At 10,200′ elevation Leadville, CO has plenty of crisp nights. In the past few days, overnight temperatures have dropped below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, creating ideal conditions for making snow, something that Colorado Mountain College students are getting a lot of practice in. In fact, ski area operations students and faculty have made enough snow to cover the Dutch Henry Hill, which as of October 17, 2018 is the first terrain park in Colorado open for the 2018/2019 ski season.
Dutch Henry Hill is on the north edge of campus, just off Highway 24 in Leadville. Ski area operations students learn and practice operating college snowmaking equipment on the hill where the Cloud City Ski Club, a local youth ski team, trains. This year, CMC students got a jump start on the curriculum — making snow, grooming, and building the terrain park — and young ski racers on the Cloud City Ski team can start training earlier than usual.
“It may not be the first park in the country to open but it is in Colorado,” says Brian Rosser, Associate Professor of Ski Area Operations, “Arapahoe Basin is planning to open on Friday, October 19 and Loveland will be open on Saturday the 20th. Wolf Creek is already open but it does not have a defined terrain park.”
Leadville, CO receives an average of 156 inches of snow and 247 sunny days each year. The high-altitude campus is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and less than an hour from 5 major ski resorts. Students have access to college-owned, state-of-the-art equipment, like snow groomers, excavators, snowmobiles and snowmaking machines. They learn to operate and maintain these machines as part of the ski area operations curriculum.
For over 30 years, ski area operations alumni from Colorado Mountain College have helped shape the ski and snowboard industry worldwide. The curriculum, designed and taught by industry professionals, blends technical skills and hands-on training with required on-mountain internships.
Students prepare for careers in grooming, lift maintenance, ski area management and design, mountain operations and risk/safety management. In addition to an Associate of Applied Science: Ski Area Operations degree, students have the option to develop a specialty and earn certificates in ropeway maintenance technician, ski patrol operations, and slope and trail maintenance.