Daylight at night | SteamboatToday.com

Daylight at night

Howelsen crews squeezing in major projects before Dec. 1

Jeff Nelson said that when the installation of new lighting is completed at Howelsen Hill Ski Area, the outcome will be “the difference between night and day.”

On Wednesday, helicopters installed new metal halide light poles on Howelsen Hill. The lights will replace 17-year-old orange high-pressure lights. Crews installed new snowmaking pipes Monday. Work continues today on improvements to the ski area’s lighting, snowmaking machines and communications. The projects are part of more than $800,000 in improvements to Howelsen Hill this fall.

“The thing people are going to see the most difference in is the night skiing,” said Nelson, the ski and rodeo supervisor at Howelsen. “It will be a lot more like day out there.”

Nelson said the ski area typically would be making snow by now – not constructing major capital projects.

“We started four months later than we would have liked,” Nelson said.

The project was delayed for two reasons, Nelson said. First, a construction boom in Steamboat this summer meant there were no contractors available to take on the improvements at Howelsen. Second, budgeting for the project was done two years ago. Prices have risen since them, and the project had to raise more money through Steamboat Springs City Council appropriations.

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Now that the projects are under way, Nelson is confident the ski area will make its Dec. 1 opening day. He said improved snowmaking ability will help the ski area make up for lost time.

“We haven’t missed an opening day in a long time, and I don’t expect to miss it this year,” Nelson said.

In addition to the major capital projects on Howelsen Hill, Nelson said there are plans to create an area for snow tubing this season.

“That still has a few small hoops to jump through with administrative-type approvals,” Nelson said.

There also are plans to replace the Pony lift at the base of Howelsen Hill this year with a new “Magic Carpet” lift, which Nelson said would be the largest of its kind in Colorado. Nelson said that project likely will begin in the first two weeks of November.

Also scheduled for this year are improvements to the ski-jump hills and improvements to the Nordic trails, notably a connector trail between Howelsen Meadows and Emerald Meadows.

“We got stuff going on everywhere,” Nelson said. “Your world-famous Howelsen Hill is a real busy place.”

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com