2 Summit County ski resorts open 100% of their terrain, and others are not far behind thanks to consistent snowstorms this season

A skier begins to traverse to Whales Tail on Peak 6 at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. The signs warn of variable conditions since the high-Alpine ski run just opened recently.
Sarah McLear/Breckenridge Ski Resort

The high reaches of Summit County’s skiable terrain are filling up with soft snow as gullies, chutes and bowls collect powder thanks to back-to-back snowstorms and consistent precipitation as peak season nears. 

Two resorts are now reporting 100% of their trails open, and many others aren’t far behind. 

Keystone Resort hit the 100% open milestone on Friday, Jan. 20, after ropes dropped on Starfire. Earlier that week, Main Street and Park Lane — two significant sections of Keystone’s A-51 Terrain Park — opened on Tuesday, Jan. 17, and guests began to take turns in Erickson Bowl on Monday, Jan. 16.

“It’s incredibly satisfying. Our teams have worked incredibly hard since September to get to this point, and getting to see the excitement from our guests makes it all worth it,” Keystone Resort communications manager Maxwell Winter said. “While we are still finalizing a few features in our A-51 terrain park, we are thrilled to have opened 130/130 trails for the season.”

The pace at which Keystone opened terrain this year shows vast improvement from recent seasons. Last year, it took the resort until Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, to fully open, and it took until March 23, 2021 for all of Keystone’s ropes to drop during the 2020-21 ski and ride season. 

“Consistent snowfall certainly helps, but it takes a lot more than just snowfall to open up terrain. It takes teamwork across our mountain operations departments. Some trails require additional snowmaking and grooming to open for the public, other sections of our mountain require a deeper snowpack and extensive avalanche mitigation work from our ski patrol teams,” Winter said. “Our teams work in unison to open up each trail, and their efforts and coordination are what made this milestone possible.”

Winter also pointed to increased staffing levels this season as a reason why things went so smoothly. 

Copper Mountain is another Summit County resort that hit the 100% milestone last week. By Wednesday, Jan. 18, all 154 of its trails were open and ready for guests to carve down. 

Communications coordinator Olivia Butrymovich said nearly 4 feet of snow fell in January on top of significant and consistent snowfall in the early season. 

“Snowfall is not the only factor that contributes to our ability to open terrain on the mountain. Trail openings are dependent on how the snow and weather move into the area and that includes impacts like wind, wind direction and temperature. With these factors, snow can load and unload in different areas on the mountain,” Butrymovich explained. “This season, the way the snow came in, our patrol team was able to hold snow in place through compaction methods including boot packing, ski packing, and grooming.”

Breckenridge Ski Resort says it is nearing the 100% threshold, and the past two weeks saw openings of high-Alpine terrain like Whale’s Tail, Peak 7 Bowl, Serenity Bowl and the Six Senses, plus more. 

The Lake Chutes have yet to open, but the resort’s ski patrol director, Hunter Mortensen, says things are beginning to fill up above the treeline. 

“People have been asking, ‘When are the Lake Chutes going to open?’ I don’t know yet, but I can tell you they are in good shape – we are getting close,” Mortensen said in his weekly update. “The lines are all filling in up there, so everything you love about the Lake Chutes up there are getting closer, and we are working hard to get there. Keep an eye out on that.”

Breckenridge Ski Resort senior communications specialist Shayna Silverman said safety is the priority when opening up expert terrain at any level on the mountain, but she said the fruitful snowstorms have created excitement as more and more high-Alpine terrain opens up. 

“There’s nothing like seeing the response on and off the mountain and seeing skiers and riders enjoying newly opened terrain,” she said. “You hear chatter in getting onto the lifts, in the base areas and see people tagging us on social. It’s all super exciting and fun to see.”

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s communications team was unable to respond to media requests by deadline Monday, but their terrain openings and completion status will be updated in a brief later on this week on and in print.

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