First Colorado ski area of the season set to open after a 14-inch snow dump

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CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — More snow is on the way in Colorado’s high country after the first significant snowfall of the season dropped several inches in some spots.

Wolf Creek Ski Area announced Wednesday afternoon it received 14 inches of new snow Tuesday night. The powder is enough for them to open one lift beginning Saturday, Oct. 16. It is scheduled to be the first ski area in Colorado to open this season.

“When the first ski area opens in Colorado, Colorado wins. We just want all the mountains to open up and everyone on the chair lift skiing and snowboarding and having fun,” Loveland Ski Area’s Dustin Schaefer told NewsNation affiliate KDVR.

While Wolf Creek was the first to open in 2020 and is expected to be the first to open in 2021, Loveland is usually among the contenders in the race toward the first chair.

“It takes about two weeks of strong snowmaking. If Mother Nature helps out, sometimes we can open a little faster,” Schaefer said.

Mother Nature dumped 7 inches on Loveland Ski Area Tuesday night. It also has snow guns running overnight to add to the totals. Several more inches are forecast for Thursday.

According to Schaefer, Loveland is hoping to announce its opening date in a week or two.

No resorts besides Wolf Creek have announced opening dates yet. However, Silverton Mountain says it also saw enough snowfall Tuesday night for ski patrol to hit the slopes on Wednesday.

Silverton described the conditions, saying, “the skiing was so good it’s hard to believe” considering it is only Oct. 13. A spokesperson added that the weather has been colder than normal in the area.

“It’s always exciting. I always get my skis out, get them waxed and ready and I’m just counting down the days that I could be on that first lift,” Schaefer said.

While snow is a welcome sight for skiers and snowboarders, it can be a headache for drivers. Between crashes and safety closures, the Colorado Department of Transportation closed westbound Interstate 70 at either Georgetown or Loveland Pass for nearly seven hours Tuesday night.

“We had our usual contingent of 32 plows out last night. That’s what we have. That’s what we had a year ago. That’s what we had last night,” CDOT spokesperson Tamara Rollison said.

According to CDOT, vaccine mandates are not causing staffing issues heading into the winter storm season. The agency says it is ready to deploy all of its approximately 875 plows statewide if the forecast calls for it.

“We have the drivers, we have the equipment and we also have the materials to keep the roads as safe as possible,” Rollison said.

Traction laws are in effect on the I-70 mountain corridor for all vehicles.

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