Sundown lift opens today

Ski area adds beginner, expert terrain for weekend skiers

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The Steamboat Ski Area will bring another high-speed chairlift online this weekend to serve runs in the Priest Creek area, boosting available terrain to just more than half the mountain.

Steamboat plans to open the Sundown Express today, and along with it, trails including Rolex, West Side, Daybreak, Broadway and High Noon. Rolex and West Side are expert runs and Broadway is a trail that allows even beginning skiers to enjoy the Priest Creek area's views of the Flat Top range. The ski area now offers 70 trails on 1,497 acres served by nine lifts.

Other lifts available this weekend include the gondola, Storm Peak Express, Thunderhead Express, Preview, Southface, Christie III, Burgess Creek and Elkhead.

Doug Allen, senior director of mountain operations, is reporting that about 86 percent of the ski area's beginner terrain is open. Forty-one percent of intermediate terrain; 36 percent of intermediate/advanced and 51 percent of the advanced/expert terrain is now available to skiers and riders.

If storms forecast for this weekend and next week come through, the ski area will look tentatively at opening more terrain next weekend.

"As Mother Nature continues to deliver snow and cold temperatures, the resort plans to have the Sunshine area open around Dec. 13, if conditions allow," Allen said.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is forecasting snow showers for Steamboat beginning today and continuing into Tuesday. The chance of snow peaks at 60 percent Sunday night.

Steamboat, with a mid-mountain base of 26 inches, nearly leads the state's major ski areas. A snow report maintained by Colorado Ski Country USA shows Silverton Mountain, with one chairlift high in the San Juan Range, has the most snow at 39 inches. Winter Park/Mary Jane has a 25-inch base, Vail reports 20 and Aspen Mountain has a 14-inch base.

With the impending arrival of the holiday, Steamboat is looking ahead to establishing mid-season procedures at its parking areas. Beginning on Dec. 15, the parking structure adjacent to the Gondola Transit Center will become a paid parking facility with fees of $10 a day and $5 after 3 p.m.

The resort is offering vacation packages of short duration to lure Front Range skiers to enjoy the early December snow. They begin at $122 per adult (double occupancy) for two nights lodging, two days of lifts and free skiing for children. Packages can be viewed at www.steamboat.com

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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