On the Hill: The wait is almost over
With sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-40s predicted for the next few days, it may not be the most wintry start to a ski season. But make no mistake: This is it. Today is the last day before the season officially opens in Aspen (see related story); Snowmass will open on Thursday. The same holds true for several resorts around the state. Also scheduled to open over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend are Beaver Creek (which will open tomorrow with five lifts serving 23 runs and 412 acres), Durango, Monarch, Ski Cooper, Steamboat and Telluride.They join Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Eldora, Keystone, Loveland, Vail, Winter Park and Wolf Creek, which will slowly ratchet up their available terrain.Lifts will roll at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk on Dec. 10; Sunlight is scheduled to open Dec. 2.On the cross-country skiing side of things, Aspen/Snowmass is reporting one of 14 trails open for five miles of skiing on a machine-groomed base of just under 6 inches. (Unfortunately, Nordic skiers have to rely on Mother Nature for early season snow!)Avalanche reportA handful of slides were reported yesterday, all in the northern mountains. But many observers are using the word variable to describe their backcountry conditions, which means skiers and boarders need to continuously re-evaluate the snow and terrain they are traveling on and keep up their avalanche sense.The overall danger for the central mountains has been lowered, though not for the Aspen area as there are still pockets of considerable. Observers feel it is still probable that people could trigger slabs on the right terrain on the Aspen side of the Elk Mountains. Avalanche danger details provided by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.aspects.
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Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.