Keystone Resort becomes Vail Resorts’ first ski area to open for the 2023-24 season

Opening day included 2 miles of groomed terrain and a hike-to terrain park

Katie Young/Keystone Resort
Opening day veteran Thomas “Trailer Tom” Miller leads the way through Keystone Resort's opening day banner on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023.
Katie Young/Keystone Resort

Keystone Resort may have not had the several inches of powder that Arapahoe Basin Ski Area had on its opening day on Sunday, but the stoke among skiers and riders was just as high for Keystone’s opening day on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

With several hundred skiers and riders lined up in the River Run Gondola queue, house music blared from speakers, hot cocoa was poured and donuts were devoured, all helping to keep enthusiastic guests warm amid the cooler morning temperatures.

At the front of the lengthy, high-energy line stood first-chair veterans Thomas “Trailer Tom” Miller and Nate “Nate Dogggg” Nadler. The duo claim they have successfully earned the honor of being on the first chair or gondola up the mountain for the past 31 seasons — both riders were on A-Basin’s first chair on Sunday and said they’d been waiting in line since Monday night for Keystone’s first chair on Wednesday. 

“This is Trailer Tom’s and I’s 31st year in a row having first chair,” Nadler said. “This is our second first chair of the season.”

With nothing to do but stand in line for more than 36 hours, Nadler and Miller say they passed the time by keeping the mood fun and light-hearted at the base.

“We have been just smiling and making stupid posts on the internet,” Nadler said. 

The longtime veterans were not the only guests excited to begin the season at Keystone. Still buzzing from last night’s Halloween candy haul, a few dozen children joined guests in line — pumped to skip school and get in their first turns of the season.

Robert Tann/Summit Daily News
The first skiers and boarders of the 2023-24 ski season pictured at Keystone Resort on Nov. 1, 2023 — the resort’s opening day.
Robert Tann/Summit Daily News

Ten-year-old snowboarder Gabriel Max from Parker said he was most excited for beginning another season of snowboarding with his father and sister while fearlessly hucking it off some jumps. 

After Miller and Nadler, Anthony “Ant” Ugalde, Taylor Parris and Kirin Kawamoto all helped break the official opening day banner at the top of Dercum Mountain as skiers and riders took their first turns of the season down the freshly groomed corduroy on the Schoolmarm and Silver Spoon trails.

“This is an incredible opening day here at Keystone,” communications manager Max Winter said. “We have 2 miles of skiing on our Schoolmarm and Silver Spoon trails, we have a hike-to terrain park (top of Spring Dipper) and we also have a beginner learning area on our Kokomo Carpet.”

Throughout the morning. Riders weaved down the opening day terrain, working to get their legs back under them after the offseason. Once reaching the Montezuma Express lift at mid-mountain, guests could either lap the lift along the same terrain or hike to the River Run Gondola to download from the slopes.

For Keystone and guests alike, this is very much just the beginning of another exciting and promising season at the resort.

“For the first time, our guests are going to have lift access to our Alpine terrain with the addition of our Bergman Express chairlift,” Winter said. “That is going to be over 550 acres of newly accessible terrain so everyone is going to be able to have that experience of getting to the very top of the mountain and experiencing our high Alpine.”

Robert Tann/Summit Daily News
A gondola ascends from River Run Village at Keystone Resort on Nov. 1, 2023.
Robert Tann/Summit Daily News

Guests also got a chance to try out Vail Resorts’ new mobile pass system for the first time, which allows guests to get their pass scanned without a physical pass or lift ticket via low-energy Bluetooth technology. Epic Pass pass holders and single-day lift ticket guests can now use the My Epic app to get their pass scanned before loading on base-area lifts. The new system also aims to reduce the amount of waste by cutting out the need for plastic passes and paper lift tickets.

“Ultimately, we want to make getting on the slopes as easy as possible for all of our guests,” Winter said. “That is a great way to make it easy — handy from the moment you get in the parking lot to the moment you are on the slopes. It also aligns to our commitment to zero, reducing paper and waste wherever we can.”

With Keystone’s first day of the 2023-24 season now in the books, mountain operations teams will continue to work toward opening other areas of the mountain. 

“In terms of our upcoming terrain progression, we are making great progress on our lower terrain and, if cold temperatures hold, hope to be able to offer top-to-bottom skiing in the next few days,” Winter said. “From there, we’ll focus on access to and from our Mountain House base area and growing our footprint across Dercum Mountain before expanding towards North Peak.”

In regards to other ski areas, Winter Park Resort in nearby Grand County and Eldora Ski Resort near Boulder are expected to be the next ski resorts to open in Colorado after announcing Friday, Nov. 3, opening days. 

Loveland Ski Area is planning to open as soon as possible, with Breckenridge Ski Resort’s anticipated opening on Nov. 10 and Copper Mountain Resort’s on Nov. 13. 

To purchase Epic Pass products on sale, visit Pass prices will increase on Nov. 19. Keystone is now open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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