Photo by Scott Franz
A gondola car brings skiers back from Thunderhead on Sunday over the closed lower-mountain terrain at Steamboat Ski Area. The ski area will reassess Tuesday whether it can stay open until Closing Day on April 15.
Steamboat Springs Robi Granwehr plucked his snowboard from his SUV in the Knoll Parking Lot at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. His breath was visible in the morning cold.
“They’re definitely at their last stand,” he said about the upper-mountain trails he rode with friends Saturday. “But we still had a good time. The most important thing is that people are out enjoying the slopes while they still can.”
The Salt Lake City resident was ready to board for as long as he could near the end of Steamboat Springs’ ski season that could end prematurely this year.
Steamboat Ski Area officials said Sunday afternoon that they are confident the lifts will continue shuttling skiers up Mount Werner until at least Tuesday. But then the mountain’s fate will become a day-to-day assessment, and it isn’t known yet whether the ski area will make it to Closing Day on Sunday.
“The colder nighttime temperatures have helped us maintain the spring snow we do have, but we have to reassess again on Tuesday after we see some of these warmer temperatures again,” ski area spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said Sunday. “We’ll see how the weather has affected the trails and reassess day by day. Our goal is, and always will be, to remain open until” Closing Day.
Kasten said some trails could be affected by the weather conditions as early as Monday and Tuesday, and she advised skiers to check the trail reports on the ski area’s website.
Regardless of whether the ski area makes it to Sunday, Kasten said this weekend’s Springalicious events, which include the Splashdown Pond Skim competition and the annual Cardboard Classic, will go on as planned.
But some backup is needed.
Large piles of snow that was trucked in last week from downtown sat near the idle Christy Peak Express lift Sunday and will be used for the events.
A few children managed to sneak a couple grabs of the imported snow as ammunition for a snowball fight they started at the base of the ski area that still was very much alive Sunday.
“There are smiles on the skiers’ faces. They’re still making turns,” Kasten said after she made a few runs herself. “It’s not the conditions we had hoped for at this point in the season, but we are going to do the best with what we have.”
The rarity of this year’s dry ending to the ski season was visible Sunday as lines of gondola cars returned to the base full of skiers who had to be uploaded and downloaded over the lower-mountain trails that closed last week because of deteriorating snow conditions. And Mother Nature doesn’t look ready to help the remaining third of the mountain that still is open.
The National Weather Service’s forecast for Steamboat calls for clear skies and high temperatures in the 70s for much of the week.
“We knew the conditions weren’t going to be like they were in previous years,” said Emilio Duprey, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was halfway through a ski vacation with his family and didn’t know Sunday afternoon how much longer the mountain would remain open.
“Still, we went skiing here every day so far,” he said. “We’ve had some fun.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com