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Editor’s update: Arapahoe Basin appears poised to win the Colorado “race” to open first after natural snow fell overnight Thursday into Friday with a lot more in the forecast for this weekend. A-Basin will open on Sunday, Oct. 29.
There, I’ve said, and not just because Ski Ward, a Massachusetts ski area you’ve never heard of — using a snowmaking system that can produce something resembling snow at temps as high as 76 Fahrenheit — became the first to open in the United States on Sunday. I’m saying it because the annual race, even here in Colorado, is just stupid.
Open when conditions warrant without wasting water (a fair percentage of manmade snow, which requires a substantial amount of electricity, winds up evaporating before it melts into streams and rivers stressed by climate change). I’ll be much more psyched when a foot or more of Mother Nature’s flakes falls this weekend in Colorado than when Arapahoe Basin or Loveland “wins” the now statewide race to open first.
And I’m far more psyched for the endangered Colorado River when snowpack lasts well into June, or even continues to grow during wet, gross spring weather, because it means a far shorter fire season and far healthier rivers and streams.
The WROD (White Ribbon of Death) is the most overrated thing in skiing, and while I will mark Vail’s opening in just over two weeks on Friday, Nov. 10, and Beaver Creek’s first day on Wednesday, Nov. 22, I probably won’t be out there dodging dumbasses on the WROD. Early season natural snow is good for marketing, booking season-long hotel reservations and overall stoke, but it’s mostly great for our wetlands and streams.
Speaking of, while it’s been a typically dry and crispy October so far, things are about to change on Saturday:
“It took a long time for the forecasts to align, and finally, we have alignment and very good news – a narrow band of intense snow should set up over our central and northern mountains on Saturday into Sunday with snow totals that could push into the double digits,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Wednesday. “This snowfall, along with a few days of cold temperatures, could result in lift-serviced turns in early November.”
Hopefully, the weather pattern turns and we have a season similar to 2022-23’s above-average snowfall totals. Beyond lift-served turns, which are nice, I’ll be far more psyched when I can earn leg-powered turns in the woods.