Time to hit the slopes

Colorado’s cold months are in full swing, and snow storms that swept the Rocky Mountains region in early November have blessed ski and snowboard buffs with the state’s trademark early mountain resort openings.

Nearly all of the big-time Colorado resorts have opened their slopes to the public, and if you’re a local to the Estes Valley area – Eldora, Winter Park, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin resorts have all begun building their trail bases for the long season ahead.

I’ve had the chance to get out to Winter Park and Eldora in recent weeks and, to no surprise, took part in the mountain mayhem that ignites on opening weekends. Long lines, sole slopes and everyone itching to get their first shred of the year in.

Conditions like these brew the perfect storm for what is referred to as “the white ribbon of death.” W.R.O.D is a staple of early-season riding, with its name stemming from the chaos that creates it. A single open slope, packed with little but artificial snow, softened by the beating sun and stripped all but bare by stockpiles of raving skiers and snowboarders.

These elements combined make for slopes being tracked out by lunchtime and can cause the trail to grow old after only a handful of runs. Nonetheless, the chance to get out early is always worth taking, and with off-piste and black diamond riding still a slew of snow storms away, I, for one, will take whatever I can get.

My advice for those rearing to ride is to get to the resort early and get on the mountain as soon as possible because, as mentioned – lines fill up quick, and the few slopes open get run down in no time. Keep your head on a swivel as you navigate through hoards of shred fanatics and watch sudden carving as trail conditions reduce to ice and the minimal snow base strips away from all the traffic.

In close proximity to the Estes Valley, Winter Park and Arapahoe Basin seem to have the best conditions as of Thursday, Nov. 17. Both resorts have five trails open ranging from green to blue difficulty – layered with near 20 inches bases.

Copper resort conditions as snow fall sets in.(Ryan Singer/Contributing Photographer)

Views from a chair lift at Winter Park.(Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)



For those of you shooting for an early-season weekend mountain trip, Vail looks to hold the most promise. The primo resort has 21 trails open ranging from green to blue difficulty with a 25-inch base built up. Considering Vail boasts 267 trails, a mere fraction of those being open may seem a bit lackluster, but with Keystone being the next down with ten rideable trails – it seems to be the best early-season option.

Despite the limited trails and shoddy conditions, hitting the slopes is hitting the slopes – it’s never a bad idea and always shapes up to be worthwhile. Whether you’ve got skies or a snowboard beneath your feet, get out and get some runs in so you can shake the rust before the big powder rolls through and the heavy riding kicks in.

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About Pep Dekekr

Pep loves Estes Park, he lives here with his family and hopes to bring people to Estes Park and Estes Park to the people. Along with his wife Paige, they own EstesPark.com.

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