Clouds deliver hope for Sunlight on opening day
SUNLIGHT – The traffic traveling Four Mile Road Friday morning was probably double the usual amount. Instead of all the morning traffic migrating toward Glenwood Springs, it was going in the opposite direction, toward snow-covered hills.
With gray clouds and the apparent dusting of snow on the high country from the floor of the Roaring Fork Valley, those who could and would, packed up the planks and headed toward Sunlight Mountain Resort for the 41st annual opening day.There weren’t enough automobiles to cause a traffic jam and there was no need to race to the humble resort – parking was not an issue. But there was snow gently making its way to the earth, and that makes the crew at Sunlight very happy.”We heard it was supposed to snow about 11 o’clock this morning, but it’s already here,” said assistant lift supervisor Mike Duling. “Hopefully it will last all day.”Sporadic snow fell throughout the day bringing much needed precipitation to the mountain. Friday, Sunlight opened as scheduled with only the Tercero Lift from the base of the mountain taking skiers to the mid-way point. The only run open was Midway run.
Dirt and wildland grasses poked their way through much of the winter blanket on the steeper hills flanking the Midway run. But despite the lack of open terrain, skiers understood that this was just the beginning of the season. And skiing on a Friday is always better than working, no matter what day of the week it is.That’s Rodney Naylor’s view. He took Friday morning off from work in order to spend some much needed time on the slopes.”I always do,” Naylor said. “This is my third year at Sunlight’s opening day.”Sunlight reported an 11-inch top mountain base with temperatures in the teens to low 20s. That was plenty for skiers like Naylor to enjoy a few early season runs.
“It’s been better the last couple of years,” Naylor said. “But you’ve still got to do it. At least it’s snowing on opening day.”Snow is a good sign. And more in the forecast has Sunlight employees and skiers getting their hopes up for a better week than planned. Sunlight expected to open for Friday, Saturday and Sunday then close again until the following Friday. But if extra snow comes this weekend, Sunlight’s’ immediate future could be bright.”Plans to stay open depend upon the weather. We need 18 inches at the top to stay open,” said marketing and events coordinator Angie Quinn. “We’re expecting more snow through the weekend. If we get enough we could be open for the season,”According to Quinn, “Sunday could be epic.”
Rachel Galloway, Sunlight’s guest services manager agreed with Quinn, saying that all the resort’s terrain is pretty well covered already and with just one good dumping they could open a whole lot more. Galloway expected about nine inches of snow Friday night with a follow up storm on Saturday bringing an estimated seven additional inches.”We hope to have more opened next weekend,” Galloway said.Her main concern is for skiers to be careful and watch for early season obstacles. With early season conditions injuries could happen easier than one would think.”Be careful of the edges and watch the groomed, packed powder,” Galloway said. “Other than that, enjoy it and take it easy. Keep safe and be careful, people are excited but we don’t want anyone to ruin the season this early.”
Skiers hope Sunlight will be clouded with storm clouds through the weekend.Contact John Gardner: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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UPDATE 5:27 p.m. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened in both directions Saturday evening after a safety closure due to a flash flood warning. There were no reported mud/debris slides.