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Local Ski Areas Adapt to Dry Winter

Purgatory Resort
For the first time in over 15 years, Purgatory Resort is offering night skiing. The activity is intended to replace night skiing at Hesperus Ski Area, which has been unable to open this season due to lack of snow.

With Southwestern Colorado’s snow pack at just 26 percent of average, ski resorts in the region are doing their best to adapt to the drier-than-usual conditions.

Tim Petrick, Chief Operating Officer of Silverton Mountain, says since his resort relies entirely on natural snowfall, they have had to delay their opening from December 28th until at least next week. He says all of the resort’s approximately 45 employees remain unable to work, but they are ready to start the lifts as soon as the snow falls.


Purgatory Resort, outside of Durango, is also adapting by manufacturing snow and providing night skiing. Purgatory's Director of Public Relations, Kim Oyler, says this is the first time the resort has offered night skiing in over 15 years. It is intended to replace the activity at its sister resort, Hesperus, which has also been unable to open this season due to lack of snow. But Oyler says visitation at Purgatory is down only slightly compared to previous years, and some people have rescheduled their trips until later in the season. 


At Telluride Ski Resort, CEO Bill Jensen says their investment in snowmaking equipment over the past five years has allowed them to open about 16 percent of the mountain so far. He says while visitation is about 75 percent of average, all the mountain’s restaurants are open and food and beverage sales are higher than last year. The resort has also hired extra safety personnel to manage an increased density of skiers on the trails.

The National Weather Service predictswarm and dry weather in the region until at least the middle of next week.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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