Eldora Mountain Resort is among the windiest in the state, according to weather and ski resort officials, and it's in the peak of its gusty season with several lift closures in the past week.
Also vying for the "windiest resort" title is Loveland Ski Area, said Jennifer Rudolph, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA, a nonprofit trade association that represents 26 Colorado ski resorts.
"It's because they're right on the Continental Divide," Rudolph said.
Now is Eldora's windiest time of the ski season, resort spokesman Rob Linde said. Historically, he said, late December and January bring the biggest gusts to the Boulder County ski hill, situated 21 miles west of Boulder on Colo. 119.
Weather experts said Eldora and Loveland get more and stronger wind than other Rocky Mountain ski resorts because they're east of the Continental Divide, where gusts coming from the west dip over the summit and rush down the slope.
"Lately, there have been some pretty strong storms that move in and settle on the divide, and we will get down-sloping winds," Linde said
So far this season, Eldora has shut down lifts because of wind on at least five days, Linde said.
Of Eldora's 12 lifts, the ones most often halted because of high-wind concerns are Cannonball, Challenge, Indian Peaks and Corona, Linde said. Those lifts lead to the top of the ski area's peaks and to the more difficult runs.
Last season, on Dec.
Despite some skiers' harrowing reports of rocking chairlifts, Linde said, "We monitor it very closely."
"Safety is our No. 1 concern," he said. "But, with that said, we are aggressive in keeping lifts operating in windy conditions."
On days when lifts can't run, Linde said, officials sometimes compensate skiers with "snow checks," allowing them to return another day. But, Linde said, the vouchers only are distributed during extreme conditions.
"Most people understand that weather is out of our control," he said.
Klaus Wolter, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Diagnostics Center, said many resorts use forestry to abate wind gusts, but Eldora can't grow trees as tall as ski areas on the Western Slope because its soil is rockier and its climate is drier.
Wolter said this is a La Niña winter, and those tend to be windier. But, he said, heavy wind storms come with an upside: heavy precipitation.
"It's a great place for spill-over snow," Wolter said.
Will Collins, 22, of Boulder, said he's experienced great days at Eldora, especially in the spring when warmer weather and calmer winds create a welcoming environment for a full day of skiing or snowboarding -- one that doesn't involve a several-hour drive on Interstate 70.
But Ryan Waits, 25, of Boulder, said he's only visited Eldora once.
"I went six years ago, and I'll never go back because of the wind," Waits said. "It was freezing."