WINTER PARK - The sun was shining and the crowd was pumped for the opening day of Mary Jane and the die-hards who skipped work were on the hunt for some fresh tracks through the powder.
Richard Jeffrey, Patrick Walsh, DJ Morrissey, Kayla Mihalcin, Jeffery Davis, and Lucas Townsend were the lucky six who claimed the first chair on the Super Gauge Express and the first tracks down the Jane side of Winter Park Resort on Thursday morning.
Eighteen inches of snow in the past six days helped the resort to open 280 acres of skiable terrain serviced by 15 lifts. The opening of Mary Jane more than doubled the open terrain at the resort with more runs being opened as conditions allow.
Winter Park Resort is now tied for second with Eldora for the resorts in Colorado with the most snow. Crested Butte is in first place with a 30 inch mid-mountain snow depth, according to coloradoski.com.
The Mayor of Mary Jane and the lovely Lady Mary, graced the mountain with their presence for the opening day celebration and were seen ripping up the fresh powder that was nearly knee deep in places.
I myself was lucky enough to take the morning off work to stake my claim on some fresh. The powder was a little heavy and my legs were burning after a few runs down Sterling Way and Rainbow Cut as I knocked the rust off the alpine skis, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second of my first experience at The Jane.
While riding the Super Gauge Express, I had a chance to chat with one of the die-hards on the slopes who caught the opening day at Vail as well as Mary Jane. Mark Librande, of Loveland, has been lucky enough to make it out to Copper and Winter Park, on top of snagging two opening-day events. That's a die-hard in my book.
Librande mentioned that his wife commented that he was crazy for driving here for the opening day; however, I would think he would be crazy not to drive up here to be a part of the opening day festivities.
Speaking of festivities, Hunker Down will be playing above the Club Car at the Mary Jane base on Friday night, with food and drink specials going on all weekend, and 20 percent off all Mary Jane fleece, hoodies, T-shirts, and baseball caps. And you might be able to glimpse good ol' Saint Nick and the What the Dickens Carolers if you cruise the Winter Park Resort Village.
Snow is in the forecast for the weekend with a 50 percent chance for Friday and Friday night, 40 percent chance of snow for Saturday and 30 percent for Saturday night, with a slight chance of snow for Sunday and continuing into next week.
As it currently stands, our winter season is faring better than originally anticipated, which is a very welcome surprise for the resort and the guys looking to get into the backcountry.
A reminder to those seeking some pow in the woods, avalanche danger was dropped from considerable to moderate today by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center for the Front Range, so remember to be careful and to take the safe line. Avalanche conditions could trend upward with the incoming storm this weekend.
While CAIC lowered the avalanche danger level, the snowpack remains sensitive where there are wind loaded slabs, especially where the slabs rest on top of old October snow, which turned into a weak foundation. CAIC recommends staying clear of these areas that are steeper than 30 degrees.
You can check on the avalanche conditions across the state by visiting avalanche.state.co.us.
For those of you who couldn't make it up for the opening day, thanks for letting us all rip it up for you, and know we didn't save you any powder. Maybe the storm that is moving in over the weekend will drop some more freshies for you slackers ... or should I say "responsible people?"