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Mount Lemmon Ski Valley opening Thursday

Oh, boy! With the sun shining and at least a foot of fresh snow on Mount Lemmon, Wednesday looked like a perfect opportunity to beat the rodeo rush and snatch a day of skiing from the jaws of the Sonoran Desert.

Hold your horses. Ski Valley will open Thursday after a midweek closure for "recuperative reasons," according to the area's recorded hotline.

With the rodeo rolling, the sun shining and the highway heavenly, students off for the long weekend could head up the hill with skis and snowboards. Lift lines aren't much fun, though otherwise things sound perfect.

But guess what? More snow is forecast for the weekend, meaning Monday could be prime time again.

The site's northern exposure shields the snow from too much sunlight, which melts powder, creating soft spots that freeze at night and can turn into icy patches.

As long as temperatures stay relatively cool, ice formation is minimized. A stormy day followed by a sunny but chilly one creates ideal conditions: The road to the top is smooth sailing, for those who fear fatal un-traction.

And if you still miss your chance, Mount Lemmon's 60-70 inch base of snow and this winter's general cool, wet trend may keep spring skiing alive for weeks.

Usual hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the ski shop opening at 8:30. Rental and lesson packages are available. Those over 70 get in free; the usual adult price is $37 for all day, $32 starting at 12:30 p.m. Discounts for military, seniors and kids.

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For refreshment, the Iron Door restaurant offers full meals and the Grub Stake cafe serves chili and other snacks on an outdoor deck with a view of the slopes.

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