Skiers and riders will be able to explore fresh powder stashes on the east side of Storm Peak beginning Dec. 14 when the Steamboat Ski Area opens the Morningside Park chairlift. It's part of a ramp-up that will see skiing on 2,693 acres equaling 91 percent of the mountain's skiable terrain by this coming weekend.

courtesy Larry Pierce/Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.

Skiers and riders will be able to explore fresh powder stashes on the east side of Storm Peak beginning Dec. 14 when the Steamboat Ski Area opens the Morningside Park chairlift. It's part of a ramp-up that will see skiing on 2,693 acres equaling 91 percent of the mountain's skiable terrain by this coming weekend.

Sundown Express lift opens Thursday at Steamboat Ski Area for 2,300 acres of skiing

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— Travelers booked on the first flight from Denver on United Express on Saturday morning at Yampa Valley Regional Airport might plan to wear their ski clothes onto the aircraft and make tracks for the Steamboat Gondola as soon as they get off the plane.

Saturday is the day Steamboat Ski Area opens the Morningside chairlift, effectively pulling the curtain on fresh powder terrain on the east flank of Storm Peak and boosting the acres of available ski terrain to 2,693 — just more than 90 percent of Steamboat’s trails and glades. Morningside also offers access to the extreme terrain off the top of the mountain.

First Tracks, the early access program in the Priest Creek and Sunshine areas, also begins Saturday.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said that Thursday, Steamboat will add the Sundown, Sunshine and South Peak chairlifts, rolling out access to some of the sunniest and longest low intermediate trails on the mountain, including Tomahawk, Quickdraw, Flintlock and Broadway. Thunderhead chairlift will also open Thursday, allowing skiers to turn quick laps on Heavenly Daze.

The resort currently boasts a 36-inch base at midmountain and a 45-inch base at the summit, according to Kasten. Notably, the ski area has already passed the 100-inch snowfall mark, including 40 inches that fell in October, another 47.5 inches in November and 21.75 inches thus far in December for just more than 9 feet of snow.

Kasten reported that the Pony Express chairlift won’t open until Dec. 21, but motivated skiers can hike into the Pioneer Ridge trails it serves on the north side of the mountain. It’s wise to stop in at the information desk opposite the gondola building for advice about that adventure. And as always, Ski Patrol Director John Kohnke is urging skiers to ski gladed tree runs in small groups and stay in contact while avoiding the base of large evergreen trees and the snow pits at their base when skiing powder conditions.

Finally, Mavericks Superpipe and Rabbit Ears Terrain Park are on schedule to open before the holidays, according to Kasten.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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