Storm drops a foot or more as symposium winds down |

Storm drops a foot or more as symposium winds down

summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Summit Daily/Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY ” The Mountain Travel Symposium is wrapping up at Keystone the way any good ski conference should ” with fresh powder.

The gathered industry pros were a bit battered and worn, but still psyched about their sport and the mountains. They are hoping for the best, while preparing for what will probably be a tough off-season, with mixed hopes for next winter.

A bright spot is the Northeast, where early returns are strong after a good snow year and the growing popularity of last-minute, close-by trips.

The same holds true for resorts along Interstate 70, which delivered a steady stream of customers all along the corridor as long as there was good snow. Late bookings for April held their own compared to last year, partly because of the timing of Easter (April 12).

The ski tour operators and resort agents must have pleased Ullr during their evening revelry. Local hills and resorts all around the state have been walloped with wave after wave of juicy northwest flow and the storm door is open, with another foot possible by Sunday.

Base depths at the summit of Copper are ranging upward of 90 inches, and all Summit County resorts are hoisting the “epic” flag. Meanwhile, snow scientists at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center are cranking out bulletins, with the chance of backcountry slides climbing into the orange zone ” with considerable chances for triggered avalanches.

The latest round of storms should bolster the snowpack again, after late March snow brought the statewide snowpack up to 101 percent of average. Even critical Front Range drainages like the South Platte are near or above normal. That helps control summer demand on High Country reservoirs.

The Yampa and White River basin snowpack climbed to 111 percent of normal, but the Southwestern basins in the San Juans are below 90 percent of the average, even though the area was hit by big early season storms.

Check on the forecast and avy hazard at

With the season winding down, the resorts are going out with a bang. Big events, like the Breckenridge Massive and the town’s 150th birthday bash are under way, and Copper’s Sunsation is just around the corner.

At Arapahoe Basin, this is the start of high season. The resort is hoping for a good spring with the legendary East Wall now open.

The latest blast of winter should make for some of the best skiing of the season in Montezuma Bowl, the huge terrain pod opened for lift-served skiing last season to acclaim even from die-hard A-Basin fans.

It’s worth checking out the vibe at A-Basin simply for the tradition, but also because it has managed to build a brand-loyal customer base, as deemed so critical by several symposium speakers.

Speaking at MTS, Dr. Oren Harari mentioned Harley-Davidson as one of the few companies whose customers will tattoo their corporate logo on their backsides, and A-Basin is another.

Local areas have all seen about a foot of snow, more at the higher elevations, in the last few days. Go to http://www.colorado for the statewide look.

A-Basin rolled season pass prices back a couple of years, to $339 for 2009-2010 season pass. That’s good for unlimited, unrestricted access to A-Basin for the remainder of the 08-09 season and all of the 2009-2010 season. New at A-Basin this year is the $49 downpayment option.

The pass includes five days at Breckenridge and Keystone (one day can be used at Vail or Beaver Creek). Check A-Basin’s website for details on other benefits and discounts.

Copper Mountain offers a $399 season pass, good for Copper, Winter Park and a Steamboat bonus deal.

The pass is a $40 savings from last season’s debut price. All the info is online at, including details on the $49 downpayment plan.

Vail’s Epic Pass, an instant classic, is back at $579, with all the details easy to find at

When you take the greater region, from the windswept peaks along the divide from Winter Park through Loveland, and down the Western Slope to the aspen glades of Beaver Creek, the skiing experience has unparalleled diversity to compete with any ski region in the world.

Vail does part of this on its own with the Epic Pass. The resort earned legions of new fans with the multi-mountain ticket, providing access to a regional ski playground that easily matches the best of the Alps.

Some European delegates at the Keystone symposium said more regional Colorado marketing could help the state compete on an international level for international tourism dollars in growing segments like adventure family travel and eco-tourism.

The tour and lodging operators gathered at the Keystone Conference Center have enjoyed the best the Rockies have to offer, including the hospitality of the lodging and food teams at Keystone.

As the broad-shouldered, three-deep mountain sprang up from the edge of the pastures at Max and Edna Dercum’s Ski Tip Lodge it became a multi-layered destination resort, and the spring powder is on top of an offer with a $99 three-day deal.

Take a lesson with one of the mountain’s old-time instructors and have them show you some of the old lift lines sluicing down the front side. And it sounds cheesy, but Keystone’s evening fondue sessions at the Outpost are family fun, with the best Alpine music this side of the Zugspitze ” complete with yodeling.

Perhaps Klaus Obermeyer said it best, about skiing, after his joyous mountain yodel echoed through the conference hall.

“It’s is a beautiful, beautiful thing.”

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at

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