Snowmaking just around the corner for Summit County resorts |

Snowmaking just around the corner for Summit County resorts

Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News
Special to the Daily/Leigh Hierholzer-Arapahoe Bas

It’s coming: The chilly mornings and frosty windshields are evidence – as is snow on the high peaks – of winter headed our way.

Falling snow and snow dustings have been observed and documented in and around Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas and Copper Mountain, as well as nearby in Winter Park and southwest in Telluride and Aspen.

And with the naturally-falling snow and the cold temperatures Mother Nature is bestowing on the high elevation areas, it’s time for ski areas to start thinking of snowmaking and getting ready for opening day.

According to Copper Mountain spokesman David Roth, the westernmost Summit County ski area is looking to fire up its snow guns on Monday. If temperatures don’t allow it, they’ll get started the first day possible.

When snowmakers are looking for a time to switch on the heavy snowmaking artillery, they’re not only seeking cold temperatures. The decision also has to do with humidity.

“It can be below freezing, but if there’s a lot of moisture in the air, it might not be the right conditions to make snow,” Loveland Ski Area spokesman John Sellers said.

The formula for the two is known as the “wet bulb” temperature, which needs to be right around 27 degrees, he said, adding that temperature still does play a big part in efficient snowmaking.

“The colder the better,” he said. “They colder the temperatures, the more productive we can be.”

Loveland doesn’t intend to start snowmaking until the end of the month, “when temperatures get cold and stay cold,” Sellers said. The goal is to keep making snow daily until the mountain opens – though Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate.

“It’s still pretty warm… We’re looking toward the end of the month. It’s what our countdown is ticking towards,” Sellers said. “Even if we had the temperatures right now, it’d probably be too early to get things started. We’re shooting for a mid-October opening.”

Over at Arapahoe Basin, employees were greeted Wednesday morning with another dusting of snow (the first one of the season came about a week ago). With snow gracing the peaks above 11,000 feet on and off, the mountain’s chief operating officer Alan Henceroth says it’s a promising sign of things to come and puts the staff that much closer to making snow, according to spokeswoman Kimberly Trembearth.

Skiers and riders who haven’t yet purchased a pass product are coming down to the last hours before prices rise and certain products cease being offered or sell out.

The Copper Mountain pass ($369) is currently on sale online and at Christy Sports locations, and FourPacks ($149) are available for renewal online or for purchase at Christy Sports or at the mountain.

Skiers and riders who want to include Winter Park can do so through Intrawest’s SuperPass ($409) and can add six days at Steamboat through the SuperPass Plus ($459). These products can be renewed online at or purchased new at the season pass office at Winter Park Ski Resort or select Christy Sports locations.

For those who want access to Vail Resorts’ epic offerings, the Epic Pass ($649) is still on sale online. It provides access to all the corporation’s mountain holdings and Arapahoe Basin without restrictions.

The vacationers looking for seven days of plenty can opt for the Epic 7-day ($499). And locals looking for a less-expensive alternative can choose unlimited skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin with restrictions at Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Vail and Beaver Creek through the Epic Local Pass ($499).

There’s also the Summit Value Pass ($409) allowing Summit County folk unlimited access to Keystone and Arapahoe Basin with restrictions at Breckenridge.

Skiers and riders can also ski Vail’s resorts by purchasing a pass through Arapahoe Basin. The Bonus Pass ($389) includes unlimited skiing at Arapahoe Basin with five days at Breckenridge or Keystone. One of the bonus five days can be used at Vail or Beaver Creek, with restrictions. The mountain’s Basin-only offering ($309) is limited to skiing Arapahoe Basin’s legendary slopes.

If you’re looking to slip out of the county to ski the other side of the Continental Divide, Loveland offers its season pass to newcomers for $359 and cuts returners a $20 break by listing it for $339. The pass includes free days at Monarch Mountain, Durango Mountain Resort and a free day of unguided skiing at Silverton Mountain. FourPacks ($129) are also available, and locals can get a $10 discount by purchasing at a ski show.

Loveland’s season pass price expires Nov. 20, the same day FourPacks are no longer available.

Idaho Springs’ Echo Mountain ends its $169 season pass sale this weekend. The pass includes free skiing at Ski Cooper and Sunlight, without blackout dates. FourPacks ($119) are also on sale.

Don’t forget to check out youth and senior pass products, available through most mountains. Pass product prices rise as the winter ski season approaches, and deadlines not listed weren’t available.

Learn more about Copper’s pass products at

Vail Resorts’ season passes can be reviewed at

See the details of the Arapahoe Basin passes at

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