Today is Scholarship Day at the Steamboat Ski Area. Lift tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at the main ticket office and ticket windows. Season and value passes won't be valid until Saturday.
Steamboat Springs Almost as soon as the excitement of today's opening day and the Steamboat Ski Area's first six-passenger chairlift wears off, skiers and riders undoubtedly will ask: "When will Mother Mountain open more runs?"
The answer to that question always comes backs to Mother Nature, but snowmaking crews at the ski area have a battle plan.
"Our operations crew has a plan for how they'll attack the mountain," ski area spokesman Mike Lane said. However, that plan is always subject to the "efficiency mantra."
Snowmakers take numerous temperature and atmospheric readings all over the ski mountain. Ultimately, they fire up the snowmaking guns where conditions suggest snowmaking will be the most efficient in terms of output.
That explains, in part, why manmade snow has yet to be pumped out on Buddy's Run, near the summit of Storm Peak - overnight temperatures have been warmer at higher elevations.
Likely targets for the next round of snowmaking are a trio of runs that can be served by the Burgess Creek Express chairlift: Rudi's Run, Lightning and Ego. Those trails are north-facing and promise to hold snow better should temperatures moderate.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is forecasting snow and perhaps a little rain during the next three days. That forecast is based on the valley's elevation of 6,700 feet, and conditions on Mount Werner could vary.
The forecast calls for a high temperature of 37 degrees today with a slight chance of rain followed by a 60 percent chance of rain mixed with snow Friday night and a low of 26 degrees.
The possibility of rain mixed with snow returns Saturday, when the temperature could rise to 38 degrees.
Lane said the ski area's ability to open more terrain, as always, will depend on how that forecast proves out.
Snowmaking weather returns Saturday night when the chance of snow is rated at 40 percent and the low is expected to be 14 degrees. The weather will clear Sunday night when the temperature is expected to dip into the single digits.
Steamboat Ski Area opened additional terrain in short order after opening day 2006. Storm Peak Express and 24 trails opened on the ski area's second day of operation last year.
Ski area spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said skiers and riders who want to stay current on snow conditions and trail openings can go to www.steamboat.com to view the mountain cam, photo of the day and to register for the daily "Straight Talk Mountain Report." Mountain conditions are updated daily on a phone recording at 879-7300.
- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205
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