Change of plans: Purgatory Resort will open for season on Saturday

Officials say snowmaking capacity has been more than doubled this season

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON — Winter sports enthusiasts in San Juan County who are eager to get back on the slopes will have the chance to do exactly that this weekend when the Purgatory Resort north of Durango, Colorado, opens for the season.

Resort officials reversed course suddenly Thursday afternoon and moved opening day back to the original date, Saturday, Nov. 20. They announced earlier this week the opening had been pushed back to Sunday, Nov. 21, but on Thursday said a successful day of snowmaking made the Saturday opening possible.

"In a happy turn of events, Purgatory will revert to the original Opening Day schedule on Saturday, November 20th after another successful night of snowmaking," spokesperson Theresa Blake Graven said via email Thursday. "After making the difficult decision to delay opening until Sunday, overnight temperatures came in colder and drier than forecasted and snowmaking was able to produce more than expected."

Snowmaking operations were stalled by warmer-than-normal temperatures, but resort officials said work ramped up this week, and that will enable the resort to open as originally planned.

"We're making the best of early-season conditions," Dave Rathbun, Purgatory's general manager, stated in a news release. "This week, Mother Nature delivered the right combination of sustained cold temperatures and low humidity for consistent snowmaking. We were able to blow snow for 16 hours (Tuesday) night, and the forecast is in our favor. We will continue making snow every chance we can through the holiday week.

With new snowmaking equipment on hand, the Purgatory Resort north of Durango, Colorado, opens for the season this weekend.

According to the news release, Purgatory officials have invested more than $2 million this season in capital improvements, more than doubling the snowmaking capacity.

The resort has some special features planned for Saturday's opening. The first 100 skiers and snowboarders in line for the first chair will receive complimentary pancakes at 8 a.m. The resort also plans to reopen the Inferno Mountain Coaster for opening day, while the Snow Coaster Tubing Hill will reopen for the holiday season.

Visit purgatory.ski for lift ticket information or call 970-247-9000.

Note: An earlier version of this story stated the ski resort would open Sunday. The resort changed its plans Thursday afternoon and this story was updated to reflect the new date.

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