Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort lifts are on a delayed start now, but there are plans to shift them back

Summit County residents, passholders will be able to get on lifts earlier on Fridays in January, and uphill access will start soon, allowing early access for before-work skiers

A lift operator works on opening day at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020
Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Over the first few weeks of the early season, skiers and riders at Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort were quick to notice delayed opening hours compared to the past.

During the 2022-23 season, both mountains opened to the public at 8:30 a.m. following opening day. This year, Breckenridge and Keystone have been opening their lifts at at 9 a.m. — a half hour later than last year.

With many Summit County residents wanting to get a few runs in before heading to work in the morning, the delayed opening times were quickly noticed and met with a fair amount of opposition.

In response to inquiries regarding opening times, Sara Lococo, the senior communications manager at Breckenridge, helped to clear up some of the confusion.

“We’ve actually gone back and forth between 8:30 and 9 a.m. start times in the early season over the years at Breck and Keystone,” Lococo said in an email. “We look at our operations each year to determine what makes the most sense for the resort and our skiers and riders, and our current data tells us that the majority arrive after 9 a.m. — especially in the early season when we typically have less terrain open.”

The 9 a.m. start time also allows more time for mountain operations staff, snowmaking teams, ski patrol and other departments to get everything in place for the mountains’ guests as the resorts get up and running for the winter season.

With more terrain opening later in the season, both Breckenridge and Keystone will eventually shift their opening times back to 8:30 a.m., with closing times still occurring at 4 p.m.

Breckenridge plans to make the shift in three weeks, starting on Friday, Dec. 8. This is also the planned date for the resort to open the Peak 7 base area for the season. At that time, the resort will be operating out of the Peak 7, 8 and 9 base areas. Opening dates for peaks at Breckenridge will continue to be dependent on weather and other conditions.

Keystone is expected to shift to an 8:30 a.m. opening time — just more than a week after Breckenridge — on Saturday, Dec. 16. Keystone is also targeting Dec. 16 to open the Outback portion of the resort, which will offer skiing and riding across all three of Keystone’s peaks.

With both opening time shifts occurring before the start of the new year, Breckenridge and Keystone plan to have lifts open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the majority of the season.

“This is not a standardized approach across the company, and each resort determines the operating hours that make the most sense for their guests and operations,” Lococo said.

At Breckenridge, the Community First Tracks program based out of Peak 9 will give early access to the slopes every Friday in January. Community First Tracks is marketed for locals with passes, but it is open to anyone with a valid pass or lift ticket. The program will take place on Jan. 5, 12, 19 and 26 this season. Eligible participants will be able to access the Quicksilver SuperChair between 7:30-7:45 a.m. so they can make their way over to Mercury SuperChair. People taking part in the program must use Mercury SuperChair during the early access time-slot since Quicksilver stops shuttling riders at 7:45 a.m. and doesn’t open up to the public again until 8:30 a.m.

Breckenridge and Keystone will also offer free uphill access on designated trails for the local community before and after normal lift hours. While neither Breckenridge’s or Keystone’s uphill programs are yet open for the season due to early season mountain operations, both resorts will share the news once uphill access is opened.

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