Colorado skiers and snowboarders have been reveling in powder thanks to a major storm system that benefited all regions of the high country — but nowhere more than at Purgatory in the southwest corner of the state.
Purgatory received 33 inches from the storm as of Wednesday morning and 16 more are forecast for the next two days. Other southern resorts got hit hard as well, with Silverton receiving 30 inches, Wolf Creek 25 and Telluride 17.
“Floating on air,” Purgatory marketing director Amanda Anderson said of powder skiing there Tuesday. “It was amazing.”
The storm was a boon to the central mountains as well, especially areas in or near Aspen. Snowmass received 25 inches and five nearby resorts received a foot or more: Aspen Highlands registered 18, Sunlight 16, Buttermilk 14, Crested Butte 14 and Aspen Mountain 12.
Northern mountains most often frequented by Front Range skiers and riders received 4-7 inches but up to 8 more are forecast for the next two days.
This week’s storm system is particularly welcome at Purgatory and Telluride, which got great snowfall around the Christmas holidays but not much since. That area of the state also has been dealing with persistent drought.
“We had an amazing holiday storm cycle, and then it was really dry up until two days ago,” Anderson said. “This is a huge refresh. It’s nice to re-engage our pass-holders and make the mountain look a whole lot more like winter again.”
Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued a warning for the Grand Mesa, Aspen, Gunnison, Northern San Juan and Southern San Juan mountains.
“Heavy snowfall and strong winds produced very dangerous avalanche conditions,” the CAIC said. “Large avalanches will be very easy to trigger and some will run naturally. Travel in backcountry avalanche terrain is not recommended.”
The avalanche danger for the Front Range, Vail area, Summit County, Steamboat Springs area and Sawatch Range is rated considerable, No. 3 on an avalanche danger scale of 1-5.
“Dangerous avalanche conditions exist, especially in easterly-facing (slopes) near and above treeline areas where strong winds have built stiff slabs,” the CAIC advised skiers and riders in the areas of considerable risk. “Avoid travel on and under slopes steeper than about 30 degrees that face north through east to southeast. You can trigger avalanches large enough to bury you in these areas. You can find safer riding in lower angle and wind-sheltered terrain.”