The Skinner Team

A winter storm adds to the race for the first ski resort to open

Check out this great article from the Summit Daily about how this most recent round of snow has helped A Basin and Loveland get closer to opening

Winter storm dumps fresh powder on Summit County ski resorts


Frisco resident Joe Howdyshell woke up on Monday, Oct. 13, loaded an old pair of skis into his car and drove south.  The 31-year-old bartender learned from friends about a spot in Park County where the wind piled up fresh powder. After a 45-minute drive and a 30-minute skin, Howdyshell took his first turns of the season.  The run was a quick 200-foot vertical on a 25-degree pitch, he said. He found 8 to 9 inches of snow coverage, up to 18 inches in some spots, and hit a few rocks on the way up and out.  “I have a pair of rock skis,” he said. “Everybody needs a pair of rock skis.”


The winter storm that hung around Summit County from Sunday morning to Monday morning brought fresh snow and smiles at local ski areas.  Keystone Resort received 4 inches and began making snow on Sunday, almost three weeks ahead of its Oct. 31 opening day.  Although it is expected to warm up throughout the rest of the week, the resort will continue snowmaking with its recently upgraded equipment as long as temperatures drop low enough.  Other resorts around Summit will do the same.


“It’s been a little bit stop and go this season,” said Adrienne Saia Isaac, spokeswoman for Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, which started making snow on Oct. 1.  The resorts don’t officially track their snowfall until they open, but last year, A-Basin received about 17 inches in the weeks leading up to its Oct. 13 opening day with 9 inches falling in September.  This weekend’s storm brought 5 inches to the resort with snowmakers blowing snow into Monday, racing Loveland Ski Area to be the first Colorado resort to open.  Any rumors about A-Basin’s opening date are still just rumors, Isaac said. But that could change any day.


Every year, the resort announces its opening date 36 to 48 hours in advance, she said. “As soon as we know, we tell the world.”  At Loveland, employees unofficially recorded 8 inches of snow from Sunday’s storm, which later settled to 6 inches, said spokesman John Sellers.  Workers went around knocking snow off the base area buildings, usually a midseason activity, he said, adding that Sunday night was the best night of snowmaking for the resort so far this season.


At Copper Mountain, which will open Oct. 31 like Keystone, spokeswoman Stephanie Sweeney said the resort received 9 inches.  Some of it has been melting, she said, but it has helped out the snowmakers who started officially blowing snow a couple days before everyone else this year.  Copper announced it will have a costume contest to determine who will ride on the first public chair. Keystone also will have costume contests and other Halloween-themed festivities for opening day.


At Breckenridge Ski Resort, the last Summit County resort to open on Nov. 7, a snow stake recorded about 9 inches from the storm.  Colorado forecaster Joel Gratz, of, correctly predicted 5 to 7 inches at the resorts along Interstate 70 as well as the season’s first Vail Pass closure on Sunday.


On Monday, he wrote that the mountains shouldn’t receive another winter storm for the next 10 to 15 days.  “I’d count on a tranquil weather pattern through most of the rest of the month,” he wrote, with potential storminess after Oct. 25.