SnoCast: Tricks and Treats in the Forecast

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The weather won't be too scary this Halloween weekend. Tricky weather for the East, while the West eagerly awaits it's next fluffy, white treat. Let's dive into this week's SnoCast forecast. 

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SnoCast Returns For the 2022-23 Winter Season

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Another winter season is nearly here, and that means we're gearing up for another season of SnoCast. This weekly weather blog takes a deep-dive into the forecast, seeking areas of great ski and ride weather from coast to coast. 

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What's New At Early-Openers Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Keystone

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With aspens shedding their leaves and snow guns blasting, skiers and riders are focused on the Colorado high country for the definitive sign of winter's arrival: the race to be season's first resort to open.

The two traditional Continental Divide contenders -- Arapahoe Basin and Loveland -- will welcome skiers and riders with replacement lifts. The third competitor, Keystone, will show off a mountain-top restaurant expansion.

At A-Basin, the mid-mountain Lewanee chair gets an upgrade from a 21-year-old fixed grip quad to a high-speed six-seater. The new faster, heavier chair is expected to give some relief to a choke point on front-side and reduce wind delays.

The Lewanee lift, known as "Len", serves much of A-Basin's expert, alpine terrain from East Bowl to top of Beavers cliffs. It also gets hungry skiers and riders more quickly to the Steilhang eatery, and the remodeled and enlarged Il Refugio atop the ridge.

Over at Loveland, a replacement lift on the main mountain and a new base lodge at Loveland Valley are set to go. The 45-year-old Chair 6 at Loveland's mid-mountain will add a seat to become a new fixed-grip triple to deliver more skiers and riders to the blues, greens and terrain parks on the south flank of the 1,800-acre mountain.

The brand-new base lodge at beginner-friendly Loveland Valley expands by 14,000 square feet the space for ski school, rentals, ski patrol, and a bar and restaurant. With more parking put in last season, Loveland Valley has upped its services for beginners and novices as they improve their skills before moving up the hill to the main mountain.

And just off the Divide above Dillon, much of the news from Keystone was what didn't happen this summer. The Vail-owned mountain was set to debut intermediate-friendly Bergman with a new chairlift, but boundary issues with the National Forest put the project on hold. However, Epic Pass holders can get on the mountain one hour earlier than others.

Instead, skiers and riders who frequent the 3,149-acre mountain will have more space to sit and relax with a 6,000-square-foot expansion of the Outpost Restaurant atop North Peak.

 

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West's Resorts Begin To Fire Up Snow Guns For Opening Day

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With opening dates on the horizon, crews at many resorts in the West have been testing snow guns -- and looking longingly to the skies -- in hopes of putting down a base of snow in October.

Most ski and snowboard resorts have announced their anticipated opening days, although persistent warm weather in some regions may have something to say about that. A frequent check of resort websites is recommended.

However, hints of winter whiff the air and the high-country leaves are turning, so it's time to haul skis and snowboards out of storage and get them ready for the season.

The informal race to be the first to open in the nation falls upon the highest-elevation mountains along the spine of the Colorado Rockies. Traditionally, it's been Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Loveland that vie for the title, but Wolf Creek surreptitiously snuck in last season by firing up its chairlifts on Oct. 16.

This year -- if official dates are to be believed -- Keystone will lead the pack by opening on Oct. 21, followed by Arapahoe Basin on Oct. 22, and Loveland and Wolf Creek on Oct. 29.

In California, 7,700-foot-high Boreal on Donner Pass is optimistic to begin on Oct. 28, while Mammoth Mountain plans to be in second place with an Nov. 11 opening. Tahoe's Heavenly has penciled in Nov. 18 for its first chairs.

Despite having middle-of-the-pack summit elevation, Lookout Pass (5,650 feet) on the border of Idaho and Montana has pushed its first day all the way up to Nov. 6 -- a full two weeks ahead of its previous earliest opening. Schweitzer, Sun Valley and Tamarack all plan to follow later in the month.

A pair of Utah mountains -- Brian Head and Park City Mountain -- hope to be the first in the Beehive State with openings on Nov. 18.

Skiers and riders in Washington will have to wait until December for Stevens Pass (Dec. 2) and 49 Degrees North (Dec. 3), while Oregonians will have to bide their time until Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline (Dec. 11). Mt. Bachelor expects to follow close behind on Dec. 12.

In New Mexico, Sipapu has had a lock on first-to-open in recent seasons. For 2022-2023, the family resort tucked into the Sangre de Cristos has tabbed Nov. 18 to begin spinning its lifts.

 

 

 

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Up-And-Down Offseason For Vail Resorts' Lift Plans

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Unauthorized road construction by Vail Resorts' contractors has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to force a delay of opening the much-anticipated Bergman Bowl at Keystone until to the 2023-2024 season.

Work had already begun this spring to prepare 550 acres of intermediate alpine terrain for the coming 2022-2023 season. That work including installation of a new high-speed six-pack chairlift.

However, in July, the Forest Service discovered that crews had built a temporary construction road beyond permit boundaries, and issued a cease-and-desist order until damage to fragile treeline and above-treeline tundra was repaired.

In hopes of keeping the much-touted project on schedule, Keystone officials quickly worked up a restoration plan to remove damage done by the road and reclaim a stream crossing that had been filled in by crews.

Despite saying the restoration project was one of the best they had ever seen, officials of the White River National Forest said further environmental review was necessary before work on the lift could resume.

That led Vail Resorts to announce that Bergman Bowl, long a hike-to and snowcat favorite off the top of North Peak, will remain as such until next summer's construction season. Other parts of the project, including expansion of the Outpost restaurant atop North Peak, placing snowmaking equipment in the area and doing trail work will continue this summer.

The nation's largest ski and snowboard resort conglomerate and purveyor of the Epic Pass, Vail Resorts continues to work on several other lift installation projects. At Vail Mountain, a new high-speed four-pack is set to run from the base of High Noon Express to the ridge-top Wildwood Restaurant. On the front, Game Creek Bowl enthusiasts will get up quicker with a replacement detachable six-seater on the same line as the old lift.

In neighboring Summit County, Vail-owned Breckenridge will give beginners and ski school-ers more runs to lap out of Peak 8 base with a replacement of Rip's Ride fixed-grip with a high-speed four-pack.

At Vail-owned resorts around Lake Tahoe, skiers and riders who go to Northstar California should expect to see a six-pack replacement of the four-seater Comstock Lift at the busy mid-mountain. And, visitors to Heavenly Mountain should be able to get to the top of North Bowl in almost half the ride time with a new high-speed chair.

However, Park City Mountain visitors and loyalists will have to wait for two replacement chairlifts at a busy juncture near the crossover to the Canyons area, as local citizens convinced the planning board to reevaluate the project. Vail Resorts has said it will appeal.

 

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Summit County Resorts Open Up For Colorado Summer

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Summer has arrived in Colorado's high country, and a quartet of high-altitude resorts in Summit County are cranking up for a bustling summer at four of the Rocky Mountain's busiest mountains.

Typically opening mid-June, standard warm-weather attractions include scenic chairlift or gondola rides, coasters and slides, hiking and mountain biking, disc golf, climbing walls, and music, food and drink. Expect that some labor-intensive activities like ziplining may have hours curtailed or, in the case of Breckenridge and Vail, be shut down.

At Arapahoe Basin, Summit County's only via ferreta has half- and full-day guided tours on the "iron way" -- a series of iron rungs fixed in the rock face -- that begin at 12,000 feet of elevation, and top out at the 13,000-foot summit on West Ridge. Near the base, the Aerial Adventure Park runs ziplines, swings, and balancing acts through old-growth forest.

Down the road at Keystone, tubing lives on into the summer, as crews pile up leftover snow atop Dercum Mountain (11,640). Lanes typically stay open into July, 10 a.m to 2 p.m. You must buy a ride up the gondola to the summit, and pre-pay by the run for tubing. Plenty of other activities at mountain-top Adventure Point.

On the other side of Dillon Reservoir, the force of gravity prevails at Breckenridge in the summertime. The Gold Runner Alpine Coaster pitches down 2,500 feet on elevated tracks, with two 360-degree loops and a top speed of 27 mph. The resort also has three alpine slides that run 2,600 feet down concave tracks -- with manual braking.

And to the west, Copper Mountain's summer starts in the base area. Check out bumper boats on West Lake, and a challenging go-kart track. The Woodward Wrecktangle presents a dozen obstacles to overcome in the Woodward Copper extreme sport complex. All-day summer pass includes Wrecktangle, unlimited rides up the chairlift, and limited shots at other activities.

The cheapest activities at any of the resorts are hiking and mountain biking. Check Forest Service regulations for e-bikes. Most have designated trails.

 

 

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A Flurry Of Lift Construction Set For Colorado This Summer

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Summer visitors to Colorado ski and snowboard mountains will see plenty of construction going on, as seven resorts across the state string new lifts for the upcoming season.

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Summit County Resorts Record A Combined 200 Inches Of March Snow

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March is typically the snowiest month in the state of Colorado, and this year, Summit County ski areas are recording over 200 inches combined.

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Epic Pass Fine-Tunes Access, Pricing For 2022-2023 Season

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A modest price increase, more choice for multi-day passes, and a monthly no-interest payment plan are among the changes as the Epic Pass for the 2022-2023 winter season comes on the early-season market.

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5 Ski Resorts That Has Something for Everyone – Even Non-Skiers

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There’s something to be said about the magical feeling you get when you look outside and everything is coated in fluffy white snow. To the people who live in ski resort towns, it’s just another wintery day, but to those who come from warmer climates, it’s a winter wonderland! 

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13 Of The Best Family Ski Resorts For All Ages And Skill Levels

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Getting kids on skis;as early as possible can be rewarding for a lifetime of skiing. But planning a ski trip — especially with kids in tow — isn’t as easy as just picking up and going. Instead of just “following the snow,” you’ll want to pick a ski mountain that truly caters to kids — one that offers top-notch ski lessons, kid-friendly trails and many off-the-snow activities as well.

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Snow May Not Be Piling Up At Colorado Resorts, But Anxiety Sure Is

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Coronavirus is still a worry, but now ski hill operators must wrestle with too few workers and not enough places to house the ones they’ve hired.

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Colorado Epic Resorts Geared Up For This Season

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A quartet of Colorado resorts in the Epic Pass system is set to show off improvements as the 2021-2022 ski and snowboard season gains momentum.

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First To Open? Wolf Creek In An Upset

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The race to be the first to drop the ropes on the 2021-22 season has a new winner this season, as the "friendly" cloak-and-dagger competition reached new heights.

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Colorado's First-To-Open Trio Ready To Show Off What's New

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The annual race to be the first U.S. ski and snowboard resort to turn on its lifts is on, as the three usual competitors Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Keystone utilize their highest-in-the-nation elevations for both the natural and man-made snow cover necessary to win.

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Three Colorado Front Range Ski Areas Poised To Begin Snowmaking

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The arrival of October signals one thing for Colorado’s most passionate skiers and snowboarders: Three Front Range ski areas that vie annually for the distinction of being first to open for the season could begin snowmaking operations very soon.

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Vail-Owned Resorts In West To Get Major Lift Upgrades

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Having paused lift construction in the 2020-2021 season, Vail Resorts unleashed its financial wherewithal to make it easier to move around a half-dozen of the 19 of its ski and snowboard mountains in the Rockies and the Sierra.

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#racetopopen Colorado 2021-22 Ski Resorts Announce Opening Dates

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The Colorado ski and snowboard season usually gets underway in October with the #racetoopen kicking off between Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Wolf Creek and Keystone.

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Colorado Opens Its Taps For August Brewfests

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The month of August puts Colorado's mountains on display -- their high meadows flowing with chilly creek waters. What better to celebrate the high country with than a few mugs of craft beer. 

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Ride A Lift Up, Mountain Bike Back Down At 7 Colorado Resorts

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When the snow melts and all that’s left of Colorado’s ski resorts are the seemingly endless trails, rushing mountain water, bright green aspen glades and wildflower-covered meadows, what is there to possibly do?

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