With am­ple snow, El­dora gets early start on new year

New sea­son kicks off with over 40 inches of snow

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Cassa Niedring­haus

Snow­boarder Will McLean snagged a free break­fast bur­rito in the min­utes be­fore El­dora opened for the year.

The Den­verite posed for a pic­ture, break­fast bur­rito in hand, be­fore get­ting into the lift line. He thought the 41 inches of snow that have al­ready fallen at the moun­tain west of Ned­er­land and the re­sort’s early open, its ear­li­est in more than two decades, sig­naled an ex­cit­ing sea­son to come.

“It’s been dump­ing,” McLean said. “It’s go­ing to be the best sea­son of a decade.”

McLean was one of dozens of early birds who con­gre­gated at the Aspen­glow lift be­fore it be­gan car­ry­ing skiers and snow­board­ers up the hill at 9 a.m. When a man on a loud­speaker an­nounced that El­dora was of­fi­cially open, the crowd cheered. As they boarded the lift, they rang a large bell and con­tin­ued to cheer.

Snow rev­el­ers and El­dora of­fi­cials are op­ti­mistic about the sea­son ahead, and Ned­er­land lead­ers are hope­ful about the im­prov­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the town and the ski re­sort, which came un­der new own­er­ship by Powdr Corp. two years ago.

“I’ve heard noth­ing but good things from peo­ple,” Ned­er­land Mayor Kristo­pher Larsen said.

Ned­er­land lead­ers said El­dora general man­ager Brent Tre­gaskis and Powdr Corp. have in­creased com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­or­di­na­tion with the town.

Just this week, at a Ned­er­land Board of Trustees meet­ing, they set a tar­get to achieve 100 per­cent elec­tric en­ergy con­sump­tion from re­new­able sources by 2025, in align­ment with the town’s goals.

“They’ve joined with the town of Ned­er­land on our goal of be­ing 100 per­cent re­new­able on our elec­tri­cal grid by 2025,” Larsen said. “... If we don’t get off of fos­sil fu­els by now, re­ally, then we’re not go­ing to have ski­ing in 10, 15, 20 years.”

Larsen and Ned­er­land Town Mar­shal Larry Johns both said it was re­fresh­ing to see El­dora lead­ers at town meet­ings, in con­trast with the re­sort’s last own­ers.

“They didn’t give the im­pres­sion that they wanted to be a part of the town,” Larsen said. “They had no in­ter­est in in­volv­ing them­selves . ... That’s been a 180-de­gree change.”

The re­main­ing stick­ing point for lo­cals, though, is the traf­fic that courses through town to the re­sort and be­comes es­pe­cially con­gested on peak week­ends and hol­i­days.

“Short of stand­ing out and di­rect­ing traf­fic, there’s not a lot you can do be­cause you have such an in­flux of cars be­tween 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., roughly, they’ve just got to move through,” Johns said.

How­ever, the town is eye­ing a traf­fic study to col­lect data about the traf­fic and iden­tify pos­si­ble so­lu­tions. This year, too, the re­sort in­tro­duced 200 pri­or­ity park­ing spots for car­pool­ers, and re­sort of­fi­cials are seek­ing county ap­proval to sig­nif­i­cantly ex­pand the park­ing lot next sum­mer. They also are en­cour­ag­ing skiers to take the bus.

Tre­gaskis said the re­sort hopes to re­duce its car­bon foot­print.

“That com­bined with the fact that we run out of park­ing on peak week­ends in Jan­uary, Fe­bru­ary and even into March, we know we need to con­tinue to do more to get peo­ple to car­pool,” he said.

At the top of the Alpen­glow lift early Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Baird Mor­rish ad­justed his boots be­fore tak­ing off down the La Belle run with his daugh­ter, So­cia, a se­nior at Boul­der High School. The pair, from Ned­er­land, missed work and school, re­spec­tively, to en­joy the snow.

“It’s an early open­ing,” Baird Mor­rish said. “It just feels like it’s go­ing to be a ban­ner year.”

Later in the morn­ing, David Hocker from Estes Park helped his chil­dren, J.R., 10, and Clara, 8, tighten their boots and click into their skis be­fore their first run of the day.

He didn’t hes­i­tate to bring them ski­ing, he said. They’d been await­ing open­ing day and had been itch­ing to ski all sum­mer.

“It’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” he said. “Fresh snow, blue sky. We’re ready to hit it.”

Cliff Grass­mick, Daily Cam­era

El­dora Moun­tain opened for the 2018-19 ski and snow­board sea­son Wed­nes­day, a full nine days ahead of sched­ule.

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