Monarch is open!

Local skiers and riders get the first chair of the year Friday at Monarch Mountain. From left are Salida High School students Ellis Haas, Jackson Karls, Agulin Brunel and Ethan NeJame Zeiset.

Monarch Mountain kicked off its 80th season Nov. 1 by opening three weeks earlier than originally planned.

The Nov. 1 opening was the earliest Monarch has spun its lifts in 50 years, and skiers and riders even had pockets of powder to play in after the ski area received 31 inches of snow in the last week.

“We’re really excited about the new snow and getting the ski area open,” Kathryn Wadsworth, Monarch event coordinator, said.

“My mind is just blown,” Salidan Sean Highland said about skiing on Nov. 1. “I thought I had three more weeks to stretch; I’m a little sore.”

The ski area also had 22 runs open, which was the most in Colorado at this point in the season. Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Loveland, Eldora, Winter Park and Wolf Creek are also open.

“I’m amazed how much of the mountain is open, but I’m just happy to be here,” Highland said.

The 22 open runs include 13 of the mountain’s 15 green runs, seven blue runs and even a pair of blacks: Gunbarrel and Upper Tango.

“I’m having a blast,” Highland said. “It’s good to see all of the familiar faces; Monarch has that family feel, which is different than any mountain I’ve ever ridden.”

Monarch also hosted a job fair Saturday, working to fill a final few positions to get the mountain ready to open seven days a week.

“Monarch hosts annual job fairs to attract seasonal workers to be part of the Monarch family,” Wadsworth said, adding that the mountain was still looking for people for its lift and food and beverage departments.

Visitors also noticed the renovations Monarch made during the off-season. Monarch added chairs and tables to the tunnel area, new carpet near the fireplace and created a new room – the Monarch Room – which will be used for special programs and events.

“All these renovations look amazing,” Highland said. “It’s more inviting – now there’s actually a place to hang out (in the tunnel area).”

Monarch will reopen Friday for the weekend.

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