Winter Park is open, and it's got the pancakes to prove it

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Winter Park became the sixth Colorado ski resort to open this morning, when the resort's lifts started turning at 9 a.m. (Wolf Creek also opened today, bringing the total to seven).

Winter Park is running three lifts up the mountain: Arrow, Endeavor, and Gemini. The lifts serve four trails: Larry Sale (intermediate), Village Way (beginner), Sorensen (beginner) and Porcupine (beginner). The Re-Railer Terrain Park is also open, for those brave (foolhardy?) skiers and snowboarders looking to tempt fate and early-season injury.

Don't pay attention to all the lifts that are listed as open  on the website: three are little moving tracks in the beginner area at the base, and one is the lift that goes from the parking lot to the base area.

Winter Park is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Doc's Roadhouse is offering 70-cent pancakes and 70-cent fountain drinks through the weekend, and there is a two-for-one deal on ski tunes at the base area. The early bird skiers who made opening day also got to snag free donuts provided by K-CMV radio.

Temperatures were moderate and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Lines at the lifts were non-existent. Snow conditions were variable, mostly packed powder, with a little bit of ice here and there. The snowcats had done a good job of grooming the trails in preparation for opening day.

"If you go where the snowguns have drifted over to the side of the run, it's pretty soft," said Mark "Snuffy" Swenson, a local skier who got his skier tag when skiing with a couple of friends named Mark, one of whose daughters said he was "big and fluffy like Snuffleupagus." Mark was enjoying his "funemployment" on his first day skiing of the year.

Those looking for the gnarly stuff at Winter Park, particularly at Mary Jane, will have to wait for Mother Nature to co-operate. The snowguns were blowing on trails over off the Zephyr lift, creating a continuous white cloud that promised more terrain opening soon, probably by Thanksgiving.

Now if only El Nino would deliver like he's supposed to.

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