As tempting as it might seem, no, you can’t trek up Purgatory Resort’s ski trails and have the slopes all to yourself.
In a statement issued Saturday by resort officials, Purgatory Resort asks the public refrain from all uphill access while the ski area is closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Purgatory leases its land from the U.S. Forest Service through a special-use permit, and as part of the resort’s operating plan, backcountry travel is allowed only on the backside of the mountain, the statement reads.
Backcountry skiers and snowboarders, snowmobilers and other over-the-snow motorized vehicles are not allowed on the front side of Purgatory. Sledding and tubing is also prohibited on ski trails.
Officials added Purgatory is not maintaining ski terrain during the closure.
“If folks are skiing in a closed resort area, conditions are more like backcountry skiing,” James Simino, Columbine District ranger for the Forest Service, said in a statement. “The emergency services people are accustomed to when the resort is open are not readily available.”
It’s also a matter of safety, officials say. Purgatory Ski Patrol is not on duty. Mercy Medical Clinic located at the base of the mountain is closed. And rogue skiers create a hazard for resort employees still at work.
“Crews are still on the mountain operating heavy equipment, breaking down terrain parks and removing safety markings, seven days a week,” Dave Rathbun, general manager of Purgatory Resort, said in a statement.
Purgatory closed March 15 after Gov. Jared Polis shut down all Colorado’s ski resorts in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The closure was extended last week until April 6.
“We encourage the public to get out and enjoy some fresh air, but to also follow the rules and use good judgment around snow conditions and safety,” Rathbun said.
The pickings are getting slim for places to ski around Durango. This weekend, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office closed all recreating on public lands in San Juan County. Silverton Mountain is closed.
Hesperus Ski Area west of Durango is open until April 15 for uphill access, which requires a season pass.