Sure, opening day was Saturday. But with one lift open, servicing one intermediate run, Halloween Tuesday was the perfect day to visit Colorado's Keystone Resort for my maiden runs of the 2000-2001 season.
The first thing we noticed as we neared Keystone's Argentine Lift was the crane-supported gondola swaying in the early-morning wind. This was the doing of Lewis and Floorwax¿morning-drive DJs at Denver's "The Fox" radio station¿who are sponsoring their own version of CBS's Survivor contest.
Five locals had been picked to live in the 16-square-foot gondola for a month, with the final survivor taking home a $20,000 winner's check. The gondola was creating quite a stir, as skiers waiting in the short line at the chairlift's base were constantly looking up to catch a glimpse of the goings-on 30 feet off the ground.
I clicked into my skis and jumped into the Argentine line. After a few minutes of gawking at the survivors and incorrectly answering Trivial Pursuit questions tossed at me by a Keystone lift operator, I was whisked away toward the top of Haywood, Keystone's mile-long, snow-covered trail.
At the top, I was greeted once again by a lift op, this one offering candy from her jack-o'-lantern. With a tasty Tootsie-Roll and a caramel down the chute, I was ready for the best early-season skiing Colorado had to offer.
The mostly man-made snow was about what I expected: reasonably deep in some spots and nearly bare in others. Nonetheless, it was great to get out and feel winter air blowing in my face as I sped down the slope. I was even able to get in a few quick turns despite ski patrollers watching for speeders like traffic cops.
All in all, the conditions and volume were impressive for so early in the season and with more snow forecast for later this week and more open terrain on the horizon, things at Keystone can only get better.