After a week of damaging winds, Friday morning, Nov. 18, dawned clear, warm and still. Although many hundreds of trees were lost during the week’s microburst, the trails were cleaned and ready for skiing, and so were the snow sports enthusiasts who lined up, raring to go, at 9 a.m.
For the third year in a row, Eliot Lee of Rollinsville claimed the first chair after waiting in the parking lot since 7 a.m. It is becoming a point of pride for him. He showed up in his orange boots, his lime green helmet and his mostly purple rainbow jacket. Glenn Miller, in more gentle colors, has also been in line for the first chair for three years. He said he had walked in circles in the parking lot since 6 a.m.
Lee said riding the first civilian chair is like setting the season in motion, which usually involves at least 15 days at Eldora and about 70 at other areas. The line grew, and when the lift operators let Ski Patrol Director Mike Smith and Eldora Mountain Manager Jim Spenst onto a chair a cheer went up.
The resort opened with eight trails and four lifts scheduled to operate. A cold front that moved into the Front Range mountains on Tuesday, Nov. 15, brought new snow to the area and allowed for snowmaking operations to run in full-force.
Eldora opened with a 23-inch base of machine-made and packed-powder snow. Hornblower/ International, Jolly Jug / Sunset and Windmill trails on Challenge Mountain were also open. Other trails opening on Little Hawk Mountain include Upper and Lower Bunnyfair and Sun Kid. Lifts will open at 9 a.m. and remain open until 4 p.m. More terrain will open as soon as weather permits.
Eldora offers lessons, equipment rentals and food and beverage for opening and throughout the season. Early Season lift ticket prices are $53 Adult Full-day; $25 Junior Full-day, ages 6-15; $37 Senior, ages 65-74; $10 for five years and under and 75 years and older.
A flock of red-jacketed snow sports instructors gathered at the bottom of Cannonball lift, ready for a safety clinic led by Tim Kenney. Lift ticket checker Jesse Durdge said this is his first season at Eldora and he is happy to be there. “It is so satisfying, like coming out of hibernation.”
As Eliot Lee headed to his chair, he looked around at the blue sky and said, “This is an epic start to the season. There is nothing like the smell of corduroy to get us going.”
Lift Foreman Hayden Krizman, in his second season, said the opening was going really well. “You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
At the Eldora Nordic Center, Nancy Colton organized the rental equipment, saying that although there was probably enough snow to open a few trails, there were still many downed trees.
“We have a really good start with the base, but there are so many blow downs and we have to clear those. We are shooting to open on Friday.”