It seemed like it would never come. October was unseasonably warm across the western United States, and there was some doubt as to whether ski season would arrive on time. But, as is always the case, Old Man Winter awoke from his slumber and responded to the countless snow dances and prayers from eager skiers. After a week of low temperatures and abundant snowfall, Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin opened for business today, causing a collective sigh of relief from Front Range skiers of all shapes and sizes.
FREESKIER arrived at Loveland bright and early; the temperature read a brisk 28 degrees—primo. Grizzled season pass holders emerged from their weathered ski bum vans; high school racers ready for early season training congregated in the base lodge; Summit County jibbers clicked into their skis, mangled edges and all. It was a standard Loveland affair.
“It’s opening day, finally,” said John Sellers, Loveland marketing and communications director. “We had to wait out some unseasonably warm fall temperatures, but Mother Nature finally came through like she always does. We received 21 inches of snow last week and the cold temperatures that our snowmakers had been waiting for. They’ve been working around the clock getting the mountain ready for the first skiers of the season and we’re psyched to get the lifts turning here.”
Loveland’s Mambo trail linked up with Home Run to provide skiers with a solid opening day run. There was a solid park setup with four features, as well. While the lower mountain was skiing great this morning, one couldn’t help but notice the abundant snow covering Loveland’s expansive high alpine terrain. “All of our efforts were solely focused on getting this opening day run open,” explains Sellers. “Now that we’ve started running lifts for the season we’re going to shift our efforts to some other terrain, and we should be able to open some more terrain here pretty quickly. The 21 inches of snow will certainly help and we’re hoping to have another trail or two open by the weekend.”
Over on the A-Basin side, a markedly different crowd populated the hill. The popular 6th Alley Bar and Grill was packed, serving up delicious Bacon Bloody Marys to thirsty shredders, and the line for the Black Mountain Express stretched all the way to the run-out of High Noon, but that didn’t deter people from getting after it—they were just happy to get some turns in.
While October has been warm, indeed, Arapahoe Basin director of marketing Leigh Hierholzer and the rest of the staff weren’t worried. “Because we usually open mid-October, we’re always ready to go, mid to late October. We were just waiting for the go ahead. Since we have had a complete snowmaking system since the 2003-04 season, we can anticipate what needs to be done. So it’s not a scramble for us, we plan for it and we’re ready to go when the hill is ready to go.”
A-Basin also had a park open, complete with two features that kept the crowds happy. Pro skier Jonah Williams was on hand to sample the early season goods, and said simply, “The stoke is real high, that’s for sure.”
With another storm set to hit this weekend, it won’t be long before ski season is in full effect across Colorado and the rest of the country. Here’s to another season.
Related: FREESKIER Resort Rankings