Whiteout is The Gazette’s weekly column on all things skiing, snowboarding and snow in Colorado’s high country. Each week, we’ll break down snow totals, storm and avalanche forecasts, special events in the mountains and ski industry news.
Aspen Mountain will open Nov. 17 — five days ahead of schedule next Saturday, Nov. 17after more than 20 inches of snow from recent storms. And there’s more of that on the way.
“With a promising winter forecast, the Snowmass Base Village Grand Opening approaching, and a new and improved Aspen Snowmass App to make tracking your bowl laps and vertical feet easier than ever — it’s stacking up to be our best season yet!” the ski resort said in a news release.
Aspen and most of the Interstate 70 corridor could see another 1 to 2 inches Sunday through Monday, with mountains east of the Continental Divide looking at up to 8 inches, said OpenSnow forecaster Joel Gratz. Highest snow totals will likely be at Eldora.
Mountains across Colorado have enjoyed plenty of early season snow. As of Friday morning, the snowpack statewide was 166 percent of its median. That’s a huge improvement over last year, when part of the state had historically low snowpack levels.
The bounty of snow and low temperatures conducive for snowmaking enabled Breckenridge and Keystone to open Wednesday — two days ahead of schedule. It was the first time in 10 years the Vail Resorts-owned mountains had enough snow to open early.
Eldora Mountain also opened Wednesday, nine days ahead of schedule, the earliest the resort west of Boulder has opened in more than two decades.
Loveland, Arapahoe Basin and Wolf Creek have been open since mid-October.
For those looking to head into the backcountry, beware of wind-drifted snow, especially on north, northeast and east-facing slopes. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported slides on those target slopes throughout the central part of the state, including Loveland, Hoosier, Cameron, Berthoud and Independence passes.
“The large early-November storms that dropped 20 to 40 inches of snow, with strong winds, on the northern mountains was a game changer,” CAIC wrote in its statewide avalanche report Friday. “Now the consequences of getting caught in an avalanche is elevated and getting fully buried if caught is a strong possibility. Early-season conditions and small avalanches are over, with large midwinterlike avalanches now on the menu.”
Safest conditions are on southerly slopes and in the southern mountains.
Be sure to check CAIC’s avalanche and weather forecasts at https://avalanche.state.co.us/ before heading into the backcountry.
Twitter: @lizmforster Phone: 636-0193