Tyler Jasmer was stoked. It was the day before Purgatory Resort opened Saturday, and he and his buddies had a plan to be first on the slopes: camp in the lift line.
"This is a first time, but it's going to be a tradition," Jasmer said.
About three dozen people waited behind Jasmer and his friends Saturday morning at the base of Purgatory for a lift to the top of the mountain, the first time such a trip was possible on opening day for at least three years.
Dave Rathbun, general manager, said although he's new to the resort, he thinks this is one of Purgatory's best opening days ever. Eighteen inches of snow packed seven trails that formed a path from top to bottom, including the Columbine beginners run, which was open for the first time ever on opening day.
"It feels like a great morning, and it's quite a mix of customers," Rathbun said. "We had everything from our hardcore park riders and I saw half a dozen families with kids renting skis."
At least one of those hardcore park riders also stood at the front of the line waiting for a lift to the top. His name is Romeo Wilson, a 9-year-old, nationally ranked park skier. Romeo was up on the mountain the night before opening day and asked his father if he could stay with Jasmer and his friends camping in the lift line. But his father, Gabriel Wilson, said no.
That doesn't mean the younger Wilson was any less excited for the day. Saturday marked the beginning of Wilson's seventh season - he's been skiing since he was 3 years old, his father said. And Romeo has big plans for this year: land a backflip, take regionals and hopefully, do the same at nationals.
Romeo had a great opportunity to start practicing Saturday at Purgatory. Cold, dry nights have made for great snowmaking conditions, Rathbun said. New snowmaking machines use less energy to turn water into ice crystals, making it easier for the mountain to make more snow. While there hasn't been much natural snow in the region, unlike other parts of Colorado, Rathbun said the snowmaking teams did a good job getting the mountain ready for opening day.
"You gotta take what Mother Nature gives you," Rathbun said. "We're open now, and that's what's important."
Purgatory is now open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until mid-April.