Unseasonably Warm Ski Areas Postpone Opening Days

Keystone's snowmaking teams estimate they're only 25 percent of the way to having enough terrain open to offer quality early season skiing and snowboarding.
Keystone's snowmaking teams estimate they're only 25 percent of the way to having enough terrain open to offer quality early season skiing and snowboarding.
Courtesy Keystone Resort

While some trappings of early ski season are already upon us – Arapahoe Basin has been open since October 21, several Colorado ski areas saw a few inches of natural snow this week and the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo opens on Friday at the Colorado Convention Center – you could be forgiven for not having skiing and snowboarding on your mind while temperatures are still in the 70s here in Denver. It's been warm up in the hills, too: Keystone and Wolf Creek each announced this week that they'll be postponing their opening days, previously scheduled for this Friday.

"We are dedicated to providing our guests with the best early season conditions possible and were not able to do that for our scheduled opening date," explains Keystone in a statement; the ski area has only completed about 25 percent of the necessary snow-making to offer appropriate early season conditions according to information released on Tuesday. The resort has tentatively bumped opening day to Friday, November 11, the same day that Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Eldora are scheduled to open, and is promising daily updates to its Opening Day FAQ page.

Wolf Creek is hedging even more and hasn't announced a new date at all: There's almost no snow on the ground yet at a resort more typically known for having the most snow in Colorado.

"It's been unseasonably warm in the southern San Juan Mountains," Wolf Creek spokeswoman Rosanne Haiforfer-Pitcher says. "Wolf Creek's tentative opening date is postponed until more weather moves into the region. Wolf Creek has been lucky enough to have several early openings in the past, so we patiently wait for a new season to begin."

Loveland Ski Area historically gives Arapahoe Basin a run for its money as the first ski area in North America to open each season but has yet to announce an opening date for the 2016-2017 season.

"We're still trying to open up as soon as possible, and we got three inches [Tuesday night] and fired up our snow guns again, but we're still not quite ready to make an opening day announcement just yet," Loveland spokesman John Sellers says. "We need a couple more nights of good snow-making, or a really good snow, to get us to a spot where we can start turning the lifts."

Sellers says his team can make snow while temperatures are in the low to mid-30s, especially when there isn't much moisture in the air.

"The ideal snow-making conditions are when it's cold and dry," he says. "Unfortunately, the last few weeks have been anything but cold, so we've been battling and trying to wait it out. It looks like things are going to warm back up again now, but nobody's panicking just yet. We're confident it will be dumping up here before long."


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