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Vail to open Friday with 70 acres of terrain

On the heels of the largest snowmaking expansion project in Vail Mountain’s history and in North America, Vail is set to open on Friday with a reimagined opening day terrain experience, offering skiers and riders approximately 70 acres of terrain accessed via Gondola One in Vail Village starting at 9 a.m.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to kick off the 2019-2020 winter season at Vail on Friday,” said Beth Howard, Vail Mountain’s new vice president and chief operating officer, in a company news release. “Thanks to our enormous snowmaking expansion project, we have an entirely new early-season terrain package available this year, and we can’t wait for our guests to experience the difference. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to our mountain operations teams for their hard work this summer and fall to make it all possible.”

New for this season, Vail will open skiing and riding out of Vail Village, with upload and download access to the Mid-Vail area via Gondola One. The resort will offer skiing and riding terrain for all ability levels on trails accessed by Mountaintop Express Lift (No. 4) out of Mid-Vail including Swingsville, Ramshorn, Slifer Express, Cappuccino, Upper Powerline, Lower Meadows, beginner terrain out of Golden Peak’s Gopher Hill Lift (No. 12) and Sherry’s Carpet (No. 33), and the connector trail between Golden Peak and Vail Village.

As part of the Opening Day festivities, Vail’s COO Beth Howard along with snowmaking project leaders will perform a celebratory ribbon cutting on one of Vail’s new state-of-the-art snow guns at the base of Gondola One at 8:30 a.m.

This year’s Opening Day will unveil Vail Mountain’s entirely new and enhanced early-season ski experience, made possible by this summer’s massive snowmaking expansion project — the largest in Vail Mountain’s history and the largest one-year snowmaking expansion in North America. Nearly 200 acres of new and enhanced snowmaking terrain this season, in addition to the previously existing 431 acres of snowmaking terrain, provides guests with access to higher elevation terrain, a broader variety of trails, and improved early season ski school terrain. Vail will continue to make snow across the mountain at every opportunity as weather and conditions permit, and look to expand open terrain as soon as possible.

Complimentary breakfast burritos and hot cocoa will be provided in Mountain Plaza at the base of Gondola One for early risers on opening day, while supplies last. Express Lift Bar will be open in Mountain Plaza as well. For dining on the mountain, Look Ma at Mid-Vail and Buffalo’s at the top of Mountaintop Express Lift (No. 4) will be fully operational starting at 9 a.m.

In support of its major snowmaking investments on the mountain, Vail will also be kicking off exciting new traditions in the early season this year:

Vail Après

Beginning on Opening Day and continuing every day throughout the season, bells will be rung at 3 p.m. throughout Vail Village, Lionshead Village and on the mountain, signifying the start to après-ski: a time to celebrate the day’s achievements on the mountain and come together with the community to enjoy the post-skiing experience. During Vail Après, guests will enjoy unique offerings such as champagne toasts, signature food and drink specials, and retail promotions. Vail Mountain and the Town of Vail have partnered to bring this experience to life, distributing bells to local merchants and community partners to ring each day at 3 p.m., in homage to Vail’s European Alpine heritage.

Revely Vail

This Thanksgiving, Vail is debuting its new holiday tradition: Revely Vail, a week-long celebration to kick off the holiday season and the 2019-2020 winter ski season. From Nov. 23-30, Revely Vail will offer family-oriented activities throughout Vail Village, including cooking classes, ice skating, a Gingerbread Contest, Explosion of Lights and a Kris Kringle Market. A signature 10th Mountain Legacy Parade will also take place along the streets of Vail on Friday, Nov. 29, honoring veterans and commemorating the unique legacy of Vail’s founders.

Early season and uphill access

All guests are reminded that they must observe all posted signs, closures and slow zones, especially during the early season. Closed trails may contain hazards due to early snow coverage. Accessing closed terrain is a violation of the Colorado Ski Safety Act and will result in the loss of skiing privileges and could involve prosecution and a fine.

During the early season, uphill access routes will be very limited and are subject to change and/or close on a daily basis. Uphill access is currently closed. For the safety of guests and employees, all uphill access users are required to call the Uphill Access Hotline before accessing the mountain at (970)-754-3049. For more information on the resort’s uphill access policy and guidelines, including designated routes during winter operations, visit our Safety Info page here.

Lift tickets

The ticket and season pass offices located in Vail Village, Golden Peak and Lionshead will be open daily beginning on Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information about Vail Mountain visit http://www.vail.com, stop by the Mountain Information Center, or call (970) SKI-VAIL (754-8245).

Vail Ski & Snowboard School

Beginning Friday, the Vail Village and Golden Peak Ski & Snowboard School will be open. Walk-ins are accepted. For the best price guaranteed, guests are encouraged to book in advance online at http://www.vail.com or by calling (970) SKI-VAIL (754-8245).

Aspen Skiing Co. among those saying goodbye to ski wax, hello to Phantom

It is one of those products that seems too good to be true — except in this case it’s winning over hardcore skiers, snowboarders and ski-tuning experts.

A new, waxless base treatment product called Phantom claims to eliminate the need to ever wax your boards again, for their lifetime. It is a one-time, permanent application. The manufacturer DPS, a company that also makes skis, says Phantom works across all snow temperatures to provide a great glide.

Aspen Skiing Co. officials checked it out two seasons ago as an in-house experiment and became believers. Phantom was applied to the bases of about 350 premium rentals skis for the 2018-19 season.

This fall, Skico tune manager John “Norm” Norman and his crew at the tune shop at Aspen Highlands are treating about 2,300 pairs of skis from Skico’s rental fleet.

“It’s not a very hard sell if you have any knowledge of skiing,” Norman said.

He is a guy who is so particular in his need for speed that he likens having a couple of burrs on his edges to “dragging a metal rake behind you.” He likes his boards to be fast and responsive. Phantom helps fit the bill, he said.

It’s different than wax because it absorbs deep into the base of skis and snowboards rather than simply coats the base. Exposure to UV light creates a chemical bond between Phantom and the board. It creates a strong and faster base, according to DPS.

Anyone who wants to geek out on details of the product and the application process can go to DPS’s website at http://www.dpsskis.com/phantom-glide.

Aspen Skiing Company Tune Manager John Norman applies Phantom to the bottom of skis from the Aspen Skiing Co.’s rental fleet in the Highlands tune shop on Wednesday.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Norman rode his Phantom-treated snowboard 80 times in the low-snow season two winters ago and 120 times last season. He would typically reapply wax every three times out. He never felt the need to enhance the one Phantom application.

“I pretty much went all-in,” he said.

He also enlisted about 10 ski patrollers to try it out. They are up early when temperatures are cold and the ski surface is hard and they’re out late in the afternoon on the sunbaked surface.

“They’re a pretty good test, in my opinion,” Norman said. The patrollers who have tried it have given it a thumbs up, he said.

Skico senior staff also served as Guinea pigs. President and CEO Mike Kaplan, Senior Vice President of Mountain Operations Katie Ertl and Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Rich Burkley have tried Phantom on at least some of their skis.

“I would say that the Phantom surface was similar to a very good tune and wax,” Burkley said.

He had it applied to the skis he uses exclusively at Highlands. He rode them about 30 times last season, mostly in powder conditions. There wasn’t much spring skiing on wet snow and ice, but Burkley said he senses the Phantom-treated skis would shed water well, like a warm wax.

“Toward the end of the season the surface was still feeling like a fresh wax,” he said.

Burkley is eager to try the skis again this year after they sat for the summer.

Phantom first captured Skico’s attention as an environmentally friendly alternative to standard wax, which rubs off skis and onto the snow. It ultimately ends up in the watershed.

“The Environmental Protection Agency is actually, oddly, quite focused on fluorinated waxes right now,” Auden Schendler, Skico’s senior vice president of sustainability and community engagement, wrote in an email.

DPS says on its website that cured Phantom doesn’t cause biological damage and there won’t be long-term environmental risks.

The benefits go beyond environment, Schendler said. Most skiers don’t do a very good job of keeping their skis waxed, so performance wanes with time. With Phantom, there is no reduction of performance after 10, 50 or 100 times on skis.

“As a ski owner, think about return on investment — you don’t have to spend time and money on wax, but you get the performance,” Schendler said.

He sees a bright future. “I think this is a disruptive technology and it’s going to restructure the wax industry.”

A lot of Skico’s customers rent skis for a week of more during their stay. They typically would bring their skis in a time or two for wax. Phantom has reduced those requests, Norman said.

He was quick to note that Phantom won’t eliminate trips to the tune shop to repair gouges and sharpen edges. Eliminating wax won’t put tuners out of business. It will just reduce time spent applying wax.

Mention Phantom to skiers and snowboarders and it will likely produce a puzzled look. It’s not widely known yet despite favorable reviews in The Denver Post and SKI magazine.

Norman said a few customers have heard of it and seek the Phantom treatment. Skico charges $164 for the cost of the product, proper application and stone grinding the base of boards for preparation. But by eliminating the need for repeated wax application, it pays for itself quickly.

Basalt Bike and Ski is the only other shop listed in the Roaring Fork Valley as a dealer for Phantom.

Applied to alpine touring skis, Norman said, Phantom will eliminate the climbing skins pulling off wax or dirt from the skins affecting the wax.

Norman said there are some old-school ski bums who like to spend the time waxing their own boards. They probably won’t change. For everyone else, Phantom is the future, he said.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Officials warn residents to keep distance from deer during rutting season

Mule deer are entering their mating season — known as “the rut” — and Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds everyone to be careful around deer and especially bucks which can act aggressively at this time of year.

Colorado residents are also asked to remove items from their yards in which deer can be entangled. Items include, but not limited to: hammocks, game nets, swings, lawn chairs, tomato cages, kids’ toys, bicycles, hanging lights, etc. Wandering bucks are prone to get tangled in backyard items.

Bucks have a one-track mind at this time of year – they want a mate. So they can become agitated if any other animal, object or person appears to be posing a challenge. Dogs are often targets and they can be badly injured by a buck’s antlers. Several attacks have been reported around the state this fall.

Deer can become aggressive toward humans, so stay well away from them. Do no try to get close for that selfie.

The “rut” lasts until about mid-December; if you live in an area where you see lots of deer, take precautions.

CPW recommends:

  • Keep dogs on a leash. 
  • On walks, with or without your dog, stay as far away from deer as possible. 
  • Don’t allow dogs to roam free. 
  • Make sure your dog is safe when it’s outside. 
  • Never let your dog chase deer or other wildlife. 
  • Never leave food outside that could attract wildlife. 
  • Tell children not to approach deer or any other wildlife 

 For more information about Colorado’s wildlife, go to cpw.state.co.us.

On the Fly column: Right place, right fly

Rocky Thickstun, my go-to Louisiana guide, made a comment in the marsh last week that stuck with me. I would argue this applies even more to fishing here in the Rocky Mountain West. “You can have the right fly on, but it has to be fished the right way in the right place. You can have the wrong fly on, but if you fish it the right way and the right place, you’ll be successful.” This kind of blew my mind. Rocky has a way of doing that.

Here in Colorado the trout tend to get hyper-focused on the distinct phase in the life cycle of a particular insect, so having the “right fly” can be pretty darn important. But if that “right fly” isn’t where it is supposed to be in the water column or is behaving in an unnatural way, that fly tends to get refused. On the flip side, if your fly choice isn’t correct but is delivered on a silver platter (where and how they want to see it), things can generally work in your favor.

It really is all about “presentation” when casting a fly at a trout (or a 30-pound redfish). More than once I’ve seen a redfish show interest in my fly but ultimately sulk away because something didn’t look right. This doubly applies to wary Roaring Fork Valley trout. Once a fish has been fooled a few times, which most have around here, they tend to ignore what looks unnatural or imperfect.

This is mostly about your “drift” in the trout game. Essentially, your offering needs to appear unattached to you, the angler. Your fly needs to look like it’s just floating merrily downstream like the naturals, and not attached to a person standing on the bank. If your dry fly or indicator are keeping perfect pace with the various bubbles on the river surface, you’re mostly there. Use your powers of observation the next time you’re on the river, and keep it “natural” out there.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.

Missing hunter’s body found north of Hayden

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A man died from what appears to be natural causes Wednesday night while hunting in a remote area north of Hayden.

At 6:19 p.m. Wednesday, Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a search for a 70-year-old man, Joseph Vultaggio, who went missing in the California Park area.

The body of a 70-year old man, Joseph Vultaggio, was found Wednesday evening in California Park north of Hayden, pictured here in 2017. Routt County coroner Rob Ryg has not performed an autopsy yet, but said the man died of natural causes.
John F. Russell

Vultaggio had some pre-existing health conditions, according to Lt. Ryan Adrian. Vultaggio, from Centennial, was hunting in the area with several family members but had gone off on his own for the day. His family worried when he did not return to camp on time and went to look for him.

They eventually found his truck along Routt County Road 80, according to Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg. His family located his body about 100 yards from the vehicle.

Ryg has not yet determined an official cause of death. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

“It’s a natural death for sure,” Ryg said.

Steamboat Resort to open Nov. 15; earliest Opening Day in history

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Resort will open on the earliest date in its history. 

The 2019-20 season will begin on Friday, Nov. 15, according to a news release from the ski area issued Thursday morning. This comes after significant snowfall and cool temperatures in October, with more than 63 inches of accumulation at mid-mountain.

“Winter came early to Steamboat and with record breaking snow in October, opening sooner was an easy decision,” Rob Perlman, president and chief operating officer of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said in the news release.

Christie Peak Express will be the only available lift, with access to 10 trails and parts of the Lil’ Rodeo Terrain Park.

Daily lift passes will be sold at a reduced price of $50 for the first week of operations. All other season passes, including the Ikon Pass, will be valid for the earlier-than-expected opening day. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

Copper Mountain Resort to open 90 acres of top-to-bottom terrain Friday

COPPER MOUNTAIN RESORT — The American Eagle lift will start spinning at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, kicking off the ski and snowboard season at Copper Mountain Resort.

The ski area will open with three lifts, including Easy Rider and Excelerator, and five trails, including Ptarmigan, Rhapsody, Main Vein, Fairplay and Easy Rider, according to a news release.

The 90 acres of terrain set to open will provide trails for all ability levels in addition to a Woodward Pop-Up park on Lower Bouncer, which is expected to have one jump and about a dozen features.

Tickets for opening weekend are $97 when purchased in advance online or $119 at the window. On Monday, Nov. 11, Copper will offer $60 lift tickets for Veterans Day. Those discounted tickets are available in advance online.

There also will be live music and giveaways throughout the weekend.

Hunting violations in Colorado can be costly

FRISCO — The big game hunting season is upon us in Colorado, and some already have taken the opportunity to trek onto the area’s recreational lands with hopes of snagging a moose or bear.

Others have their eyes on hunting deer or elk in the final few weeks of the season or are gearing up for another of the state’s small game or waterfowl seasons. But regardless of each hunters’ proclivities, law enforcement agents with Colorado Parks and Wildlife are around to ensure the proper monitoring and managing of wildlife, and to protect one of the state’s most important natural resources.

While most hunters are ethical sportsmen and women seeking the thrill and challenge of hunting for their own food, there are often bad actors in the field. And violations of the state’s hunting laws, whether on purpose or accident, can have serious consequences.

“Most of the people that participate in our activities — hunting, fishing and even going to state parks — are absolutely trying to do the right thing all the time,” said Dean Riggs, northwest deputy regional manager with Parks and Wildlife. “But there are two major categories of people who often violate our rules.

“There’s the guy that makes the mistake and probably just doesn’t understand the violations. They come from out of state, where things are done differently, and they’re probably not doing it willfully. Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, where I would use the word ‘poacher’ — the guy who knowingly and willingly, in spite of the law, goes out and violates.”

Riggs said the number of violations in any given year is extremely variable, jumping up and down from year to year with seemingly no real driving factor. Violations do tend to be consistent with regard to location and the type of “wildlife interest” in the area. Riggs noted that he came from the Pueblo region, where fishing violations were abundant in contrast to his more recent role on the Western Slope, where big game violations are much more common.

Perhaps the most common violations are safety issues, Riggs said, including hunters who fail to wear the required 500 inches of daylight fluorescent orange or pink clothing, carry a loaded firearm in their vehicle, go onto private land without permission to retrieve a harvested animal, and shoot too close to the road, among others.

And while these might seem like relatively innocuous infractions compared with something like poaching, the repercussions can be considerable — particularly because once a law has been broken, violations tend to snowball.

Riggs gave the example of a hunter who gets over excited and decides to shoot a six-point bull elk but doesn’t get far enough from the road before firing. For the initial violation, shooting from the road, the hunter could be fined $100 in addition to surcharges in the amounts of $37 and $7.50.

Because the animal was killed illegally, the hunter also is now liable for a $1,000 illegal possession fine in addition to more surcharges. Finally, because the bull elk is considered a trophy animal under Samson’s Law — which prescribes fines for animals killed illegally based on horn or antler measurements — the hunter could be hit with an additional $10,000 fine.

In addition to large fines, violations also can result in the suspension of a hunting license based on a 20-point system, similar to a driver’s license. In the aforementioned example, Riggs said the shooting from the road violation would result in a five-point loss, and the illegal possession violation would result in a 15-point loss, enough to take someone’s license away.

“You can easily have four or five violations stemming from one mistake,” Riggs said. “All of a sudden, you start to add everything up, and you’re looking at almost $12,000 in fines. But you could also be suspended in our state, and almost every other state in the union, from legally hunting and fishing. What I’ve found is that fines are one thing for people with a certain level of income, but when you start talking about suspending a serious hunter’s license, that really gets their attention.”

Colorado is one of 45 states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, meaning a license suspension or revocation here carries with you almost anywhere in the United States. Riggs noted that suspensions typically last between one and five years and that repeat or particularly egregious offenders could receive a lifetime ban.

THE PROBLEM OF POACHING

Certainly not all hunting violations are accidental, and Riggs said Parks and Wildlife deals with a small amount of willful offenders every year. Wildlife officials estimate poaching might be more widespread than most realize, with some national studies indicating that poachers kill almost as many animals as legitimate hunters do during legal seasons.

In Colorado, the most common forms of poaching include the illegal hunting of bears for their gallbladders — Riggs noted they sell overseas to Asia for a high cost — and poachers killing elk and deer, taking their heads and antlers, and leaving the rest of the carcass.

Riggs said in those cases, the penalties will be much more severe, typically including felony charges.

“People kill all sorts of critters because of the nature of the beast and the fact that they’re going to somehow gain monetarily from those species,” Riggs said. “Usually, that’s the extreme end of the poaching industry. … But I’d also put some of those violators in the category of addicts. As they violate the law and don’t get caught, they feel emboldened to continue. Those are the real extreme people. Luckily in our business, it’s like a 1% scenario, and we don’t deal with it on a regular basis.”

While many hunting violations are simply mistakes, Riggs urged hunters to take another look at Parks and Wildlife’s hunting brochures, which keep hunters up to date with new rules and regulations each year. Riggs also noted that any hunter with questions should reach out to a representative with Parks and Wildlife before heading into the field.

“At the end of the day, we want everyone to have a good time, enjoy our outdoors and our great recreational opportunities,” Riggs said. “Law enforcement is a part of wildlife management. It’s a necessary evil. We’re really trying to protect you and make sure our natural resources are taken care of into the future. But it all starts with the individual hunter educating themselves and making sure they know why we manage, how we manage.”

On the Fly column: Winter fishing challenges not hard to meet

As we prepare for the winter season in the fly shop, putting gloves, capilene and hand warmers back on the shelf, it brings back fond memories of last winter. Winter fishing is pretty special around here, as most of you are well aware. Crowds are thin to nonexistent, the fish pile up together in the deeper runs and pools, and those warm and cloudy days can often feel just as “buggy” as summer days do. The added distractions of saltwater trips, deer, elk and duck hunting make this season one of our favorites.

The challenges we face on the water during winter aren’t that tough, if you know how to prepare and know what to expect. Fishing during these lean water times teaches you to “hunt” your fish, much like you would a turkey or deer. During summer, big water disguises our footfalls and false casts. Now is the time to go slow and be sneaky. Stay out of the water completely if possible, downsize your indicators, flies and weight, and use the low water levels to your advantage and seek out the biggest fish in the run.

Staying warm and dry is another obvious challenge through the winter, but easy to deal with when you plan ahead. If you live here, get dressed and rigged at home if possible. Putting on waders and rigging a rod in the wind and cold isn’t so fun, keep those waders and rods in your garage or mud room. Utilizing the many rod vaults available for your vehicle saves time and frustration, too. Get dressed and rigged at home, grab that rod out of the vault when you get to your spot, and go fish.

Two sets of dry gloves, a small towel and perhaps a few hand and toe warmers can make or break your day when it’s cold. Timing changes in the winter. Focus on the warmest parts of the day, there is no reason to hit the water at dawn. Finally, choose your battles out there. Go fishing when the weather works for you. Those trout will wait.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or taylorcreek.com.

Sunlight snowmaking is in full swing, in anticipation of possible early opening

Ross Terry can remember starting snowmaking operations in October maybe only once in his long tenure with Sunlight Mountain Resort outside of Glenwood Springs. 

But nothing quite like last week, when the area received 6 inches of natural snow Tuesday, followed by frigid temperatures that allowed for a 36-hour stretch of continuous snowmaking Tuesday night through Wednesday.

During a normal 24-hour period when temperatures are right, Sunlight can put close to 2 acre-feet of crystalized water on the ground, according to Terry, the assistant general manager and operations director for the resort. 

That translates to about 4 acre-feet of snow, or enough to cover 4 acres with a foot of snow depth, Terry explained.

“If this is not the earliest, it ties the earliest,” Terry said of the October start. “This is definitely the coldest I’ve seen it get in October.”

Snowmaking operations continued at Sunlight during the colder nighttime and morning hours late in the week and through the weekend, and the ski area is on its way to a possible early opening — if the weather continues to cooperate.

So, what does it entail to build that all-important early-season snow base at Sunlight?

Sunlight has enough water rights on Four Mile Creek to pump about 450 gallons per minute of water into the snowmaking system, according to Mountain Manager and head snowmaker Mike Baumli.

Sunlight Mountain Manager and head snowmaker Mike Baumli talks about the process the mountain goes through to get the ski resort ready for the upcoming season. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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That system includes a series of three containment ponds, two in adjacent Babbish Gulch and another just off upper Four Mile Road.

Water is regulated from those ponds and piped into Sunlight’s pumping station.

The pump house is loud, as water is pushed through and into the large hoses that feed the eight snow guns on the mountain.

“I come in here periodically to check the flow and make sure the pumps are running good, and that we’re not taking more water than we’re supposed to,” Baumli said.

Last week, operating off of just one of two available compressors, Baumli said they were able to pump 385 gallons of water per minute through the system.

Video

The more-efficient HKD snow guns in use now allow Sunlight to operate with less air and less water per gun.

“A big part of the ski business these days is sustainability, which means being efficient with power and water usage,” Baumli said. “We can run three of these [guns] on the same air that used to run one gun, and flow a little less water per gun.

With the below-freezing temperatures, water turns to snow as it shoots out the nozzles on the snowmaking gun at Sunlight Mountain.
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“As the technology gets better, it helps us to be more efficient … which is good not only for the environment but for us as a business.”

Sunlight limits its snowmaking to the lower part of the mountain, on the Midway run and parts of lower Joslin where ski races take place during the winter.

Even if the daytime temperatures rise back into the mid-40s at Sunlight’s 8,300-foot base elevation, as they are expected to this week, the snow already on the ground in large piles should remain intact, Baumli said 

“Once it’s on the ground, we leave it in piles and the snow tends to insulate itself,” he said. “With the temperatures warming back up, we’ll keep it in piles as long as we can.”

Sunlight has a scheduled opening day of Dec. 13, but if favorable conditions continue the area might open as early as the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to Sunlight Marketing and Sales Director Troy Hawks.

Snow begins to pile up at the base of Sunlight Mountain on Friday as the ski area prepares for the upcoming season.
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In the meantime, Sunlight is closed for all activities while snowmaking operations are underway. 

“We advise hikers, snowshoers and cross country skiers to utilize the Babbish Gulch backcountry trails until snowmaking is complete,” Hawks said.

jstroud@postindependent.com