Keystone opening day comes with fresh snow for thousands of skiers |

Keystone opening day comes with fresh snow for thousands of skiers

Three down, two to go.

At 9 a.m. on Friday, River Run Gondola loaded the first batch of skiers and snowboarders for the 2015-16 ski season. And, for the first time in several years, opening day felt like true winter, with a fresh 4 inches of snow on the ground and more falling gently from the sky. The resort only opened two runs, the mellow Endeavor green and fast Spring Dipper blue, but it hardly mattered. The snow was light and fluffy, the crowds were rambunctious and ready, and, in the true spirit of opening day, there were free donut holes for everyone who braved a first-chair line that stretched deep into River Run Village.

This weekend, Keystone will keep skiing and riding relegated to the opening day trails, with base area access through downloading only at the gondola mid-load station. But, more trails are sure to open soon: Snow guns were blowing all day in the chilly, mid-20 degree weather, and Mother Nature was doing her part with 2-3 inches of new accumulation throughout the morning.

But, a few inches is still only a few inches in the grand scheme of things. What convinced thousands of folks to make the trip? Here’s what they had to say:

“We did this last year, and I just love that first run. No one is on it — it’s just the best run of the day. Plus, no wait like this.” (Points to line stretching into River Run Village.)

— Cesar Hermosillo of Vail, who met up with a group of skiers and boarders (including first-chair legend Nate Dogggg) to grab the first gondola cabin of Keystone’s 2015-16 season

“Keystone is dank, man. That’s the main mountain we like to hit, because it’s close and it’s never overcrowded. You just get good vibes here.”

— Alex Bruce, 24, drove up with a group of four friends from Westminster on the Front Range

“I just got done with my off-season vacation and planned my ticket to get back for Keystone opening. It’s just cool to see how happy and excited and stoked everyone is. It’s a party.”

— Amy Chadwell, 27, who braved the drive from Vail to Keystone for two runs before heading back for work

“Just the snow. I try to hit most opening days. I got Basin last week, Breck next week, Vail the week after that. You can’t beat the atmosphere and crowd. It’s why we moved here, right?”

— Dave Deryke, 38, a Floridian who moved to Summit County two years ago and was standing about halfway through the first-chair line

“Spanish class canceled a test, so why not?”

— Ashley Kellums, 19, a student at Colorado State University who made the drive from Fort Collins with three friends and received multiple jealous texts from friends who still went to class

“This is my first opening day, but it’s worth it. I’m excited and nervous, but this is the only line I don’t mind being in.”

— Shelby Hetzel, 21, who drove from Monument with her boyfriend Nathan Layman early on Friday morning

“It’s just opening day. I’m a little bummed they don’t have any park features, but no big deal. Keystone is definitely my favorite mountain.”

— Peter Chaoi, 23, drove up from Denver early Friday morning and heads back Friday afternoon

“I taught her last year and she loved it. I try to make it to at least one opening day a year, and Keystone is where I usually go. A-Basin gets insane, but this, it’s that controlled chaos.”

— Nathan layman, 28, who convinced his girlfriend, Shelby Hetzl, to buy an Epic Pass for the first time this season

“We played a little hooky today for our first opening day. We’ve just never done this before, and when the snow is good you can’t say no.”

— Tony Calcao of Boulder, who came down with a mysterious sickness in time to take his brother, nephew and young son to Keystone before returning home on Friday afternoon

“Snowboarding. This is my first time for opening day, but we try to make three or four trips every season. We got the Epic Pass this year for the first time, so we want to get out as much as we can.”

— Tu Tran, 28, who flew in from New Orleans on Thursday and will meet a group of friends on Saturday for a full opening weekend

“I come out every year, drive up from Boulder County to make it. I love the excitement of this, the infinite possibility of the season. It’s a rebirth — five months off and seven months on.”

— Stuart Hartman, 67, who drove from Erie (just outside of Boulder) for his annual solo opening day trip after 41 years on the slopes

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