Even as the calendar still says autumn, Wolf Creek Ski Area is celebrating the arrival of winter.
At 8:30 a.m. Saturday, 30 percent of the mountain will open to skiers, offering a limited variety of terrain near the Treasure, Bonanza and Nova lifts. Adult lift tickets will cost just $31, while seniors and children may ski for $18 a day. Lifts will remain open until 4 p.m. each day, and ski and snowboard rentals will be half price through opening weekend.
Under early-season conditions, the ski school will offer standard lessons and the lodge will serve lunch.
While this season’s high-country snow seems early, it’s actually right on time. Each year, the ski area typically opens at least a portion of its skiable terrain by early November, and often, only a single run provides suitable early-season snow.
Though deciding when to open is seldom easy, it helps to have a good heavy snowfall and a forecast that suggests more is on the way. This week, Wolf Creek has enjoyed both.
By press time yesterday, the ski area received 10 inches of new snow in the previous 24 hours, with a season total of 20 inches, thus far. At the same time, Wolf Creek reported a 14-inch base at both mid-mountain and the summit.
Meanwhile, a winter storm warning remained in effect until late last night, which could have added another four to eight inches to accumulation totals.
Even as valley weather has improved today, the upcoming high-country forecast calls for continued cold temperatures and another chance of snow from Sunday morning through Veterans Day on Tuesday. Under mostly- to partly-cloudy skies, daytime highs will only reach the mid-20s to low 30s, while lows will drop to the teens and low 20s. The probability of precipitation will be between 10 and 20 percent.
According to local weather guru Toby Karlquist, the next two days will bring mostly sunny skies to the Pagosa Lakes area, with daytime highs in the mid-50s, as early-morning lows dip to the upper teens.
Clouds should be on the increase Sunday, with a high temperature near 50. Sunday night will offer a slight chance of snow under mostly cloudy skies, as the low falls into the low 20s.
Skies should clear again on Monday and Tuesday, with highs in the low 50s and lows in the mid-20s.
Regardless of what the calendar says, it’s probably safe to assume we’ve entered the transitional period between the beauty of autumn and the bitter cold of winter. At least from now to the end of the month, we could see almost any kind of weather.
Better wax the boards.