Photo by Scott Franz
Brian Farrell navigates through patches of snow Sunday near the end of the Preview run at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. The ski area plans to close most of its lower terrain Monday because of deteriorating snow conditions.
Updated April 1, 2012 at 6:17 p.m.
Steamboat Ski Area stats
Acres: 976 (33 percent of mountain)
Open lifts: Gondola, Burgess Creek, Morningside, Bar-UE, 4 Points, Storm Peak Express, Preview
Parking: The Meadows Parking Lot will close Tuesday to Thursday; and again, April 9 to 12. The Knoll Lot will remain open for free parking.
Food and beverage: The 4 Points Hut, Thunderhead Food Court, Bear River Bar & Grill, Gondola Joe’s and Geano’s Café will remain open.
Retail: The Steamboat Ski & Sport Pro Shops, Storm Mountain Outfitters at Thunderhead and Ski & Sport-Sheraton will provide rentals and retail services. Steamboat Ski & Sport-Gondola Square will continue basket check and drop off for currently rented equipment. Ski school and the Kids’ Vacation Center will offer their full programs.
Source: Steamboat Ski Area
Steamboat Springs Warm and dry spring weather has quickly melted away Steamboat Ski Area’s ability to keep its lower terrain open.
The ski area announced Sunday that they will close 77 trails Monday including all lower-mountain terrain except for the Lil’ Rodeo and Preview runs because of deteriorating snow conditions.
“Due to unseasonably warm temperatures, faster than expected deterioration of snow, and the loss of connect points (on the lower mountain), we need to make changes starting (Monday),” ski area spokesman Mike Lane said Sunday. “Skiers who want to access the upper terrain will have to start uploading and downloading at the gondola.”
It’s a system Steamboat Ski Area hasn’t had to use since the 1996-97 season.
“The weather has been unusual. It’s something we haven’t seen in a long time,” Lane said. “We’re fortunate we have a great mountain crew that knows how to move snow around and groom the trails. They’ve done a great job keeping the mountain going, and I expect they will keep doing it” until Closing Day.
Lane said crews on the mountain now will focus their grooming efforts on the Storm Peak, Morningside and Burgess Creek areas and their north facing trails, which have been holding up to warmer temperatures better than the lower-mountain terrain. The Priest Creek and Sunshine areas of the mountain will close, as well as all terrain parks on the mountain.
Lane added that the ski area still plans to stay open until its regularly scheduled Closing Day on April 15. But the closures will reduce the number of trails at the ski area from 136 on Sunday to 59 on Monday. Seven lifts will be closed, and the skiable acreage on the mountain will shrink from 2,394 to 976 acres, or 33 percent of the mountain. Lift ticket prices also will be discounted to $79 in response to the conditions.
As he exited Gondola Square wearing a giant yellow foam cowboy hat Sunday afternoon, Beau Bell described the conditions as “horrible,” but he still labeled his spring skiing session a success.
“It was great, and I would say the conditions were the only bad thing,” he said. “You cannot keep me from having a good time on the mountain.”
Many skiers donned shorts, T-shirts and spring costumes as temperatures reached the upper 60s. The National Weather Service’s forecast for Steamboat called for a slight pause to the warming trend Sunday night and Monday with a chance for scattered snow showers Monday morning and rain in the afternoon.
Jean Cobb, who traveled to Steamboat from Gainesville, Fla., said she wished she would have known the lower terrain would be closed before she bought a five-day ski pass that continues this week.
“There were a few muddy spots up there, and some of them were immobilizing,” she said on her way to Gondola Square. “But even with the conditions as they are, I love coming out here. I’ll make the best of it.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com