Ski season kicked off Friday with early A-Basin opening. Keystone opens Saturday

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area surprises everyone with an impromptu announcement for opening day Friday, Oct. 11, holding onto their coveted title as first ski resort to open in the 2019-20 season.
Liz Copan /

FRISCO — Just as skiers and riders were getting excited for ski season to kick off Saturday at Keystone Resort, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area announced at 1:45 p.m. Friday that it would start spinning the Black Mountain Express lift at 3:30 p.m.

The lift will reopen at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, providing access to the High Noon intermediate trail.

After closing for the 2018-19 season July 4, A-Basin was closed for only 99 days, the shortest off-season in its history, according to a news release.

“We did this because the snow is really good, our people are anxious, and we are ready to go,” A-Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth wrote in his blog. “We thought it would be fun.”

Lift tickets Saturday will be priced at $95 for adults, $80 for youths ages 15-18 and $51 for children ages 6-14.

Ski and snowboard enthusiasts high-five Friday, Oct. 11, while in line at the Black Mountain Express lift at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.
Liz Copan /

Keystone to open Saturday

Keystone Resort will open at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, its earliest opening day in more than 20 years.

Keystone will operate the River Run Gondola and Montezuma Express lift with access to Schoolmarm, Silver Spoon and Last Chance runs. Skiing and riding will be open from the top of Dercum Mountain to the bottom of the Montezuma lift. At the end of the day, skiers and riders will download on the River Run Gondola to return to the base area.

In a press release, Keystone credited the early opening to significant investments in its snowmaking infrastructure, including an automated system that allows the resort to operate more efficiently during the early season.

“With Keystone’s early opening, and Breckenridge’s plan to operate through Memorial Day, the two resorts will offer one of the longest ski seasons in the country … ,” Keystone’s new Vice President and General Manager Jody Churich was quoted as saying in the release.

“Our mountain operations team put in a tremendous amount of hard work to get our new snowmaking system ready for Keystone’s early opening,” Churich said.

As part of its opening day festivities, Keystone will offer donut holes, hot chocolate and coffee at the base of the River Run Gondola. The first 100 guests in line will receive a free pancake breakfast at the Summit House atop Dercum Mountain.

Both ski areas are reporting an 18-inch base on a mix of man-made and natural snow.

Looking ahead

After the first major storm of the season dropped as much as 12 inches in the peaks surrounding Summit County, the weather forecast looks warm and dry.

“It’s kind of like Groundhog Day probably until late next week,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Phillips said about a forecast that calls for highs in the upper 50s to low 60s for the coming week. “There will be some high passing clouds, but otherwise we’re going to be on a general warming trend through the rest of the weekend.”

Phillips said high temperatures are expected to be seasonable or slightly above normal. There is a possibility of a storm next weekend, he said, but it’s too soon to say with any certainty.

“If things pan out … maybe toward next weekend,” Phillips said about the next chance for snow.

The good news for ski resorts in the area is the overnight lows, which are forecast to be in the low 20s and even teens.

Officials at Loveland Ski Area said the mountain will not open this weekend but crews are still aiming for mid-October. Breckenridge Ski Resort and Copper Mountain Resort, both of which are in Summit County, are scheduled to open Nov. 8.

A skier enjoys the first turns of the season at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, which made an impromptu announcement Friday, Oct. 11, that it would open later in the day.
Liz Copan /

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