My name is Scott. I’m 43 years old. And I believe in Santa Claus.
No, not some jolly bearded guy from the North Pole with flying reindeer and an uncanny ability to squeeze down chimneys despite his girth.
But how else can I explain the Christmas Miracle storm that hit Colorado? I am writing this on Dec. 28 after skiing six days in a row, from the second the flakes started falling on Dec. 21 through yesterday’s hiking to find leftovers at Wolf Creek Ski Area. (And you didn’t hear it from me but Step Bowl still has plenty of fresh lines for those willing to earn their turns….)
It wasn’t just that it finally snowed after a mostly dry December, but the timing of the snow. Holiday travelers and powder-starved locals alike were facing the prospect of very limited Christmas season skiing. Snow machines can only do so much and most of my favorite terrain was more rocks and grass than winter wonderland.
Then the Miracle. The ridge of high pressure that had been deflecting storms over the Rockies – I call it “Heartbreak Ridge” – dissipated. High in the atmosphere above Colorado, moisture-laden clouds moved in, dropping ice crystals. These crystals bonded with others in the frigid air forming flakes heavy enough to fall to the ground.
The first storm came on Dec. 21-22, bringing 5-10 inches to many areas. Then the skies barely had time to clear before another big storm dropped impressive totals on Dec. 23, including another foot or more at northern areas like Steamboat. And finally, on Christmas Eve through Christmas Day, yet another storm brought up to a 18 inches to northern resorts like Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, while all areas saw at least some snow.
It all made for a very merry Christmas for skiers and snowboarders. And ropes began dropping on terrain all over ski country. Here’s a rundown of some of the major terrain openings:
But as important as terrain openings are, the snow boosted the morale all over ski country. Instagram accounts that were bemoaning the lack of snow were now full of powder plunges and face shots. That palpable feeling of excitement on the lifts and in ski town bars was back.
So thank you, Santa, for saving Christmas. Happy New Year and cheers to a snowy 2018.