Wolf Creek Ski Area near Pagosa Springs in Southwest Colorado announced it will open this weekend, making it the first in Colorado to open for the 2021-22 ski season.
The ski area reported receiving 14 inches of new snow this week, which will allow it to open the Nova and Lynx lifts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, said owner Davey Pitcher.
“We got a little snow. We’re going to pull it together, but it’s pretty thin,” Pitcher said Thursday. “It’s important to stress that it’s very early season conditions, and that it’s about the experience.”
He said it is a fun time of year to ski, because the aspen leaves are still in their fall colors.
Pitcher wasn’t aware his mountain was the first to announce its opening in Colorado.
“There’s snow to play around on, and the people who have been uphill skiing and coming down all have a grin on their face,” he said. “So I think the early season experience is worth taking a stab at opening up.”
Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade group for the state’s ski areas, confirmed Wolf Creek is the first to announce its opening, unless another ski area pulls off a major surprise.
Pitcher said several factors are at play for opening early, including that skiers help tramp down the base layer, and the opening gets people back to work.
“We have a very loyal return staff, and they’re ready to start working,” Pitcher said. “We’ll keep them busy. We do a lot of handwork with bringing snow out of the woods and patching thin spots.”
Lift tickets will cost $60 this weekend, and $40 for the beginner lift.
The restaurant and bar will be open, and the upper lodge will have a limited menu. Ski rentals and ski lessons will be available, Pitcher said. Face coverings are required for all indoor public settings.
Pitcher said he expects Wolf Creek Ski Area will remain open during weekends. It will depend on Mother Nature for when the ski area can open seven days a week, he said. The ski area has limited snowmaking capacity.
“We’re going to do our darndest to stay open with the upper mountain for the rest of the season,” he said.
Opening day brings an “interesting combination” of people, he said. Some are experienced skiers who know what “early conditions” mean, he said. It also brings beginners, because they know it won’t be crowded and they can have more room to learn. It also draws snowboarders, who tend to be less critical of early conditions, because boards float on the snow better than skis, he said.
“We’re also very careful to talk to all the customers, do skier education prior to them deciding if they’re going to buy a ticket,” Pitcher said. “We make sure we don’t have somebody that’s got a brand-new pair of $1,200 skis on.”