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Since the first, and so far only, winter storm passed through Pagosa Country two weeks ago, leaving 20 inches on the slopes at Wolf Creek Ski Area, the skies have been mostly blue, and the weather, well, it’s been relatively warm in the afternoons — highs reaching the 50s, the nighttime lows in the teens to low 20s.
But people have not been fooled by this weather. It’s mid-November and for many in Pagosa, and many visitors to Pagosa, that means one thing — ski and snowboard time.
Wolf Creek Ski Area opened last Wednesday with 430 skiers, and ski area vice president Rosanne Haidorfer-Pitcher said that each day of the weekend tallied more than 800 people.
Now, the first major event in the ski season is here. Thanksgiving.
“We are excited about Thanksgiving,” Haidorfer-Pitcher said. With such warm temperatures, with no natural fresh snow, Haidorfer-Pitcher said that people were not sure how the week would turn out. On Monday, though, by 11 a.m., over 500 skiers were on the slopes.
“We’re starting out strong. People have been calling and are interested in coming,” she said, adding, “The skiing is good, it’s great for early season. Just watch out for obstacles.”
As of press time, the Alberta Lift is the only lift not running at Wolf Creek; even the Raven Lift is open. All beginner runs are open and, Haidorfer-Pitcher said, “skiing really well.” Tranquility, she added, is very popular as well as Treasure and Treasure Falls.
“There is a large variety of terrain open. It’s fun to get your ski legs out there,” she said.
However, Haidorfer-Pitcer said she and her colleagues have become greedy. Receiving the initial 20 inches at Wolf Creek, they are eager for more snow.
Unfortunately, according to the National Weather Service forecast for the next week, no snow accumulation is expected. Highs are expected to stay in the 50s throughout the week, with lows continuing to be in the 20s.
In lieu of precipitation, Wolf Creek has been making snow, though a small amount.
“We’re making snow in the beginner area,” said Haidorfer-Pitcher. She then explained that, since Wolf Creek doesn’t have a large number of water rights and that it normally receives so much snow, the snow-making system is cumbersome.
“Some years we don’t have to use it or use it only for cosmetic fixes, like muddy tracks down the run,” she said. The system requires moving around hoses and power. “We have enough to make sure Nova Lift is in good order,” Haidorfer Pitcher said of the machine-made snow. Right now, though, until more precipitation comes, large piles of snow are being made and pushed to the areas in most need of patching.
“We’re hoping that mother nature will kick in,” she said.
Until then, lift ticket prices will remain at the local appreciation rate of $35 for all skiers and snowboarders.