Vail Resorts announces opening dates as snow falls in Summit County and on Pikes Peak — signs that winter is coming
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the ski lift Rip’s Ride.
Snow has fallen on Colorado peaks. Hoosier Pass turned slick with sleet Monday. Some Summit County resorts have announced their opening days for the winter season. Summer seems to be wrapping up with fall on the way and winter following close behind.
On Monday, Vail Resorts announced several opening days, with Keystone leading the way. Keystone announced a “mid-October” opening day, meaning the ski season could be less than 60 days away.
Breckenridge and Vail ski resorts both are set to open Nov. 11. What sets Keystone apart is its state-of-the-art snowmaking system, Vail Resorts Senior Communications Specialist Shayna Silverman said. Its guns can sense temperature and humidity and output snow as efficiently as possible.
“They’re able to crank out snow at every opportunity,” she said.
Keystone plans to prioritize snowmaking on trails for all skill levels that connect different areas of the mountain in order to increase accessibility.
Loveland, Copper and Arapahoe Basin ski areas have yet to announce their opening days. Loveland expects to start its snowmaking operations in October as it traditionally does. Other Vail Resorts areas like Beaver Creek and Crested Butte will open winter operations Nov. 23, one day before Thanksgiving.
With the exception of Keystone’s opening day, Vail Resorts-owned properties in Summit County likely won’t skew far from their opening day plans, Silverman said. The dates are based on extended weather forecasts and previous opening days.
Last season, Keystone opened Oct. 22, and Breckenridge and Vail opened Nov. 12.
Vail Resorts places limits on day passes to reduce crowding
Vail Resorts will also institute new limits on its sales of day passes. The limit will be set automatically based on percentages and expected crowds, Silverman said. The limit will not impact Epic Pass holders or anyone who books a ski lesson.
“This is happening at every single resort across the country, every single day,” Silverman said, speaking about Vail-owned resorts.
She said Vail Resorts doesn’t anticipate passes selling out every single day, but the company expects the limit to play a role on powder days, holidays and other peak times. Limiting lift tickets is one way of enhancing the guest experience, Silverman wrote.
Breckenridge Ski Resort says new lift will open this year
Breckenridge’s two-person Rip’s Ride chairlift at Peak 8 is getting a facelift to a high-speed quad. The new lift aims to help beginners spend more time on the snow and less on the chair, in addition to speeding up access from Rip’s Ride to Peak 9, Silverman said.
Upgrades to 5-Chair will come next year, as will grading work and the removal of old buildings, and Silverman said those changes will further enhance the learning experience at the Peak 8 base area.
Visitors to Vail will also see two lift upgrades this season. A new high-speed quad, the Sun Down Lift, will connect Sun Down Bowl to Wildwood, increasing access between Lionshead Village and the Legendary Back Bowls. The four-person lift, Game Creek Bowl, will increase to a high-speed six-person chair.
The announcement from Vail Resorts on Aug. 22 arrived serendipitously since the day before saw Pikes Peak blanketed in white for the first time this season. The mid- to late-August flurry may not be special, but it is a sign of things to come.
“It’s very normal,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Wankowski said.
The weather service has no climatology on Pike’s Peak, so the weather service could not report the exact accumulation amount, he said, but visitors in the area reported about an inch of accumulation.
Recent snow on Hoosier Pass resulted in a two-vehicle crash Monday morning that created traffic issues into the afternoon.
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