My first day of the season was over this past Thanksgiving weekend. I was scared there may be crowds but I was pleasantly surprised.
The mountains received a bunch of good snow earlier in the week. By Friday, though, most new stuff was gone from the front of the mountain. Some of the blues off of Montezuma Express had some ungroomed powder with bumps here and there.
My secret to finding some snow in the heavily traveled areas of the mountain is to look for the blues with “unmarked obstacles” signs. This usually translates into “bumps because we’re making snow on this trail” and that’s what I like. Even if it’s man made, soft snow on small moguls are a great way to ease into the season.
Much of the front is open. Mostly greens like Schoolmarm that fork off to some blues. Most of the fun blues at River Run aren’t top-to-bottom yet (they snake back to Spring Dipper) but there will be big bumps out there in no time.
The A51 terrain park is open and you’ll see much of the younger crowd headed over there.
By in large, the day was consistent in that it was crowded but not terribly given only about 60% of the mountain was open. We arrived at about 9:30 and the main River Run lot was already full. We were diverted to the Brown Lot which worked out well (it can actually put you closer to the mountain if you’re lucky). My only gripe with that lot is having to cross Montezuma Road with no cross walk at a four-way intersection.
At the gondola, the line was completely full. I always recommend your first ride up at Keystone to be on the Summit Express if you can handle the brisk morning air. Having waited in the gondola line for about 20 minutes it became fairly clear that this was most out-of-state vacationers last day for this trip. There were many more 3-day pass holders than season pass holders headed up.
On the mountain, there were a few key “rush hour” moments at Montezuma Express and Summit Express which is to be expected. After lunch time, everything settled down to pre-season line levels.
The Outback Opens
We skipped skiing the Outback but noted that the Outpost Gondola was running. This is great news for this point in the season. I imagine a lot of folks had a nice weekend playing in the fresh snow from earlier in the week. While Mozart likely won’t be open for another couple weeks, it’s nice to see the season already has great potential. We’ll check out the Outback soon.
All in all, I’m pleased with the beginning of the season and glad we went up. I was hesitant to waste time on pre-season conditions after being so disappointed last year. But, we had a great time at Keystone.