Originally Posted by ATskier
It's also interesting that they cite lack of snow for both, but Wolf creek recieves record snowfall year after year.
Neither area recieves much snow - the geography of the mountains in Colorado and odd weather patterns result in even physically nearby areas recieving drasticly different amounts of snow. Compare snowpacks/snowfall in the town of Breckenridge to the town of Fairplay, they are very nearly the same altitude (9950 vs 9896), and are only about 25 miles apart (geographically, driving distance is a little longer). You could never open a ski area on the mountains immediately next to Fairplay - not anywhere close to enough snow, but Breckenridge does just fine. (Before anyone starts saying "yeah you could, go west or north a little," consider my statement "immedietely next to;" the runs in Breck are immedietely next to the town - there's no way you could ever even try to do that in Fairplay.)
I think what happens with Wolf Creek is that the weather patterns hit them with lots of warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico - when that collides with cold fronts coming from the north west, the systems stall right there on Wolf Creek pass and just dump feet at a time. But these conditions tend to be *very* localized. When the same situation happens in Colorado Springs (normally the result of a low-pressure system over Albuquerque in an El Nino year) we get feet of snow. But, comparing the typical snowfall as a result of such a storm between two nearby mountain towns - there's often a world of difference; as an example, the last three times this type of storm occured, Woodland Park (elev 8,500 ft) recieved about 3 feet of snow and Divide (elev 9,300 ft only 5 miles west and on the *same* side (east) of the summit of Ute Pass) got 5 to 8 inches - and that's very normal. Wolf Creek pass just gets these localized weather conditions every single winter (damn them and their wonderful snow that's so damn inconvenient to get to).
Basically, I'm sure that anyone who has lived in Colorado for some time can point to very regular and very drastic differences in normal snowfall between locations that are geographically quite close to each other (and, if they think about it long enough, even locations that have similar altitudes and orientations (i.e. same elevation & same side of same mountain range - just a few miles in X direction)).
I learned to ski at Conquistador when I was 11 years old. I had a blast, and it's still some of my very best memories of skiing - but the snow cover? It was awful, they opened late, had to close early, and one would regularly see grass under the snow even in Jan/Feb.