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Colorado is Officially Open for the 2016-2017 Winter Season

It's about time the snowflakes started falling!

By: Grant Whitty + Save to a List

This time of year is always exciting in the ski industry, more so in Colorado. In late fall we often have a handful of ski film premieres, like Level 1's Pleasure and Teton Gravity Research's Tight Loose, both incredible films in my opinion. A few weeks after, the snow begins to fall in the high-country and then the lifts begin to turn. 

On Friday, Colorado officially opened for the 2016-2017 winter season. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area are always neck and neck when it comes to be the first to open for the season. This year Arapahoe Basin took the honor of opening up ski season. 

Unfortunately I had to skip out on the opening day festivities on Friday, as I am a student at Colorado State University. Though it pains me to be considered a weekend warrior, right now it is my only option to get out and do what I love. If that means fighting the crowds and waking up exceptionally early, then by all means that's what I need to do. 

On Saturday I did just that. I woke up at 4:00am, got my gear together and was on the interstate just before 5:00am. There were very few people on the road this early on a Saturday, so few that I made it from Fort Collins to Summit County in about an hour and forty-five minutes. Normally this drive take about two and a half to three hours depending on traffic. 

It was still very much dark by the time I cruised through Eisenhower Tunnel. As I came down into the town of Dillon, I found a pull-off along the side of Lake Dillon to eat my breakfast, cheap day-old bagels and a brick of cream cheese. Soon dawn broke and I and snagged my camera and headed down to the shore of the lake. The air was crisp, the peaks were covered in a light dusting of snow, and the only sound was that of the waves on the shore. 

Alpenglow on the peaks of Ten Mile Range, from the shores of Lake Dillon, Dillon, Colo.

After a few moments of peace with the mountains. I went back up to the car and began driving towards Arapahoe Basin. By the time I entered the parking lot there were already a few rows of cars. It was about 8:00am at the time. I threw on my snow pants and jacket, and buckled up my boots. I got in line for a few minutes before lifts began to spin--the second day of the 2016-2017 and my first day. The stoke level was high among everyone in line.

As I reached the top of the lift the sun was hitting the peak in front of me. A got off the lift and began to make my first few rusty turns of the season. Soon I was feeling good and really carving into my turns. I hot-lapped for about six or seven runs until the line got too long, almost an hour wait. Keep in mind that is the only run and only chair lift open right now in the U.S.

After a few nice runs to myself, I skied over to the small park that the park crew set up. The lighting was perfect and I began firing away towards my first skiing photographs of the season. It was great to meet some new people and see some old friends I haven't seen all summer. After a few hours of shooting and hanging out in the park I skied down to the base and headed home. It was a solid day of skiing and photography to say the least. 

Some say it isn't worth it to go so early in the season because of the lines and bad conditions. I just don't understand. Skiing is skiing, if I can go skiing, I am going to go skiing. Sure, a deep pow day in the Colorado backcountry is incredible don't get me wrong. There is just something about skiing that I can't get away from, regardless of the conditions. I guess those kinds of people will just be missing opportunities to stack up on more G.N.A.R. points. While they're sleeping, I guess I'll just be cooking breakfast in the lift line. 

Happy Opening Weekend!


Photos from the day:

Cole Pates hikes to the top of the park at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Colo. on Oct. 22, 2016

Lupe Hagaerty sliding into home base at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Colo. on Oct. 22, 2016

The legs and skis of Condor O'Brian as he hikes to the top of the park at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Colo. on Oct. 22, 2016

Sam Zahner tail taps the end of the double-kink rail at Arapahoe Basin, Colo. on Oct. 22, 2016.

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