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It wasn’t much of a publicized race, as it’s been in past seasons, but Wolf Creek edged out Arapahoe Basin by a day to win the title of first ski resort to start spinning lifts for the 2021-’22 ski season, opening on a sunny Saturday in mid-October.
Enjoying the spoils of an early-season storm that dropped over a foot of snow on the slopes, Wolf Creek opened for weekends with several lifts offering a good variety of terrain. (Though snow conditions determines what stays open for upcoming weekend. Check the grooming report for updates.)
A Basin followed suit the next day, spinning a single lift serving one intermediate run on Sunday, Oct. 17. Still, plenty of people showed up.
Doesn’t sound fun? Well, you don’t go skiing on opening day for the skiing. You go because you’re jonesing for turns, eager to slope-test new equipment, to celebrate the start of a more normal (well, not-quite-as-pandemic) season, or just to say you went. And because it’s A Basin, arguably home to one of the best down-home vibes and a rocking beach parking-lot scene.
According to the resort, a few hundred people came out to ride the only operating lift, the Black Mountain Express quad, and schuss down High Noon, the only open run, a groomed intermediate. There were skiers in costume, grills smoking in the parking lot, and people once again taking advantage of the ski area’s Mug Club, which earns you discounted drinks at the 6th Alley Bar & Grill and the mug to take home at the end of the season.
And man, are people ready to celebrate. There are very few Covid-related guidelines in place at A Basin, the main one is an advance-purchase requirement for lift tickets. Lift ticket sales will also be limited to ensure a positive guest experience, said ski area spokesperson Katherine Fuller. Masks are not required indoors, though are recommended for unvaccinated skiers. Reservations are not required for day skiers or Ikon Pass holders, like they were last season. Pending snow conditions, A Basin plans to stay open seven days/week.
At Wolf Creek, masks are required indoors for everyone, there will be limited indoor seating, and people wanting to ride the lift with only their own party (or by themselves) may ask to do so.
All eyes now turn to Loveland Ski Area and Keystone Resort, as we expect those opening day announcements to come through any day now. Watch this space for more opening day news to fuel the early-season stoke.