Thinking snow: Ski areas begin gearing up for season
Courtesy of Durango Mountain Resort
Ski aficionados rejoice. Moisture is in the air, temperatures are dropping, the mountains are snow-capped and the upcoming ski season is just around the corner.
Here are brief summaries of season plans for four local ski areas.
Home to some of the best snow in the world, Wolf Creek is noted as one of the state’s hidden gems.
Smaller than many local ski areas, it has seven total lifts that serve runs covering 1,600 skiable acres. With fewer lifts and less skiable acreage, Wolf Creek has been able to maintain a small-area atmosphere.
In terms of snowfall, no area in Colorado beats Wolf Creek, which receives an average of 430 inches of snowfall annually.
“We get really great snow,” said Wolf Creek’s Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Rosanne Pitcher. “The type of snow that we get makes it really easy to ski. It’s a great place to ski in abundant base areas.”
New at Wolf Creek this year is a sporty new high-speed quad lift known as Treasure Stroke. Replacing a first-generation triple lift known as the Treasure lift, Treasure Stroke promises to make skiing at Wolf Creek more desirable.
“Because the old lift was a fixed-grip chair, it came around pretty quickly,” said Pitcher. “The new lift will be easier to load and unload. It also will provide a quicker ride up.”
Also highlighting the Wolf Creek skiing experience is the opportunity to buy home-cooked cuisine at very reasonable prices.
“We buy the best-quality food that we can get,” said Pitcher. “We use real butter and real ingredients. We make a lot of our own recipes.”
As far as fees, Wolf Creek is one of the most reasonably priced areas in the region with adult single-day lift tickets available for $58. Children’s lift tickets are $31 for a full day.
Although an opening date for Wolf Creek has yet to be declared, the area temporarily opened for business Saturday, Oct. 19, and Sunday, Oct. 20.
“We’ll re-evaluate the snow Wednesday, and at that point, we’ll know for sure when we’ll be open,” said Pitcher.
Durango Mountain Resort
Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is ramping up snowmaking efforts, opening a new restaurant in the Village Plaza, and adding activities this season said Kim Oyler, communications director.
“We’ve added snowmaking equipment that will improve top-to-bottom skiing under our high-speed Six Pack lift,” she said. “It will help maintain a solid base and improve snow coverage.”
Also this season visitors will be able to take dog-sled rides provided by the Durango Dog Ranch along the old flume trail north of the resort.
“It is fun activity and offers spectacular views of Engineer Peak and the Needles Range,” Oyler said.
Guided snowshoeing and snow tubing is also offered.
A new, soon-to-be-named restaurant in the Village Plaza will feature a pizza, calzones, hot sandwiches, and locally produced artisan ice cream.
During the Martin Luther King Holiday, Jan. 18-20, skiers and snowboarders will have an opportunity to catch huge air during DMR’s Winter Fest.
“We’re bringing in a giant airbag that people can land in from a jump we will build, so that should be pretty fun,” she said.
National Geographic has named Durango as one of the “Top 10 Emerging Ski Towns in North America.” The magazine praised Ambassador Glade, DMR’s recently expanded expert terrain, and described other terrain as “a seemingly endless supply of groomed rollers for catching flight.”
Single-day lift ticket prices for an adult are $77, young adults (13-17) $60. Visit durangomountainresort.com for more information on passes and deals.
A favorite local ski hill, Hesperus offers skiers and snowboards challenging vertical terrain, bump runs, and wide lower slopes for learners.
Totally reliant on natural snow, Hesperus opens and closes on Mother Nature’s whim, and it is the most affordable in the area. An all-day lift ticket is $39, A Sunday half-day special is $29.
“Our rates are staying the same; it is a great value,” said owner Lexa Pitcher. “We’re a small, family-orientated ski hill. We’re multi-generational. People grew up skiing Hesperus.”
What’s unique about Hesperus is that if offers night skiing, a must-do experience for locals. Ski under the stars from 4 to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday for $29.
There is a tubing hill as well.
“It’s all great if we get enough snow,” Pitcher said.
Visit their website at www.ski-hesperus.com for more information.
Averaging more than 300 inches of snow and 300 days of sunshine each year, odds are you’ll find fantastic conditions on Telluride’s 2,000-plus skiable acres. And forget crowds: the trails are never packed, and there is rarely a lift line.
To accommodate the extreme skiing craze, Telluride expanded its accessible terrain to include 13,320 foot Palmyra Peak and also Black Iron Bowl. This unbelievable hike-to terrain includes well over 200 acres and almost 2,000 vertical feet on the north face of Palmyra Peak.
What can be considered some of the most spectacular in-bounds terrain in the country, Tram Shot, Sunrise and Electric Shock drain into Upper Moraine, and Lower Palmyra Ridge which lead back into Black Iron Bowl.
The access gate to Palmyra Peak (located at the upper edge of Mountain Quail) will be closed promptly at 1 p.m. in season.
Telluride officials could not be reached for comment about the upcoming season. Single-day lift ticket prices have yet to be determined.
There will be plenty of ski and board deals, including season passes, at the Hesperus Ski Swap, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2, at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
Passes also will be available at the Dolores Ski Swap, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9, at the Dolores Community Center.
Courtesy Photo/Rosanne H. Pitcher