PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo. — The race to open the Colorado ski season has been neck and neck between the two snowmaking powers Arapahoe Basin and Loveland ski area. Both resorts have said they could open in late October.
But it was Wolf Creek ski area in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado that made the first announcement. After it was blasted by two-feet of snow on Sunday and Monday, the owner, Davey Pitcher, said lifts will start Wednesday morning and the resort will open about 600 acres to skiers.
“We’re kind of the dark horse, and we get these fluky storms every once in a while,” Pitcher said.
He said it’s not about being the first to open but more about just giving people a way to relieve the stresses of 2020.
“Obviously big storm cycles and powder all the time is coveted, but there’s a lot more to skiing than meets the eye,” Pitcher said.
He said his resort is prepared to take on the challenges of any COVID-19 regulations. He said more than 4,000 skiers responded to a survey in which more than 98% said they would be willing to comply with any mandates issued by health officials.
The Wolf Creek COVID-19 procedure plan for this season includes the usual compliance with all the normal mask-wearing and social distancing procedures familiar to other public venues, but Pitcher said they have also spent a lot of time and money to help ensure the safety of guests when it comes to the pandemic.
"For example, we have put ionizing machines in all of our forced air heaters, Pitcher said. "And we now have these chlorine fogging machines that help disinfect and clean the bathrooms."
He said the fogging machines also make cleaning the bathrooms quicker which is important because they will be cleaning every bathroom once per hour.
Another factor that Wolf Creek will be contending against during the 2020-21 ski season is a La Nina weather pattern which traditionally favors areas in northern Colorado.
Pitcher said this recent southern storm track was a pleasant surprise, and it gives him hope for the rest of this brand-new Colorado ski season.
“We’ll be able to hang on until the next storm, which who knows when it’s going to arrive, but we have faith that winter will bring more snow,” Pitcher said.
Wolf Creek plans to open with only lifts running and no other amenities this week except the bathrooms. Then it will close on Monday and Tuesday so staff can review COVID-19 procedures. Pitcher said that if all goes right the ski area will reopen Nov. 4 and stay open for the rest of the season.
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