Preparing for snow in 2057

Steamboat ski area work crews setting pipes for next 50 years

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Construction crews at the Steamboat Ski Area are working toward a Nov. 21 opening of the 2007-08 ski season. Work being done on the Headwall trail this week includes burying new snowmaking lines and preparation for a concrete pour that is part of the lower terminal for the new Christie Peak Express chairlift.

— The blue concrete pipe stacked around the base of the Steamboat Ski Area this week has to do with the push to make snow not only later this month, but also 50 years into the future.

Ski area spokesman Mike Lane said construction crews working on the re-grading of the Headwall trail are busy installing new snowmaking pipelines made by the North American division of an Austrian company, Tiroler Rohren.

Steamboat first installed the state-of-the-art blue piping last year on the Vogue ski run.

"It's worked really well for us," Lane said. "It's supposed to last 50 years - twice as long as other products."

Colorado Ski Country USA announced this week that Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas already have begun snowmaking operations in the annual race to see who can open first in October. Steamboat is set to open Nov. 21 with the annual Scholarship Day to benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. The ski area typically begins making snow in late October when overnight temperatures consistently dip into the teens, Lane said. He added that construction on Headwall is on schedule to meet that timeframe, as part of $16 million in capital improvements at Steamboat this year.

"They'll be working on the new pipe for another week to 10 days, and when they get that done, they'll be ready to pressurize the system and get started," weather permitting, Lane said.

In 2006, Steamboat began making snow Oct. 26, in the midst of a series of frigid snowstorms that swept across Northwest Colorado.

The installation of new snowmaking lines is just part of the work taking place at the base of the ski area this week.

Lane said crews are grading the site of the lower terminal for the new Christie Peak Express high-speed, six-person chairlift, before pouring concrete later this week or early next week.

Concrete for the Christie Express mid-station and upper terminal already has been poured.

A large earth scraper is pushing topsoil to the upper portion of Headwall this week while dirt is being piled around large concrete footers for the towers of the relocated Preview chairlift.

"They're making a ton of progress this week," Lane said. "We have really good people who have a lot of experience working together and a lot of knowledge."

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