Hesperus Ski Area is welcoming skiers and snowboarders with more than twice the amount of snow than at this time last year.
Last season, Hesperus opened Dec. 28, and it reported an 18-inch base at the end of December. But just a week after its Dec. 23 opening day this year, Hesperus announced a 45-inch base.
Entering his 27th year at the helm, owner Jim Pitcher said that Christmastime is the business’ busiest period. He said one of the advantages of Hesperus over other area ski spots is that it has open terrain.
“It’s not as crowded,” he said. “Go to Purgatory today, and there will be 160 passenger buses out there,” he added, chuckling.
While Hesperus Ski Area cannot compete with the size and style of resorts like Telluride or Purgatory, Pitcher emphasized the family aspect of the small ski area between Mancos and Durango, saying that it is a great place to learn. mentioning Snow Katz Kidz, a five-week program beginning Jan. 11 that teaches kids ages 5-15 to ski or snowboard.
Dolores resident Brad Pierce grew up in Cortez but made his first trip to Hesperus on Wednesday, skiing while his daughter, Regan, and her friend, Sydney Smith, snowboarded.
They too cited the lack of traffic on the slopes as a draw, and the girls added that they were able to go at their own pace and learn without worrying about a mass of skiers or snowboarders rushing down behind them.
But the most significant perk of Hesperus?
“It’s the least expensive,” said Pitcher.
While a one-day lift ticket for an adult costs $80 at Purgatory and $114 at Telluride during the regular season, Hesperus charges $41 for a full-day adult lift ticket.
The recently opened lift runs daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ,and Hesperus’ night skiing begins Jan. 4.