James and Tonia Coleman opening day 2016 at Purgatory Resort. Courtesy photo
DURANGO, Colo. – With more snow in the forecast this week, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy a unique experience Saturday, Nov. 18 at Purgatory Resort. Ski and mountain bike on the same day, at the same resort.
Purgatory Resort opens for ski season Saturday, Nov. 18 with Lifts 1 and 2 operating 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with access to the trails Westfork and El Diablo, PLUS Lift 4 will provide lift-served mountain biking, weather permitting. The forecast calls for 6 inches of snow at Purgatory this week, plus cold temperatures, which allow mountain crews to make additional snow.
“We’re excited to kick off the ski season, and what a better way to celebrate than to offer a unique Colorado mountain experience,” said Colin McBeath, general manager at Purgatory Resort. “We wanted to make it a fun weekend to start off the ski season by offering up two favorite activities at the resort – skiing and mountain biking!”
Skiers and snowboarders will upload and download on the high-speed six-person Lift 1, and will have access to 683 vertical feet of skiable terrain under Lift 2. Lifts 1 and 2 will turn 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily starting Saturday. Lift 4 will provide lift-served mountain biking Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., weather permitting, with access to the Divinity downhill flow trail, Diggler trail, and portions of the World’s Course. The mountain bike chairlift may open again Friday through Sunday, Nov. 24-26 for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, conditions permitting.
Discounted lift tickets are available at the Ticket Window, allowing access to both activities – the mountain bike uplift and skiing. Lift ticket prices are $49 adults, $39 teens, $29 kids, and $39 seniors. Kids 7 and under, 4th graders and those 80+ ski free everyday at Purgatory.
Purgatory Resort nearly doubled its snowmaking capacity on the front-side of the mountain with new pipe, access to electricity, and additional energy efficient snow guns and fans. Crews have been boosting snowmaking capacity on the upper portion of the front-side, including the top of Lift 1, the mid-way loading zone on Lift 6, and the Lift 2 area to help produce a great skiable product especially during early season. The new snowmaking equipment improves Purgatory’s ability to make snow and open the resort more efficiently.
“With Purgatory’s advanced snowmaking system and the upgrades we’ve made to it this year, we’re able to make more snow during a shorter amount of time, which ultimately allows us to open the mountain earlier and maintain our solid base throughout the spring,” McBeath said. “We’ll continue opening more and more terrain as soon as we can.”
On Saturday, the Powderhouse on-mountain bar and restaurant will feature live music, and Purgy’s Slopeside restaurant will offer Coors giveaways along with live music by the Outskirts for après ski.
What’s new this year!
Coming in 2018, Purgatory will feature a new mountain coaster that will be accessible right from the base area. Located just north of the Twilight Lift 4, the coaster will operate during both winter and summer seasons. The mountain coaster will be 4,000 feet in length with a 300 foot-vertical, and will feature nine switchbacks and one loop, giving guests another fun activity snow or shine. Construction work has already begun on the mountain coaster project and it’s expected to open in 2018.
Purgatory added new intermediate and expert trails on the back- and front-sides of the mountain. including new gladed tree skiing terrain. The front-side new trail names are Monkey Brains, Tribulation, Brimstone, and Sheol, which follow Purgatory’s theme derived from Dante’s Divine Comedy. A new trail will open this winter, named “Major Fun,” after long-time employee Major LeFebvre on the back-side in the “Legends” section of the mountain. The triple chairlift, Needles Lift 6 will offer a new mid-way loading zone that provides an easier way to access terrain for ski teams, terrain park users, and skiers/riders who want to make laps on the upper half of the mountain. A new magic carpet lift will open in the Columbine beginner area, offering beginners an easier way to learn the sport.
These projects are part of a $15 million multi-mountain capital improvement plan for five resorts during the 2017/2018 season that was announced earlier this year by resort officials with the largest ski area collective in the Southwest. The five mountains include: Purgatory Resort, Arizona Snowbowl, Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort, Pajarito Mountain, Hesperus Ski Area, and Colorado’s largest snowcat skiing operation, Purgatory Snowcat Adventures. The Southwest’s largest ski area collective has invested a grand total of $35 million over three consecutive seasons to make improvements to the guest experience, enhancements to the mountains, and to provide something new and exciting for locals and visitors alike.
Hesperus Ski Area, 11 miles west of Durango, is scheduled to open Dec. 15.