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CASPER MOUNTAIN — With a brand new, $5 million lodge to welcome patrons, this winter’s Hogadon Ski Area opening may have been one of its most anticipated. It was also one of the latest, with warm December weather keeping the slopes closed until Tuesday.

“It’s just been unseasonably warm this whole month of December and November,” said Hogadon manager Chris Smith. “We normally like to get open by the first of December.”

But even with just a single run open, those who trekked up the mountain the day after Christmas to ski in sub-freezing temperatures weren’t complaining.

Bob Garberg learned to ski at Hogadon when he was just five years old. He hopes to bring his granddaughter to ski here next year. But on Tuesday, he was alone, having just finished a few runs along Boomerang, the intermediate slope that snow-making equipment had allowed to open this week.

“It’s good exercise,” Garberg said. “It gives you something to do in the winter in Wyoming instead of sitting around the house.”

Marci Durtsche said she plans to take advantage of the ski school for her 8-year-old son Kade, who wants to learn to snowboard.

“I’ve taught all four of my boys how to ski here on Hogadon,” Durtsche said.

A fifth-grade teacher, Durtsche also brings students up to Hogadon for lessons, some of whom have never been on the mountain before.

The opportunity for more Natrona County School District students to participate in physical education classes at Hogadon helped win over some Casper City Council members who were skeptical about the city spending $5.3 million to build the lodge.

Smith said the beginner’s area and terrain park will be open Wednesday morning.

He said the Hogadon crew had been making snow whenever the temperature allowed starting in November, but that the ski area still needed another roughly 8 inches of snow to open the runs that snow-making equipment do not reach.

While November brought several feet of snow, Smith said much of that snow melted in December. Crews have worked to pack down what snow has fallen this month to slow melting and create a base.

But he said under the circumstances, things were going well.

“The skiing’s good,” he said.

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