Where to Ski This Weekend

Get your snow pants ready because Colorado is looking at 12 inches in 10 days.

Maybe.

“But there is a big caveat to this forecast,” OpenSnow forecaster Joel Gratz wrote. “The forecast is dependent on the exact track of the pieces of energy that will agitate the atmosphere, cause lift, and create snow. If these pieces of energy track further north, few mountains get snow. If these pieces of energy track south, all mountains get snow.”

Because the storm is part of a warmer weather pattern, Gratz favored the higher elevation areas like Eldora, Winter Park, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper for the best snow starting Thursday.Although Gratz is not confident on snow totals, he’s happy to see a week of 1 to 2 inches falling each day.

“Give me a few days of a few inches over one day of 12 inches … the base is soft, the skiing is good, and the crowds are smaller,” he wrote.

All-in-all, good news for the I-70 corridor and northwest Colorado. Maybe save Monarch and Wolf Creek for another weekend.

Keep an eye on Gratz’s forecast for the latest snow predictions.

Telluride Joins the Epic Pass

The ski pass war is on, and the industry’s two major competitors are pulling out the big guns.

Just four days after Alterra released its 23-mountain Ikon Pass, Vail Resorts jabbed back, announcing that Telluride Ski Resort had joined the Epic Pass.

“Telluride is on the bucket list of skiers and snowboarders around the world and we’re delighted to offer this iconic mountain resort as part of the Epic Pass experience,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts.

Epic Pass holders will receive seven days with no blackout dates at Telluride. After the seven days, pass holders can get 50 percent off tickets at Telluride. Alterra has yet to announce the cost and access options for the Ikon Pass, though with access to resorts like Steamboat, Aspen, Jackson Hole, Alta and Mammoth, it’ll be hard to pass up.

If reports from The Denver Post are true, Vail Resorts and Alterra also might be playing tug-of-war for an alliance with Idaho’s Sun Valley.

Whichever giant wins this battle, skiers and snowboarders are in for the ultimate winter sports season next year.

Avalanche Activity Claims First Colorado Victim

In more sullen news, Colorado’s winter backcountry claimed its first victim last week after an avalanche released the entire season’s snowpack down a gully on Red Mountain Pass in southern Colorado.

Abel Palmer’s death is the seventh fatality in the winter backcountry in the United States; three of the victims were skiers and four were snowmobilers.Palmer and his skiing partner followed avalanche safety protocol during their day on Sam’s Trees on Jan. 21. They had looked up the avalanche danger that day, noted the recent avalanche activity after the Jan. 10 and 11 storm and decided to avoid a steep gully next to their proposed line, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center accident report released Monday said.

Even with their plan, they unintentionally ended up in the terrain trap, triggering two avalanches. The second avalanche was up to 22 inches deep and 240 feet across, partially burying both skiers in the gully.

Palmer’s partner was able to dig himself and Palmer out of the snow. Palmer, who was buried under 3 feet of snow, was not breathing and unresponsive when he was unearthed.

“There can be many reasons for this: bad visibility, the lure of powder, losing orientation on the slope…whatever the reason, it is not an uncommon experience for backcountry travelers,” the report said about how the skiers made it into the gully.

Reviewing the accident photos, Palmer’s ski partner told forecasters that he was surprised at how far off they veered off of their planned route.

Sobering words, reminding the most experienced backcountry travelers of the consequences of one miscalculated turn.

Photo of the Week

We want your snow photos. Face shots, family portraits, McTwists 540s on a halfpipe, even your best wipeouts.

Email your photos to liz.forster@gazette.com or direct message them on Instagram to @co_gazette for a chance to be featured.

Load comments