ASPEN - Although a lack of winter weather kept the Aspen Skiing Co. from opening as many runs as it normally would on opening day, most people kicking off the ski season Thursday were taking a positive outlook on the conditions.
"It was awesome today," said Shayna Yellon, of Snowmass Village, who rode Snowmass on Thursday and got to the slopes around 9:30 a.m. "The quality of snow is better than I expected. The crowds picked up later in the afternoon, but it was just a great day to get out there and get it started this season."
On Snowmass, Skico opened the Meadows beginners' area, upper Scooper, lower Hal's, Dawdler and Fanny Hill.
"It was a little crowded, but the morning was very light," she said. "By about 10:30, 11 o'clock, the lines picked up to about 10 minutes. But not much more. I mean, it's been manageable and a lot of fun regardless of the lines."
Dennis Lytle and Amanda Coleman, who just moved to Basalt, arrived a little after noon, thinking they might get in line after other folks had moved on to turkey dinners elsewhere. Lytle said he used to ski Telluride, and he felt he had to get a couple runs in for opening day regardless of how few were open.
"You wear your best Christmas sweater and get up and do it," he said. "It's a goofy day, right. We're not really out to shred today. ... It's just coming out to hang out and get excited about the winter."
Lytle said it was good to see a lot of people out skiing.
Friends Elizabeth Slossberg, of Aspen, and Olivia Tank, visiting from Alabama, said they had a good day on Snowmass, too. It was Tank's first time skiing.
"It's awesome," Slossberg said. "It's so fun and so great."
On Aspen Mountain, the Little Nell and Bell Mountain chairs were running, with access to Deer Park, Spar Gulch and Little Nell.
"(It was) just one strip, but it was enough to make some turns," said Patrick Westfeldt, of Aspen.
Westfeldt said he'd heard a lot of negativity leading up to opening day.
"Nobody was out. Now it's getting pretty stacked," he said around 10 a.m.
Local resident John Morton said he came out "just to get up in the mountains and enjoy the spirit of it all."
He said conditions on Spar were better than he expected and that he didn't see any rocks on the run.
"They did a great job with what they had," he said.
Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle told The Aspen Times earlier this week that the company is one snowfall away from being able to open top-to-bottom skiing on Ajax. He said a few nights of snowmaking will allow Max Park, Lunchline and the connection to the base of Big Burn Chair at Snowmass to open.
Aspen Highlands is scheduled to open Dec. 8 and Buttermilk on Dec. 15.