The Chapman Hill Ski Area is scheduled to open this weekend to skiers and snowboarders, the earliest the in-town slope has opened in recent years.
The hill will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, according to a release from the city. Chapman Hill will be closed throughout next week and will reopen Saturday, Dec. 22, with holiday hours.
There will also be a splitboard demo event at Chapman Hill from 6-8 p.m. Saturday. The event is hosted by Backcountry Experience and will feature boards from Weston Backcountry, a company out of Minturn. There will be a 30-minute touring clinic with Jack Klim of Kling Mountain Guides, and Backcountry Experience will provide soup and hot chocolate for participants.
Also on hand will be Ben Hilley of Weston Snowboards and a special appearance from Weston team rider Josh Jesperson, who has the record for summiting all of Colorado’s fourteeners and splitboarding down in 138 days.
“We teach Splitboard 101 classes across the U.S. and have over 50 scheduled this season,” Hilley said. “This Chapman Hill demo is the first dedicated splitboard demo of its kind in Durango. Having knowledgeable team riders like Josh gives us the ability to share that knowledge with the general public and create a safer, more educated backcountry community. Having guys like him in our family is a huge blessing.”
Splitboarding has boomed in popularity as technology has continued to evolve and make the backcountry more accessible for snowboarders. Weston Snowboards has won numerous awards for its boards.
“It really is amazing to see where the sport has gone in just a few short years,” Hilley said. “It is a really exciting time to be in the industry. There are a lot of smaller boutique brands like ours pushing innovation, not just the big names in snowboarding.
“Because of that, you are starting to see a lot of creativity in design, and the technology is almost hard to keep up with. Just this season we started producing splitboards with whole less bases, which means we don’t drill all the way through the boards to mount the connections. This is brand new technology you wouldn’t see two years ago, now it’s almost an industry standard.”
After this weekend, Chapman Hill will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 22-23, and from noon to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve. The hill will be closed Christmas Day. The slope will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 26-30. New Year’s Eve hours are from noon to 4 p.m. The hill is closed New Year’s Day.
The hill will reopen after the new year from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 2-6. Regular hours – from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends – will start Jan. 7.
Children 3-and-under can ski for free. Four- to 5-year-olds can ride for $5; 6- to 17-year-olds can get a lift to the top of Chapman Hill for $12. Adults – ages 18 to 59 – can get tickets for $15. Anyone over 60 can ride for $5.50. Chapman Hill will also rent tubes for $15.
City workers have blown snow on Chapman Hill for about three weeks, said Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz. Cold temperatures and early snowfall in the region have made for good conditions on the town-owned ski slope.