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It’s been a long, dry summer, but on Wednesday, October 28, the much-awaited ski season was officially underway, as Wolf Creek Ski Area in Pagosa Springs launched a “soft opening” that will last through Sunday, November 1. At that point, the resort will announce a complete and updated schedule to run through the rest of November.
Thanks to cold temperatures and two feet of snow from the last storm to barrel through Colorado, Wolf Creek opened its Treasure, Bonanza, and Nova lifts, allowing for 600 acres of mountain to be explored. While Front Range favorites Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area are usually in the running in the annual race to open, this is not the first time that Wolf Creek has won that title. “We were the first to open in 2018–19 and also back in 2011–12 when we were also the first ski area in the country to open,” says Rosanne Haidorfer-Pitcher, Wolf Creek’s vice president of marketing and sales.
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Of course, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, so skiing at Wolf Creek felt a little different on opening day. The only amenities offered were restrooms. There were no food and beverage options, no ski school, no locker rooms, or rental shop. It was classic and old-school skiing—bring your own stuff and walk straight from your car to the lift, shred some powder, and head home.
Even without the amenities, Haidorfer-Pitcher says it was a great day to hit the slopes. “The snow was fantastic, and the crowd was mellow,” she says. Wolf Creek hopes to open additional amenities as the season continues, and more COVID-19 protocols will be in place. “Our second phase is still being reviewed by the Silver Thread [Public] Health District,” she says, but like with everywhere else, visitors can expect to wear masks and remain socially distant. Only one person is allowed on the chairlift at a time, unless you are with your immediate family, and all amenities will remain closed until phase two is approved.
Loveland Ski Area will likely be one of the next resorts to open. John Sellers, Loveland’s marketing and communications director, says that “Loveland plans to open as soon as we have an 18-inch base and tree-to-tree coverage on our opening day run.” Sellers wasn’t worried about waiting until another storm moves in. “Our snowmakers should be able to get us to opening day on their own,” he says, which means that opening day could be coming very soon. Loveland’s latest opening in the last 35 years happened on November 10, which is less than two weeks away.
Sellers says that Loveland’s representatives are watching how Wolf Creek is operating with its COVID-19 protocols, but ski areas’ guidelines are created in conjunction with local public health offices and then approved by the state. As of now, Loveland is not planning to have a reservation system in place. Visitors will have to purchase daily lift tickets ahead of time, and much like Wolf Creek, you won’t be able to ride any chairlifts with people outside of your family. Additionally, face and hand coverings will be required and on-mountain warming huts will be closed this winter.
While we still have a long way to go until all our favorite resorts are up and running, ski season in Colorado is ramping up, and we couldn’t be more excited.