Sunlight Mountain to open lower lift Friday | AspenTimes.com

Sunlight Mountain to open lower lift Friday

Kyle Mills
Post Independent

Ski tech manager Bob Bair works with other techs to ready the rental skis at the Sunlight Mountain Resort rental shop on Monday afternoon.

With a little help and cooperation from Mother Nature, Sunlight Mountain Resort is ready to host skiers and snowboarders for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"We are really excited to be able to get the area opened up about three weeks sooner than we anticipated," Sunlight General Manager Tom Hays said.

Originally, the resort wasn't scheduled to open until Dec. 14. The mountain will open its lower lift at 9 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

Sunlight expects to open again for three-day stretches during the weekends of Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 and Dec. 7 to 9, before opening full time Dec. 14.

With an average of a foot of snow across the lower part of the mountain and 25 to 30 skiable acres open for the weekend, it will be the first time sine the 2014-15 season Sunlight has been open for the weekend following Thanksgiving.

"We will have Tercero lift and Midway run open for this weekend, and then hopefully we get a storm to get enough snow to open up the top," Hays said.

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Early storms and cold temperatures have helped the ski resort with their efforts to open early.

"It helped us get a good base layer of snow down in the area where we are able to make snow," Sunlight Marketing and Sales Director Troy Hawks said.

"The temperatures have been real conducive to making snow," added Hays.

"Our snowmakers have been working hard, just making an incredible amount of snow on the lower part of the mountain."

Sunlight upgraded some of its snowmaking infrastructure, including piping and purchase of new energy efficient snowmaking guns for better snowmaking.

"They actually use less water and air … and they are making piles of snow," Hays said, adding they're some of the largest piles of snow that he has seen at the area in a long time.

Sunlight also doubled its available water supply to about 3.25 million gallons since last season, with the addition of a new supply pond.

"The new snowmaking equipment has been great," Hawks said. "We have a little more water at our disposal, plus more efficient and productive snowmaking heads.

"If we get a little more snow, we will be able to open up more runs, including the Loop and others runs on the lower end of the mountain," Hawks said.

The weather forecast is calling for snow at the end of the week, with a 30 percent chance on Friday and a 45 percent chance on Saturday.

Lift tickets will be $30 for adults and children, with the first 52 skiers and riders receiving free doughnuts to celebrate the mountain's 52nd season opener.

All of the departments will be open, including food and beverage, rental shop, ski school, and children's center.

Sunlight will be open after this weekend Friday through Sundays with only the Tercero lift operating until it receives more natural snow to open the upper mountain.

Officials are excited for the season to begin after a rough 2017-18 season.

"Obviously last year we had to delay our opening, be we got a decent batch of natural snow this season and it has stayed cold since that time," Hawks said.

"It has us really optimistic about the season."

"After a warm dry season like last year this has got us all excited," Hays said.

"I hope everyone plans on coming up to get their feet back underneath them, make a couple runs and get this winter kicked off the way it should be."

kmills@postindependent.com

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