Rick Restall just couldn't wait to get back on skis this season. He hiked up the slopes Monday to take an early season run. Steamboat Ski Area is scheduled to open Wednesday with Scholarship Day. Skiers and snowboarders can access the upper trails by purchasing a $30 lift ticket, or can chose to access the lower mountain with a $20 lift ticket.

Photo by John F. Russell

Rick Restall just couldn't wait to get back on skis this season. He hiked up the slopes Monday to take an early season run. Steamboat Ski Area is scheduled to open Wednesday with Scholarship Day. Skiers and snowboarders can access the upper trails by purchasing a $30 lift ticket, or can chose to access the lower mountain with a $20 lift ticket.

Steamboat Ski Area to open Wednesday with more than 630 acres

Opening Day lifts

Christie Peak Express

Gondola

Storm Peak Express

Burgess Creek

Four Points

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Snow guns sit idol Monday afternoon as snowmaking operations wait for cooler temperatures to start making snow at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. The ski area will open Wednesday for Scholarship day.

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Bartender Turia McKenzie smiles after getting back to work at the T Bar at Steamboat on Monday afternoon. The T Bar will open Wednesday at 11 a.m. for the start of the new season at Steamboat Ski Area.

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The employees at the T Bar were busy Monday afternoon preparing for a new season at Steamboat Ski Area. Jordan Pike was one of several employees preparing food for Wednesday's Scholarship Day.

— Steamboat Ski Area announced Monday that it will have five lifts, 52 trails and 635 acres of terrain open when the season starts with Scholarship Day on Wednesday.

The ski area has seen 87 inches of snow since Oct. 1, and September, October and November all have had above average moisture.

The abundance of snow on the mountain will allow skiers to access terrain on Opening Day that’s typically reserved for later in the season, and it also sends a positive message to tourists looking to book for a wintry Thanksgiving.

Larry Mashaw, vice president of sales and marketing for Resort Group, said that Mountain Resorts and Pioneer Ridge have more reservations now than they had through Thanksgiving in 2012 with more bookings coming in every day.

There’s been a spike in online bookings for affordable slopeside rentals, he said, but Pioneer Ridge also has seen some reservations for larger properties.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association lodging barometer forecasts 2,900 pillows will be full Saturday across lodging properties. In 2012, the barometer predicted that 2,600 visitors would be in town the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and 3,200 were estimated to have stayed in lodging that night.

The bar and outdoor barbecue deck at the Four Points Lodge at mid-mountain will open Wednesday, according to a news release, and visitors and residents alike will be able to ski about 21 percent of Steamboat Ski Area’s terrain.

A $30 lift ticket and a $20 lower mountain lift ticket will benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Scholarship Fund. Season passes and other types of tickets will not be valid until Thanksgiving Day.

The proceeds of Scholarship Day are used to ensure that youngsters who might not otherwise be able to take part in Winter Sports Club programs have the opportunity.

“A significant portion of the upper mountain from Buddy’s Run to High Noon will open Wednesday,” the release stated. “This terrain features much of the resort’s legendary tree areas, including the upper portions of Shadows, Closets and Twilight as well as One, Two and Three O’Clock trails down to Duster. For those looking to get their jib on, several rails and features are expected to be available on Lil’ Rodeo terrain park sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend.”

If skiers or snowboarders access the upper mountain, they will have to download using the gondola. Upper Why Not and So What beginner trails only will be available from the top of the gondola to the bottom of Burgess Creek lift, the release states.

Steamboat Vice President of Mountain Operations Doug Allen said Monday that the snowmaking forecast had improved since Sunday, and with the forecast showing overnight lows to be in the teens Monday and Tuesday nights, his crews may get Heavenly Daze ready for skiing to the bottom before the weekend.

“We did pretty good with snowmaking on the Daze (Sunday) night, but right now, it’s only three of four passes — three times a snowcat width,” Allen said. “We’ve got egress if we need it, if the gondola wasn’t running, but we won’t open (Heavenly Daze) until it’s wider than that.”

Allen said he wouldn’t promise anything until it’s a certainty, but he felt optimistic that Heavenly Daze would be open by the weekend if not sooner.

Since the weekend, when overnight lows Monday and Tuesday nights were expected to be in the mid-20s, the forecast has dropped the lows to 16 degrees under clear skies both nights. Daytime highs could reach the low 40s in the valley both Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day, but overnight lows are expected to reach the low 20s through Friday night.

A variety of weather forecasters agree the Colorado Rockies aren’t due for fresh natural snow during the next four or five days, which could be taken as good news for travelers trying to reach the slopes.

Joel Gratz, of OpenSnow, sees potential of a winter storm track headed for Northwest Colorado early next week.

“It’s likely that heavy snow starts this weekend along the coast of the Pacific Northwest, moving inland, and reaching our area around Tuesday,” Gratz wrote early Monday afternoon.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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