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December 25, 2013
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Holiday visitors to Aspen delighted by early season snow

There’s no snow in the forecast for the next few days, but that hardly matters. There’s a 33-inch base on Aspen Mountain and a 43-inch base on Snowmass, making for some of the best holiday conditions in recent years.

Robin Scott and Tim Hiley, two educators from Yorkshire, England, made the 20-hour flight from Manchester to Frankfurt, Germany, to Chicago to Aspen. They’re in town through Christmas, and then it’s off to Vail and Breckenridge. Scott said they never considered any European destinations over Colorado, explaining that skiers in their part of the world aren’t as conscientious about “queuing up,” or funneling into lift lines.

“In France, if you’re on skis, people will put their skis on top of yours when you’re in line, and they sort of push to the front of the line,” Scott said. “They don’t believe in lining up, really.”

The Caldwell family, which has been coming to Aspen since 1957, made the 21-hour trip from Nashville, Tenn. Ed Caldwell was on the Silver Queen Gondola with his brother Pen on Tuesday trying to figure out how many Christmases they’ve missed in Aspen over the years. They estimated they’ve missed two or three between the both of them.

“We ski because it’s a great family sport,” Ed Caldwell said. “We come to Aspen because our parents taught us it was such a fun sport to do, and we got accustomed to doing it in Aspen, so it’s a special place for us.”

Daren Metropoulos and Kelly Carrington flew directly from Los Angeles. Carrington said they’re planning a trip to Vail in February, but for Christmas, Aspen was the place.

“It’s more of a small, quaint town (than Vail),” she said. “We thought it would be the best place for the holidays.”

Metropoulos, principal at Metropoulos & Co., the holding company of Hostess and Pabst Brewing Co., said the 10-day trip is part business, as well.

“We also came here with the intent to inundate people with some PBR and Twinkies,” Carrington said.

Metropoulos, who grew up in Stowe, Vt., is used to ski trips on Christmas. He said one of his assistants in Los Angeles has been checking Aspen’s snow conditions every day. AspenWeather.net forecast 1 to 3 inches on Christmas Eve, but it predicts zero inches Thursday through Sunday.

“Subsidence or sinking air is definitely the rule on X-Mas Day,” an email to subscribers reads. “Look for mostly sunny skies. ... I can’t rule out a snow shower at some point this weekend but right now I’m leaning toward us missing the jet (stream). Look for generally dry weather.”

Ed Caldwell, who was skiing with his wife, Paige, and his brother’s son Tanner, said he remembers a 14-inch base on Aspen Mountain in 2011 and about a 20-inch base in 2012.

“As far as Christmas season goes, this is the best we’ve had in a while,” he said.

Karl High and Zack Bushnell were working the FIS chairlift for Aspen Skiing Co. on Tuesday. High previously worked at Kirkwood Mountain in Lake Tahoe, Calif., while Bushnell worked at Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho, where he is from. At 10 a.m., both the Ajax Express and FIS lifts were relatively quiet. Bushnell figured the holiday crowds were still getting out of bed.

“Yeah, they were out celebrating last night,” High said.

They both expect the weekend to be the busiest stretch of the holiday season.

herk@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Dec 24, 2013 06:51PM Published Dec 27, 2013 07:20PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.