Turkey day delight: More terrain set to open across ski country

JANICE KURBJUNsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

More snowflakes falling on top of several inches of snow from earlier this week means more terrain will open at local and nearby resorts – just in time for the Thanksgiving weekend. Today marks the start of Keystone Resort’s cat skiing operation, said Keystone spokesman Ryan Whaley. He added that more terrain will open today on North Peak – with more possibly opening throughout the weekend. The resort began opening North Peak on Wednesday. They also unleashed the park rats on the renowned A51 terrain park, which has seven jumps and more than 30 features. It’s a strong feat to have the park open before Thanksgiving, Whaley said.Over at Breckenridge Ski Resort, approximately 1,100 total acres should be open for the holiday weekend. High-alpine terrain on Peak 8 expands with the opening of Imperial Express. It and its sister chairs – the Colorado Superchair, Rocky Mountain Superchair, Rip’s Ride, Chair 5 and Chair 6 – will haul skiers and riders up Peak 8 for potentially fresh powder turns today. Peak 9 opened Wednesday with five trails and full base-area services as well as Ski & Ride terrain off the Quicksilver Super6 chair. Lifts on Peak 9 include Beaver Run Superchair, Quicksilver Super 6, Mercury Superchair, Peak 8 SuperConnect and Snowflake. Resort guests can access Peak 8 terrain via chairlift as well as trail access. On the west side of the county, Copper Mountain is set to open the Super Bee and Timberline lifts, along with some terrain in each area. Skid Road opens Thursday, as well, giving guests access to East Village from the main mountain.Copper Mountain spokesman David Roth said Thanksgiving Day also marks the opening of the Superpipe. “This is barring anything major to happen in the next 24 hours,” he said, “but (it) should be good to go. This will be the sixth consecutive season that Copper will have the first Superpipe open in North America.”Up on the Continental Divide, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland ski areas already sit with a strong list of open terrain. Further openings are weather-dependent, they say, but new snow enabled Arapahoe Basin to drop some ropes off Pallavicini Lift Wednesday. Spokeswoman Kimberly Trembearth said Standard, 13 Cornices and Lower International are now open. Other slopes currently accessible from Pali include Slalom Slope, Scudder, West Wall, Grizzly Road and Radical. She added that Thanksgiving Day marks the opening of the High Divide Progressive terrain park on Sundance. Approximately 40 percent of the mountain is open with about 350 acres open. Lifts turning include Black Mountain Express, Lenawee, Pallavicini, Molly Hogan and Molly’s Magic Carpet.”We’ve had our best Thanksgiving coverage in years for both terrain and snowfall – 57 inches of snowfall since opening,” spokeswoman Leigh Heirholzer said, adding that the mid-week storm could enable staff to open more terrain.Loveland has 56 trails and more than 700 acres of terrain open. Chair 4 and Chair 8 opened last week – last season, neither opened before the New Year. “(These are) definitely the best early-season conditions in years,” Loveland spokesman John Sellers said. “We are offering mid-season conditions at early-season prices.”Sellers added that further openings are entirely weather-dependent, but added that with more good snow, “we could certainly open more terrain.”

Terrain expanded to 2,743 open acres as of Wednesday, including China, Tea Cup and Sun Up bowls – and Golden Peak and Cascade Portals. “We always have a lot to be thankful for in Vail, but having virtually the entire front side plus Sun Up, China and Tea Cup bowls and 2,700 acres of terrain open before Thanksgiving provides us with an overabundance of reasons to give thanks this year,” said Chris Jarnot, chief operating officer of Vail Mountain, in a press release. The Riva Bahn Express and Gopher Hill lifts opened Wednesday at Golden Peak, as did Cascade Village and Sourdough lifts. China Bowl and Tea Cup Bowl opened mid-day Wednesday, served by the Orient Express and Tea Cup Express lifts. Two Elk Lodge is slated to open on Friday. All base area ticket offices are now open. Check the website for the snowsports schools that are open for lessons. Vail lifts start turning at 9 a.m. in the early season.

Beaver Creek kicked off its 30th season Wednesday, with freshly baked cookies along with 426 acres of terrain, 11 lifts and a mix of trails for all ability levels. As was the case in Summit County, Mother Nature lent a hand with natural snow and cold temperatures. Lifts open in time for Thanksgiving and the holiday weekend include Centennial Express, Cinch Express, Buckaroo Express, Drink of Water, Bachelor Gulch Express, Strawberry Park Express for access to Bachelor Gulch only as well as five surface lifts. Portions of terrain in each lift areas are open, as is a small jib park near the base of Bear Trap trail. The area’s ski and snowboard school also opened Wednesday. Cold temperatures and snow in the forecast could enable more terrain to open throughout the weekend.

Winter Park opened Nov. 17 with a powder day, staff said, and though further terrain openings this weekend are weather-dependent, they could happen with more snow in the forecast.”You could hear the hoots and hollers of people coming down the mountain,” spokeswoman Mistalynn Lee said about the resort’s first few days. “There were snowboarders doing somersaults in the powder fields above Gandy Dancer … they were like kids.” Mary Jane opened on Saturday with all terrain open on skier’s left of Super Gauge Express. Lee said Challenger Lift opened Tuesday with access to Sleeper and other terrain as conditions permit, and added that more terrain to skier’s right off the Super Gauge Express is expected to open soon. Olympia and Looking Glass lifts opened Tuesday as well.Sunnyside lift is open with access to Edelweiss, Bluebell and Corona Way. Prospector Lift also opened to Jack Kendrick and Vista Dome.

The resort opens today at 9 a.m. with more than 1,000 acres of open terrain – more than double what was available last year – including top-to-bottom skiing and riding on both Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. Spokesman Jeff Hanle said Aspen Mountain has 403 acres open and there are 610 of available acreage at Snowmass. “We will open more for short periods of time to get tracks on the steeper terrain, and we are close to opening more big chunks of terrain if this storm produces as it is expected to (Tuesday) and (Wednesday).”Available lifts on Aspen Mountain include the Silver Queen Gondola, Ajax Express and Gent’s Ridge. Top-to-bottom skiing is available on Spar and Copper. Snowmass opens the Village Express 6-Pack, the Big Burn, Elk Camp Gondola, Elk Camp quad, Sam’s Knob and the Meadows chair lifts. “Snow and cold temps have made conditions ideal for opening. … We have more than three feet of natural snow on the ground at the top of Snowmass. With new snow expected through Wednesday, we are looking forward to a full blown powder day for Thanksgiving,” Hanle said.SDN reporter Janice Kurbjun can be contacted at (970) 668-4630 or at

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