Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Ski Area will crank up the lifts 30 minutes earlier than usual next week to help lighten the rush of holiday skiers headed up the mountain.
The Steamboat gondola and other key lifts at the base of the ski area will open at 8 a.m. during the six-day period beginning Sunday.
"By opening the mountain 30 minutes early, we will be able to move approximately 1,400 passengers out of the base area, helping to reduce the congestion during our high volume period from 9 to 10:30 a.m.," ski area President Chris Diamond said.
In addition to the gondola, Christie III, Southface and Preview will open at 8 a.m. the Thunderhead Express, Burgess Creek and Four Points lifts will open at 8:15 a.m., followed by Storm Peak Express and Sundown Express at 8:30 a.m. In addition, First Tracks participants will load the gondola at 7:45 a.m., and Breakfast Club diners will board at 8 a.m.
Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations, said savvy skiers would stay above Thunderhead Peak until the daily rush has ended.
"I would strongly encourage skiers and riders to take advantage of the accelerated opening and get up the gondola early, then use the upper mountain lifts until the high demand in the morning subsides," Allen said. "Individuals returning to the base area between the popular gondola loading times should anticipate larger than normal volumes."
The Ski and Snowboard School ticket office and the gondola ticket windows will open at 7:30 a.m. Friday through Dec. 31. The main ticket office will open at 7:30 a.m. Friday through Monday. The main ticket office and ski school ticket office will stay open until 6 p.m. Sunday and Monday. All three ticket offices will close early, at 4 p.m., Christmas Eve.
Resort officials anticipate opening Mavericks-Superpipe and the new Rabbit Ears Kids-Only Park on Big Foot on Friday. The Rabbit Ears terrain park has been built just for children in ski school lessons.
Free skiers and snowboarders should know that the rails in the temporary park, currently on Eagles' Nest, will move to the SoBe Terrain Park just after Christmas.
Crews at the ski area were hoping for 3 to 4 inches of snow today as they tested the major intermediate trail in Pioneer Ridge for ski-ability.
"We're going to get a winch cat in there tonight and groom Longhorn," Allen said. "Then we'll go in there Wednesday, see what it's like and make a decision."
The trails in Pioneer Ridge are open to ambitious skiers who are willing to hike for their turns and then climb back up to Storm Peak Express or ski out Burgess Creek Skiway. Allen said the breakable crust conditions in Pioneer Ridge have kept him from opening the Pony Express Chairlift that makes the area accessible to most of the general public.
"The lift operators are ready to go," Allen said. "It's a matter of snow. It's very windblown. We'll see (today) if the snow will hold up to skier traffic."
Pioneer Ridge is a favorite area for many resident skiers looking for untracked snow the day after a storm in places such as Fetcher Glade. Most of the runs are labeled with black diamonds signifying the highest difficulty rating. Trails include Fools Gold, Royal Flush, Outlaw and Ambush.
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