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Skiing as fresh snow falls at Ski Santa Fe was wonderful

January 6, 2019

It’s been quite a few years since we’ve enjoyed a storm cycle like the one we just had — three waves of daylong snowfall and below-freezing temperatures guaranteed to keep the snow fresh and light. From the Colorado border southward to the Sacramento Mountains and to the eastern plains, the state benefitted from substantial moisture. Most favored of the ski areas was Pajarito, which picked up 36 inches.

I was up at Ski Santa Fe with my son, Travis, on New Year’s Eve, when the last round arrived early and flakes began to fly by 10 a.m.

By midafternoon, everything had softened and gone quiet, just the low hiss of super-cold miniature flakes blowing up from one’s skis as we dropped into Cornice for several knee-deep runs. From side to side, in the woods and even on the edges of groomers, all was draped in a new blanket of white, bringing smiles to frozen faces.

Colorado — other than Wolf Creek — did not enjoy the same benefits from the storms, but conditions are still quite good.

Wolf Creek, Crested Butte

Wolf Creek presents free races for skiers and snowboarders in a dual format on parallel slalom courses.

The ski area also holds fun races on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21; Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3; President’s Day, Feb. 18; Mardi Gras, March 5; Spring Fling, March 9; and St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

Also on tap is the Wolf Creek Challenge Series, with a GS race on Jan. 13, and a Super G on March 6.

Wolf Creek also holds Local Appreciation Days, with all comers considered local those days. Adult lift tickets will cost $33 and $27 for kids. Dates include Jan. 27; Feb. 2 and 6; March 6, 27 and 31; and April 3.

Crested Butte always has events both on-mountain and in the nearby charming town of Crested Butte. The fourth annual Mountain High Music Festival, presented by country musician and songwriter Dean Dillon, is Jan. 16-19, with guest artists including Lance Carpenter, Jordan Rainer, Sundance Head, James Otto, Craig Morgan, Marla Cannon, Sonia Leigh and actor Keifer Sutherland.

To celebrate World Snowboard Day, Crested Butte will hold a modified banked slalom competition through the Gold Link terrain Jan. 19. The event is open just to snowboarders of all ages.

The Borealis Fat Bike World Championships are Jan. 24-27.

Crested Butte also will hold the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association Junior Freeride Regionals on Feb. 2-3. Contestants are ages 12-18. For details, visit www.freeskiers.org. It also will host the snowboarding junior nationals free-ride competition March 8-10.

The Prater Cup returns Feb. 21-24, with some 250 of Colorado’s finest alpine racers ages 12-13 trying to qualify for the junior national team. The Gothic Mountain Tour on Feb. 23 challenges backcountry racers on a 22-mile course with 5,000 feet of elevation changes. Visit www.cbnordic.org for details.

The 45th annual Al Johnson Uphill, Downhill Telemark Race is March 24, and is done in costumes. The race includes a 600-foot climb and a 1,200-foot descent. A serious ski mountaineering race March 29-30, the Grand Traverse, climbs up and over the Elk Mountain Range, reaching 12,303 feet, on a course taking skiers from Crested Butte to Aspen. The resort closes with the Ski Town Breakdown music fest April 5-7.

Conditions

Ski Santa Fe picked up

22 inches last week, and has a 48-inch base. Taos Ski Valley saw 27 inches fall and sits on a 45-inch base. Pajarito Mountain, is set with a 30-inch base — and has a hefty 98 inches. Most runs are open, except a handful off the Townsight Lift. It is open daily with adult passes costing $49 for adults, $42 for teens and $34 for children.

Angel Fire gained a foot and has a 29-inch base. It opened all but a handful of expert runs. Red River picked up 19 inches and reports a 35-inch base and 53 runs open. Sipapu gained 8 inches, taking its base to 33 inches, with almost all runs open, including double blacks Upper Wormwood, and the Upper JIB and Josh Chutes.

Ski Apache is hard to gauge.

Its website says it picked up 60 inches this week but also that its season-to-date total measures 50 inches and its base is at 60. It has two-thirds of its lifts operating and all runs open.

Wolf Creek was buried under 41 inches this past week, and has a 66-inch base. Its brand new lift chair, the high-speed Charity Jane, is operating. Crested Butte only saw 10 inches fall, but notches a 40-inch base with 12 of 15 lifts running and 86 of 121 runs open. Purgatory received 26 inches and comes in with a 41-inch base, all but one chair running and 76 percent of its slopes skiable.

Telluride, largely north of the storms, had 6 inches fall and has a 41-inch base, with all of its impressive lift system functioning and most of its expansive runs open, except some off Gold Hill and in the Palmyra Basin. Monarch Mountain also picked up 6 inches and has a 38-inch base. The gnarly trees and big bowls of its Mirkwood Basin are open.

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