The resort’s full A51 terrain park is expected to open around Thanksgiving as scheduled. Today’s terrain expansion will also include more beginner terrain.
Lift operations at Breckenridge will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.
“We could not be more excited about all the snow,” resort senior communications manager Kristen Petitt Stewart said. “You couldn’t ask for better conditions for opening.”
She was able to confirm that any accessible terrain for Friday’s opening day will be from the Peak 8 base area. She also cautioned guests to stick to open terrain as snow may be thin in out-of-bounds areas. The resort will host opening day festivities prior to the lifts opening this morning and throughout the day.
Copper Mountain Resort is unlikely to open any new terrain over the weekend, resort spokeswoman Stephanie Sweeney said, but they expect to open the American Flyer chair some time next week. The Flyer chair services additional beginner terrain out of the resort’s Center Village. Copper Mountain currently has 59.5 skiable acres of mostly intermediate terrain accessible via their American Eagle and Excelerator chairlifts. The U.S. Alpine Ski Team has continued early season practice at the mountain but their full top-to-bottom speed course has yet to open. A source with the ski team said they may be able to have their full speed course available early next week. The ski team’s alpine Speed Center runs out of the resort’s East Village through mid-December.
Arapahoe Basin plans to open their beginner terrain around the Molly Hogan chair and Pika Place magic carpet this weekend, along with their full ski lesson offerings. The ski area began top-to-bottom lift operations for the season Tuesday with the opening of Lenawee chair at midmountain. They currently have 94 of their 960 acres open.
Loveland Ski Area now has two top-to-bottom runs accessible from their base area on Chair 1. They currently have 77 skiable acres. Resort spokesman John Sellers said they hope to also open Chair 6 soon but could not confirm if they would be able to open additional terrain in time for the weekend.
With forecasters calling for as much as an additional foot of snow by Saturday and the brunt of the storm still potentially on the way, it’s possible that some ski areas may be able to expedite terrain openings.
None of the Summit County ski areas are offering uphill travel/alpine touring at this time. Officials at each of the resorts said they need to wait for early season snowmaking operations to be complete before allowing guests to safely access the mountain outside of operating hours.
Arapahoe Basin will likely be the first to open its slopes to uphill travel. In an email, A-Basin vice president Alan Henceroth said the ski area has no definitive plans yet but snow this weekend may make an announcement possible. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland are the only ski areas that allow dogs on the slopes outside of normal hours of operation. Officials at each ski area recommend checking their websites for designated uphill routes and procedures.