Saturday, December 1, 2007

durango mountain resort

Eager skiers and snowboarders will have to wait until later today to know when they can make their first turns of the 2007-08 season at Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort. Whenever they arrive, they'll find a few changes.

Construction of the Peregrine Point project of 24 townhomes continues Wednesday, taking the place of a former skier parking area next to Purgatory Village at Durango Mountain Resort. The project will have underground parking and all units will have decks, said Kurt Geary, president of Peregrine Builders.Purgatory's annual opening Benefit Day was originally scheduled for today, but a lack of early-season snow forced management to delay the opening for at least one more day. General Manager Hank Thiess said he hoped opening day could happen Sunday, but he had to wait to see how much snow the current storm drops.

Thiess and resort spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said they intended to make the announcement by Friday evening, but then had to extend the wait another day to see how the storm panned out.

"There just wasn't enough coverage up top for us to make a decision one way or the other," Kasten said late Friday afternoon. The current storm is predicted to drop between 19 and 30 inches in the mountains of Southwest Colorado, but most of that was expected to fall Friday night and Saturday morning.

Purgatory regulars may feel a bit disoriented when they arrive for the first day of the season. During an offseason that saw more construction and renovation than any year since it opened in 1965, the resort has undergone tremendous change since local skiers made their final runs last April.

Thiess said that despite the addition of townhomes and Purgatory Lodge along with the removal of the former pay-to-park lot, the resort gained a few parking spaces by re-grading and consolidating the two upper parking lots. Paid parking is now at the west end of the upper lot nearest the plaza complex.

Another new feature is a skier drop-off area that is even with the plaza so skiers no longer have to climb an often-icy set of stairs between the lot and the plaza.

The 2007-08 season will also be the last for Purgy's, the base area bar and restaurant that will be torn down in April to make way for - what else - Purgy's in the new Purgatory Lodge. The new bar is being built directly behind the current Purgy's. Another restaurant, the Caf`E9 de los Pinos at the top of Chair 5, has been replaced by the Backside Bistro. Purgatory's Backside, home to much of the mountain's expert terrain, typically opens several weeks after opening day unless Purgatory receives substantial snowfall.

Tickets for Benefit Day are $15 with proceeds going to Durango Nature Studies and the Durango Winter Sports Foundation. Thiess said if Purgatory is unable to open Sunday, Benefit Day will be held Dec. 8
National Weather Service is calling for up to 5 feet of snow in the higher elevations of the San Juan Mountains this weekend.

Between 1 and 3 feet of snow will fall, forecasters say, and southwest-facing slopes could see 5 feet of snow.

"This would be a gift from heaven," said Crested Butte ski resort spokeswoman April Prout. "We could get anything from 5 to 10 inches to 5 feet, depending on where it hangs up."

That storm was spreading up into the central and northern mountains of the state Friday, bringing fresh powder to ski slopes, in more moderate amounts.

By Saturday morning, new snow depths in the mountains west of the Continental divide will be between 4 and 7 inches, according to the weather service.


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saw partly sunny skies Friday, with high temperatures in the mid-30s.
On Friday night, there was a 20 percent chance of snow showers in the Denver area, with mostly cloudy skies and a low temperature of 25.

Snow showers in the Denver area early Saturday are expected to turn to rain late in the morning as temperatures climb and top out in the lower 50s for the day.

Sunday in Denver will be mostly sunny and calm, with a high temperature near 51 degrees, the weather service said


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