Steamboat Springs Assuming the weather forecast is accurate, skiers and riders at the Steamboat Ski Area will be making fresh tracks on new terrain today.
Ski area officials announced a variety of runs in the Priest Creek area will open today, including lower High Noon, Rolex and West Side. The Elkhead chairlift, allowing skiers to ride out of Priest Creek and return to the Storm Peak Express, also opens today. The full effect of skiing in Priest Creek will kick in Friday, when the Sundown Express high-speed quad chairlift opens for the weekend. It will shut down Monday and then reopen for the season Dec. 14.
Lower Shadows, representing additional tree skiing, could open as early as Friday.
Ski Area President Chris Diamond said snow conditions resembling mid-January, combined with the hard work of mountain crews have allowed the ski area to accelerate its schedule for opening up new terrain. Skiers will also have more options for skiing to the bottom today, with the opening of Lower Vagabond.
A series of winter storms the latest, up to 14 inches, was expected to arrive overnight have blanketed the Steamboat Ski Area with 84 inches (7 feet) of snow at mid-mountain and 104 inches (8.6 feet) at the summit since Thanksgiving Day. The resort was reporting a 39-inch base at mid-mountain and 49 inches at the summit Wednesday. On Tuesday night, the ski area received a foot at mid-mountain and 15 inches at the summit.
"By this weekend, Steamboat will have more than 1,800 acres, or nearly 65 percent, of the mountain open, which is the most terrain this early in nearly a decade," said Doug Allen, director of mountain operations. "The resort plans to have the Sunshine and Morningside areas open around Dec. 20 and Pioneer Ridge around Dec. 26. We anticipate having 100 percent of the mountain opened by Christmas."
A summary of ski trails and mountain facilities expected to open in coming days follows:
Today, Lower Vagabond, Bashor Bowl and the Bashor lift will open for the season. However, the Maverick superpipe will not be open yet. In addition, skiers and riders will be able to carve up the Priest Creek area including Lower High Noon, Moonlight, Twilight, Rolex, West Side, Lights Out, Broadway, Daybreak as well as the lower portions of One O'Clock, Two O'Clock and Three O'Clock.
Vertigo, Ted's Ridge, Lower Concentration, Huffman's, Upper Giggle Gulch and Main Drag will also open on Friday. Heavenly Daze is expected to be ready for skiing and riding on Saturday.
The main cafeteria and restroom facilities at Rendezvous Saddle will open for this weekend and then for the season on
Dec. 14. Four-Points hut will offer services on a weekend-only basis until Dec. 14.