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Why Ski Early Season?


By Kristen Lummis,

It was a gorgeous Saturday in October, with stunningly clear, deep blue Colorado sky, mountain temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s and not a breath of wind. It was a perfect day for mountain biking or hiking, raking leaves and carving pumpkins or walking the dog.

But we didnt do any of those things. We went skiing. (Sorry, dog.)

Because You Can!

When I tell friends that we spent last Saturday at Arapahoe Basin, their reaction is always the same.

No way! theyll exclaim, inevitably adding, Im so jealous.

Living on the Western Slope, we dont have many options for October or early November skiing. Wolf Creek often opens early for weekends only. But from our house, even Wolf Creek is a long drive.

Front Range skiers have it made. With first in the nation rivals Loveland and A Basin less than an hour away, the question really isnt why ski early season, but why not ski early season?

And thats my first reason to ski early season: because you can.

Arent you lucky?

Here are some more reasons.

Jumpstart your season – Theres a big difference in attitude between a ski day in October and a ski day in mid-Winter.

October skiing is bonus time. Fall skiing is not about bragging rights for deep pow, or logging lots of vert. Instead its about starting your season off early, in a totally relaxed frame of mind. On Saturday, everyone at Arapahoe Basin was in a party mood. The weather helped: it was spring skiing in October, with plenty of tailgate barbeques and aprs festivities. Some people were wearing costumes and everyone was sporting a huge smile.

Test your gear – If youve got new boots, a new board or new skis, early season is a terrific time to break them in.

This season, everyone in my family has new boots, except me. With new boots, come new hot spots. Saturday was a perfect day to ski a run, stop and adjust. Get comfortable and ski again. We didnt care if we had to wait for someone. We were just psyched to be back on snow.

New gear or not, skiing in October means you can get your legs back under you and work the kinks out with no pressure. You can also ski your old boards and decide whether or not you actually, just might, need new gear.

Or, maybe just a tune.

Spoil your kids (and yourself) – It was our sons idea to ski on Saturday. Left to our own, serious, drudgery-loving devices, my husband and I would have cleaned the garage or something equally mundane. But as a ski parent, how can you resist when your child looks you in the eye and says, I want to go skiing.

You can go skiing, so why not indulge? Spoil them. Take a day off chores. Click into the skis.

And, at the same time, spoil yourself.

When You Go

Arapahoe Basin opened on October 13, and began skiing top-to-bottom on October 25th. According to some of the locals we met, this was one of the best early openings in years. It sure felt that way to us.

From the top, we skied Lenawee Face to Dercums Gulch and then had our choice of heading back to the Lenawee lift or skiing to the bottom on High Noon or Ramrod. These runs are all intermediate and while beginner Pika Place is open, there wasnt an easy way back to the bottom. The mid-mountain Black Mountain Lodge is open and the sundeck was packed.

As for the snow, its groomed manmade, but it was surprisingly soft and was skiing really well on a 18 inch base. With new snow this week, it will be skiing even better come the 1sst of November.

If youre in the market for lessons, A Basin has a tremendous early season lesson program running until November 23rd. Private lessons are steeply discounted, with a one-hour private for $90 (regularly $185), a half-day private for $170 (regularly $290) and a full-day private for $290 (regularly $460). Up to four people of the same ability can take a private together for an additional $25 per person. Interested? Phone reservations are required at 888-272-7246.

Other Colorado resorts with pre-Thanksgiving openings are Loveland, which opened on October 17th; Copper Mountain (opening November 1st); Wolf Creek (November 8th); Winter Park (November 13th) and Eldora (November 22nd).

After that, its pretty much weekly openings through mid-December for the rest of the state.

Arent we lucky?