The first runs of the 2017-18 ski season were made Sunday at Silverton Mountain, North America’s highest altitude ski areas with a peak of 13,487 feet.
According to a news release, a snow system that passed through the San Juan Mountains over the weekend dropped just enough snow to open the upper reaches of Silverton Mountain.
“The patrollers could not resist the opportunity to ride the chairlift today to make some turns on the upper mountain as they celebrated the start of the season at Silverton Mountain,” the news release said.
Silverton Mountain co-owner Jen Brill said most of the snow was concentrated to the alpine areas of the mountain.
“We just do it to keep people stoked for winter,” Brill said. “Whenever there’s enough snow, we like to check it out firsthand.”
Andrew Lyons, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said elevations above 10,000 feet have received anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of snow over the past few days.
Lyons said another stormy pattern is set to hit the region all this week, which brings the potential of rain rather than snow because of warmer temperatures.
“But we’re definitely starting to transition in the season,” Lyons said.
Silverton Mountain is slated to open in December, but according to the news release, that date could be pushed up if snow keeps accumulating. The ski area has opened as early as August in previous years, it said.
The photos included in Silverton Mountain’s news release came with the footnote, “THIS IS NOT A JOKE, the photos are real.”
Purgatory Resort, too, got in on the anticipation of ski season starting. On Sunday, Purgatory sent a tweet out with the snowcapped Engineer Mountain in the background, a nearly 13,000-foot peak that is not part of the ski resort.
“On this third day of autumn, we welcome you to the first snow of the season. Purgatory opens 11/18/17!”
In Flagstaff, Arizona, Snowbowl began making snow early Sunday morning, making it the first in the country to make snow.
“The race to become the first ski area in the U.S. is fueled by the resort that can make snow first. This contest is historically duked out between Colorado ski areas Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin. This year, Snowbowl beat them both,” according to a news release.
James Coleman, who owns Purgatory, also owns Arizona Snowbowl. That resort plans to open Nov. 10.