Colorado's Wolf Creek shocked the snow industry with the announcement that the resort will be opening October 8, 2011 -- i.e. tomorrow -- for the weekend.
A very active-yet-friendly competition to be the first to open takes place among a handful of resorts every season. The usual suspects -- Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Aspen/Snowmass in Colorado and Sunday River, Maine -- have all been eagerly dropping news of snowmaking and impending storms since late September. Wolf Creek beat them all by a landslide.
Long before most of the ski swaps have happened and before even the other "early openers" have cranked up their bull-wheels, Wolf Creek will fire up their with specially-priced tickets to honor the three feet of fresh that's fallen this week: $33 for three lifts. Nova, Bonanza and Treasure will be operating 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with varied terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. The opening will include Alberta Face and Treasure Falls and regular services such as ski school, rentals, the Boarderdome and the Upper Lodge will be operational, also.
In 2008, Loveland opened on October 7 but there is no question that October 8 is a very early opening day, even in Colorado. Wolf Creek has long had a reputation as a premier "early winter" spot where you can shred legit pow by Thanksgiving, but it's not even "Canadian Thanksgiving" yet! This October 8 opening trumps the previous record for Wolf Creek in 2007, when the resort opened October 26. This is the first time Wolf Creek has won the battle of the resort openings.
Colorado Ski Country USA's Craig Bannister was proud to point out that 36 inches is a great opening storm: "[Wolf Creek] is just nestled away, a little outside of Pagosa Springs, and it's just a neat little spot for skiers and boarders to ride at," he told ESPN.com. "It's kind of tucked away... To open this early with these kind of storms is just great. We had a great year last year with La Niña and this season is supposed to be a another La Niña. If it's anything to go by with last season, this one should be very, very good as well."
Wolf Creek is high, with a base elevation of 10,300 feet and the summit at 11,904 feet. The resort receives an average of 465 inches of snow per season (almost 39 feet!), has 1600 acres of skiable terrain, and is located 80 miles east of Durango, Colo. in the deep southwest of the state's San Juans.
As of now, the resort only has plans to be open this weekend. Monday it will shut, and re-opening will be weather dependent. A quick look at Wolf Creek's webcam shows a full blanket of snow and you can see the workers getting the chairs on and moving -- definitely enough snow to have some fun. Get some!