Aspen Mountain will open for skiing Memorial Day weekend | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Mountain will open for skiing Memorial Day weekend

A skier takes advantage of summer skiing on Aspen Mountain during Memorial Day Weekend last season. Aspen Mountain will open again for the holiday weekend.

Don't put those boards away just yet. Aspen Mountain will reopen for skiing and snowboarding Memorial Day Weekend.

About 130 acres of terrain at the mountaintop will be open for skiing and snowboarding Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Aspen Skiing Co. announced Monday. The upper intermediate or blue trails will be open as will the black runs such as Summit and Blondie's.

Mother Nature cooperated this spring to make skiing an option. About 18 inches of snow fell over the past week.

"With this snow it was a slam dunk. Easy decision," said Rich Burkley, Skico vice president of mountain operations.

The Ajax Express lift will spin from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Silver Queen Gondola will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for sightseeing. The gondola traditionally opens for summer operations Memorial Day weekend.

The chances of opening without the latest snow was about 65 percent in favor, he said. Cooler temperatures above 10,000 feet have preserved the snowpack.

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Skico officials will decide May 31 if skiing can be extended another weekend, Burkley said. The snowpack can disappear rapidly after Memorial Day, when temperatures typically soar, he said. The decision will come down to whether snow on the ramps and mazes at the ski lift can be maintained and access points from trails to the lifts retain coverage.

This will be the sixth year since 2008 that Skico has offered Memorial Day weekend skiing on Aspen Mountain.

Burkley said the company policy is to offer skiing when it can during the holiday. More often than not, he said, it should be able to open for the weekend.

"We should be able to have some type of product in May," he said.

Aspen Mountain will join Arapahoe Basin as the only Colorado ski areas open on the holiday weekend. California resorts that got pounded this winter plan to stay open well into the summer. Mammoth plans to stay open until July 4. Squaw Valley plans to make it the endless ski season this summer.

Burkley said Aspen is fairly busy during Memorial Day weekend, so the decision is partially made for business reasons. There's also what is known in the ski industry as "snow equity" — the ability of a good snow year to create favorable impressions for the next season. By opening for Memorial Day weekend, skiers and snowboarders have a favorable perception of Aspen snow conditions in general.

But mostly Skico is opening the slopes "just for fun," Burkley said.

It will be a classic multi-sport weekend — with the mountain white from snow and the lower elevations green and available for activities such as golf and mountain biking.

Premier passes and 6-and-younger passes will be valid for skiing and summer operations. Pass extension days for Flex, Double Flex, Classic, Club Escape, School, Aspen Valley Ski Club and Mountain Collective passholders will be sold for $21 for skiing and $12 for only sightseeing per day.

Lift tickets will be sold for $42 per day. Sightseeing tickets are $21.

Summer operations will be held on weekends on Memorial Day weekend, June 3-4, June 10-11, then go daily June 17 to Sept. 4. It will operate for weekends through September. The Sundeck is open for food and beverages.

scondon@aspentimes.com

If you go …

Info for Memorial Day Weekend skiing and riding on Aspen Mountain:

Silver Queen Gondola: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ajax Express lift: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (skiing ends when lift closes)

Terrain: 130 acres of blue and black runs

Getting down: Last ride down gondola is 4:30 p.m.

Lift tickets: $21 to $42

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