Howelsen Hill to offer free skiing on Sundays starting Dec. 2 | CraigDailyPress.com

Howelsen Hill to offer free skiing on Sundays starting Dec. 2

Snowmaking crews at Howelsen Hill were hard at work. The ski season starts at 10 a.m. Saturday.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While Steamboat Resort was poised to open for top-to-bottom skiing Friday, Howelsen Hill Ski Area operated by the city of Steamboat Springs at the heart of downtown was putting the final touches on runs for opening day Saturday.

Howelsen, which is the oldest operating ski area in the United States, is going into its 103rd season.

The city’s ski area has benefited from cold weather and natural snowfall after a summer plagued by drought.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Brad Setter, Howelsen Hill supervisor in a news release. “Mother Nature provided the initial layer, and our snowmaking crews, working around the clock, have cranked out a massive amount of snow over the past two weeks, setting the ski area up nicely as we head toward opening day.”

Howelsen will begin operating the Schnackenberg Poma lift at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The city is again offering free skiing on Sundays.

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Because of the snowmaking that has been accomplished, free skiing will begin early on Dec. 2.

Previously, free skiing was not scheduled to start until the middle of December.

Free skiing will be available through Howelsen’s closing day on March 10. On some Sundays, there will be limited terrain on Ski Free Sundays and closures because of events.

People wanting to participate in Ski Free Sundays need to sign a waiver at the ticket office before skiing.

“The start of the ski season is always an exciting time, and the hard work by so many at the hill will enable skiers and riders to enjoy their first turns on groomed trails,” Setter said. “Please help us as we work toward getting additional terrain ready for the season by staying off closed trails and all snowmaking snow piles.”

In the coming weeks, the city will announce when the Barrows lift and cross country trails will open.

In the meantime, cross country skiers can use a short loop behind the rodeo grandstands for classic and skate skiing.

Currently, no fat bike trails are available.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.