Lots of vertical, decent snow
Expensive lift ticket, lots of people
Yesterday marked the first turns of my 2008/2009 season. And for the first time ever, I started my ski season out West instead of back home in the Midwest. We decided on Keystone because the website said they had more lifts open. Since it would probably be busy--everyone else like us wanting to get out for early season turns--we thought more lfits would mean less lift lines. Well, we were wrong. High winds closed the gonola, leaving only a single chair. There was no organization to the lift lines, either, so it was just a chaotic mess. And at times, there were only two people on a chair when there should of been four. That would of helped move things a long.
The weather wasn't very helpful for skiing either. The winds were high, and the temps were cold. At the top of the mountain, the weather was the worst, but as soon as you got about mid-mountain, the winds weren't so bad.
The snow was good most of the time on the mountain, as well. Obviously mostly man-made, but it was loose and soft most of the time. The only time the snow was terrible was at the very bottom of the run...wind and people scrapping turns to slow down for the lift left it an icy, dangerous mess.
The temporary park setup was pretty good, with tons of features. It was also semented off so you wouldn't have anybody else except the people who wanted to be there. There were some amazing riders there too that day.
Keystone staff were all over the mountain all day making sure that people were skiing in control. This must of been for more reasons than just being busy. We saw at least 5 people get hauled down by ski patrol over the course of the day.
Lift tickets were spendy for only one real one ($45). Although Keystone is claiming three runs, they only have one long run from the summit open, a bunny hill at the top, and the run that the park is in (which ends up connecting with the main run).
Overall, it was a cold, busy, day. But it was a great start to the season, with lots of veritical feet, good snow, and good friends.