MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – The Telluride Ski Resort may not be dressed all in white for its 40th birthday, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a party.
Skiers and snowboarders celebrate the start of the Telluride Ski Area’s 40th season this week, with the 2012-13 ski season officially beginning Thursday, Nov. 22.
Barely 15 inches of snow have blessed the sun- kissed slopes at Telluride thus far this fall, reports the Telluride Ski Resort’s snow safety team. But despite recent warm temperatures putting a damper on snowmaking, the Resort will nevertheless be open and ready for business for its official Thanksgiving Day opening. The Resort hosted its annual Donation Day, a fundraiser for the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club, on Wednesday.
As thermometers in Telluride and Mountain Village tipped the scales at nearly 50 degrees this week, the Telluride Ski and Golf Company’s snowmaking department worked in the colder nighttime hours to crank out as much artificial snow as possible in preparation for opening day. Portions of runs off the Village Express (Lift 4) lift, including Village Bypass and Lower Misty Maiden, are slated to open; the Meadows Magic Carpet lift is also expected to be open. The Meadows (Lift 1) should open Friday or Saturday, as conditions allow. Other lifts and terrain, including the Lifts 4, 5, and 6 “Super Loop” (Upper Boomerang to Lift 5, Lift 5 to Lift 6, and See Forever from the top of Lift 6 back to the Lift 4 area) will open as snow, temperature and other weather-related factors allow.
The Resort is also in the midst of readying the hill for the coming World Cup competitions, December 13-15. Although Mother Nature hasn’t been helpful in blanketing the slopes for the coming snowboardcross and skicross competitions, recent investments in snowmaking infrastructure on the Telluride Ski Area have made a dry autumn less nerve-wracking for event organizers.
TSG Executive Director of Planning and Sustainablity Jeff Proteau (who is no longer the resort’s vice president of Mountain Operations) said that the Ski Area was successful in obtaining grants through the National Ski Areas Association for purchasing five new mobile, high-efficiency snow-guns this year. The new guns, which require less water and energy, yet are able to produce higher yields of manmade snow, have been used in conjunction with the resort’s other newer generation tower-mounted high-efficiency snow-guns throughout the early season, in preparation for both the World Cup event as well as regular terrain openings.
“These are the most efficient snowmaking guns in the industry, and they’re also very flexible, because they can be moved from place to place,” Proteau said of the ski resort’s newest machinery designed to combat less-than-optimal winter weather.
The Resort has also moved closer to more significant upgrades to its mountain-wide snowmaking system this year, as the company completed the first phase of a significant snowmaking expansion project with the installation of a new water-intake structure on the San Miguel River in Telluride, near the Oak Street (Lift 8) chairlift.
“It doesn’t seem like much, but that will be the main point of diversion to ultimately increase our capacity for snowmaking,” Proteau said of the new intake structure along Telluride’s river trail.
Proteau reports that TSG’s lift maintenance department has also made upgrades to some of the ski area’s older chairlifts, specifically the Coonskin (Lift 7) and Oak Street (Lift 8) lifts, which should improve their operations.
Also new this year will be two heated yurts at the top of the Sunshine Express (Lift 10) lift, designed to be warming hut-style shelters. A water line for a future restaurant was also installed in that area, over the summer, and upgrades were made to the restrooms.
Other resort improvements new this year include the construction of more support buildings to service the Bon Vivant restaurant at the top of the Polar Queen Express (Lift 5), as well as a remodeled kitchen at the TSG-owned Tomboy Tavern restaurant in the Mountain Village base area.