Ski area opens new terrain

Snowstorm bumps available trails to 18, with more expected

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The Steamboat Ski Area is capitalizing on 2 feet of wet snow that fell Thursday and Friday to open additional terrain today, with more new lifts and trails due to open Sunday. Sunday's additions will give Steamboat skiers and riders more than 3,000 feet of turns from top to bottom on Mount Werner.

"What a difference our mountain crews can make with an early season 14-inch day of snow at mid-mountain and nearly two feet at the summit," said Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations for the resort. "The snow from this storm is higher in density and will compress nicely to establish a stable base for the season. As Mother Nature continues to deliver snow and cold temperatures, the resort plans to open additional terrain and lifts as conditions permit."

Steamboat will offer 18 trails, 128 acres and 5 lifts including the Steamboat Gondola, Thunderhead Express, Preview, Christie III and Southface today.

The ski area will open several of the trails off Thunderhead today including Rudi's Run, Lightning, Blizzard, lower White Out, Lower Norther, Surprise, Flat Out, Boulevard and Upper Why Not. The resort expects to have BC Ski Way available as an alternative route from the Gondola for beginning skiers and riders by late morning. In addition, the resort anticipates opening the Christie III and Southface lifts by this afternoon.

The new Burgess Creek chairlift will not be ready for operation this weekend, though construction is a week ahead of schedule, Allen said. That means skiers and riders returning to the base or Thunderhead Express will rely initially on Eagles nest until BC Ski Way is ready midday today.

Load testing of the new chairlift is scheduled for Friday, ski area spokesman Mike Lane said. When that procedure is complete, Allen's crews will know what work remains to open the new lift.

Also today, resort crews will be preparing Storm Peak Express and a good portion of the upper mountain terrain in anticipation of top-to-bottom skiing and riding Sunday.

Lane said no decision would be made about which trails off the Storm Peak Summit will open until crews have a chance to test snow conditions today afternoon. The resort will announce which trails will open on Storm Peak on the Sunday morning snow report -- call 879-7300.

There will be no backcountry access available on Saturday or Sunday. The Steamboat Ski Patrol will establish an access corridor at the top of Buddy's Run as soon as possible to allow access to terrain outside the resort's permit boundary. State law prohibits an individual to cross any rope in the Steamboat Ski Area. Skiers and riders should enter roped areas through designated gates marked for that purpose and use designated access points for terrain outside the resort's boundary once established. Hiking up the mountain outside of open areas will be prohibited. The U.S. Forest Service and Routt County Sheriff's Office support the ski area's enforcement of trail closures as legal course under the Skier Safety Act.

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