No early opening for Sunlight Mountain |

No early opening for Sunlight Mountain

John StroudPost IndependentAspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – There will not be an early opening at Sunlight Mountain Resort this Thanksgiving weekend, resort officials confirmed Tuesday.But with a little more help from the snow gods, the resort located outside Glenwood Springs should be set up nicely for its scheduled opening on Friday, Dec. 2.”The mountain is covered, but we do need a little more snow depth to keep everyone safe and have good conditions,” Sunlight Marketing Director Jenny Spillane said.Sunlight has close to a 20-inch base on top, after about five inches of snow fell last weekend and another three inches came Monday night.However, warm temperatures have made it difficult to maintain the base and have hampered nighttime snow-making abilities, Spillane said.”We were able to make a little snow when it was colder, but it’s been really warm the last few days,” she said.If all goes as planned, though, the area will have its regular season opening a week from Friday.To kick things off, Sunlight is hosting a premiere screening of the Teton Gravity Research ski adventure film, “One for the Road,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Hotel Colorado. The $15 tickets are available at Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop, 309 Ninth St., Glenwood Springs. Movie-goers can save their ticket stubs for a $10 discount at Sunlight until Friday, Dec. 16.Also, among the new pass offerings at Sunlight this year is a free season pass for children ages 5 and under, and for seniors age 80 and up.”It’s a way to thank our older skiers for all their years of patronage, and to get the younger ones started early,” Spillane said.On-mountain improvements this season include a small expansion of the terrain park, which has a launch point higher up the mountain off of the Crystal run.New events this year include the Jan. 14, 2012, Backcountry Festival, including tours and clinics on neighboring Williams Peak. The day’s events will also include the return of the Cosmic Race/Heathen Challenge, in which racers will hike up and ski down the Heathen run in the East Ridge Sunlight Extreme area.Lovers of the steep and deep can also take part in the new Defiance Challenge coming up on Feb. 3, 2012. It will challenge skiers and boarders to do as many runs as possible on an East Ridge run to be determined within a 10-hour period, using lift access. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Sunlight Ski Patrol.The Sunlight Endurance Challenge, a 12-hour ski ascent and decent races, also returns on Feb. 25, 2012.

Hiking or skinning up Sunlight Mountain while the lifts are open is allowed, although anyone planning to do so is required to obtain a free hiking pass from the guest services office in the base lodge.”We don’t charge and we don’t have a lot of controls, but we do require the pass,” Spillane said. “It’s a way to let people know the recommended routes and to remind them to be aware of their surroundings and that they can’t bring their dogs up.”Sunlight does discourage nighttime hiking, which can be popular on moonlit nights especially.”If people do head up, we just ask that they be aware that there is heavy equipment running on the mountain, and understand that dogs are not allowed,” Spillane said.Anyone who is on the mountain after dark may get a verbal warning from snow cat drivers to stay out of the way, she said.A suggested option for moonlight skiers is to use the cross country ski trails in Babbish Gulch, she