Spring skiing: a season to itself

Photo: Casey Day, Skier: Tamara Jacobi, Location: Powderhorn

Tamara Jacobi enjoying a sunny day and untracked snow at Powderhorn Mountain Resort. Skiers can expect spring-like conditions at most Colorado resorts. Photo: Casey Day

This week’s spring-like weather and blue skies across much of Colorado is a subtle reminder to skiers and snowboarders all good things must end.

Not yet, of course, with two months still remaining in the 2015/2016 ski season, but take a hint from the state’s ski resorts and start gearing up for spring.

Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry trade group representing 21 Colorado resorts, recently issued a schedule of spring-related events at member resorts and there are plenty of activities for everyone.

You can read the release here, but suffice it to say resorts through February and March are ready to launch you and your buddies into spring.

Most resorts have announced closing dates in mid-April, although that’s subject to change depending on snow condition. Loveland is holding out until early May while A-Basin adds another month to that, with a planned closing in early June.

But the weather. Ahh, yes, recent record-breaking temperatures (Denver 73, Grand Junction 62, even mountaintop highs in the 40s) don’t portend a long season ahead.

As weather forecast Nick Barlow (of Barlometer.com) recently said, “There is good agreement this evening that our recent spell of unseasonable warmth and sunshine has indeed become a problem.”

A storm swept across the northern part of the state Wednesday and dropped a scattering of snow but the big punch was felt in Wyoming. Barlow reported high winds shut down all of the lifts at Jackson Hole.

red-dust-in-snow

Wind-blown dust in the San Juan Mountains from this week’s storm. Courtesy Jerry Roberts

So enjoy what snow we get in the next few weeks and hope for more as the sun climbs higher. As Barlow notes, “There’s nothing we can do about it anyway, so don’t worry about it.”

Jerry Roberts today posted some fascinating photos of a dust-on-snow event that occurred this week in the San Juan Mountains. Wind gusts peaked at 119 miles per hour, according to several sources.

As was noted earlier, it’s been a very good year for the ski industry in terms of visitor days. Last month, Colorado Ski Country announced total skier visits at its 21 member resorts were up 10 percent during the first period of the 2015/16 ski season (through December 31) compared to the same period last year.

This year’s first period skier visits also topped the first-period five-year average by 13 percent, making it the third-consecutive year early season visitation has exceeded the five-year average.

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