More trails open Saturday

November's 83 inches of snow breaks Steamboat record

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— It's time to revise the record books. The 83 inches of snow that fell at mid-mountain on Mount Werner last month established a November record for the Steamboat Ski Area.

Ski area officials announced Thursday they would open more terrain Saturday. They hope to open most of the mountain's almost 3,000 acres by Dec. 10.

"The resort is working toward having nearly 100 percent of the mountain terrain, including Morningside Park and hike-to access of Pioneer Ridge, by Dec. 10," said Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations.

On Saturday, officials plan to open the Elkhead chairlift to give skiers and riders access to the full length of the Priest Creek area, including such trails as lower High Noon, Rolex, Westside and Broadway. The change means powder dogs will be able to ski the full length of gladed tree runs such as Closet and Shadows while avoiding the traverse back on Duster to the Burgess Creek and Storm Peak Express lifts.

Last month's snow total eclipsed that of November 1996, when 78 inches of snow piled up on Mount Werner. November 2003 falls to third in the record books with 74 inches. The average November snowfall for the ski area is 33.9 inches.

A look at December snowfall records lends even more perspective to the ongoing snowstorm in Steamboat. The 83-inch record established for November also surpasses all but six of the past 26 December snow totals. The December record is 165.5 inches set in 2003. The all-time monthly mid-mountain snowfall record is from January 1996, when 216.5 inches of white stuff fell from the sky.

The recent snow was enough to prompt a film crew from Warren Miller entertainment to change its itinerary and head for Steamboat this week. Cinematographer Tom Day and skiers Max Mancini, Arnie Backstrom and Dave Babic are getting their share on Storm Peak this week.

The settled base at mid-mountain Thursday was 37 inches, with 50 inches at the summit.

And there's more snow on the way. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction reported Thursday that the snow pattern will persist at least through Saturday night. West-facing drainages and slopes such as those of the Park Range, including Mount Werner, could receive between 1 and 2 feet of snow.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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