Highlands opens Saturday with 700 acres, Buttermilk with 125 acres | AspenTimes.com

Highlands opens Saturday with 700 acres, Buttermilk with 125 acres

Staff report

A crews builds scaffolding as part of the infrastructure for the Winter X Games at the base of Buttermilk on Wednesday. Despite a dry spell, the ski area will open as scheduled Saturday with top-to-bottom skiing.

The recent dry spell isn't preventing huge coming-out parties for the season Saturday at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk.

Highlands will kick off its season with 700 acres of skiable terrain, including a significant amount of Highland Bowl with runs B-Fore, Steep and Deep, White Kitchen, Be One, Ozone, Full Curl and all of the G Zones except 0 and 1, Aspen Skiing Co. announced Wednesday. Aspen Highlands loyalists will likely be pleasantly surprised at the amount of terrain that is opening and that much of the famed Highland Bowl will open to start the season after scant snow in recent weeks.

"The snow stays in there," Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said. "It's got great elevation and exposure."

Most of the Temerity trails will open, including A+, South Castle, Lucky Find and Hyde Park. All of the Steeplechase trails will open, as will most of the upper mountain, including Boomerang, Kandahar and Heatherbedlam. All of the mid-mountain green and blue runs will be open as will Thunderbowl and Jerome Bowl.

All of the chairlifts at Highlands will be operating. Cloud 9 Bistro and Merry-Go-Round will be serving food and beverages.

Buttermilk will open with 125 acres and offer top-to-bottom skiing even though it has the lowest overall elevation of Skico's four ski areas. It looked unlikely from driving by on Highway 82 on Wednesday that the base area could open this weekend. Closer scrutiny showed that snow piles and several inches of base have been stockpiled to the skier's right of the scaffolding being erected for the Winter X Games infrastructure and to skier's right of the lower terminal of the Summit Express chairlift.

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Hanle said warm temperatures delayed snowmaking recently, but it's resumed. "We've just been hammering away again once we had the cold temperatures," he said.

Summit Express chairlift will provide access to Savio, No Problem, Ridge, Lover's Lane, Midway and Columbine. The West Buttermilk Express lift also will be open from the mid-station accessing Westward Ho, Larkspur and Big Face Hollow. Bumps and the Cliff House restaurants will be open.

Buttermilk also will celebrate the opening of the new children's ski school center, The Hideout. A grand-opening celebration will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. A dedication ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. Party activities will include food and fun and games for kids, such as Jammin Jim the juggling entertainer, live music, s'mores and more.

"Many skiers and snowboarders think of the 22-foot superpipe, the award-winning terrain park and the X Games when they think of Buttermilk," said Buttermilk Mountain Manager Susan Cross in a prepared statement. "But for more than 50 years, this mountain has been the proving ground for novice skiers and riders who are just learning the ropes. The Hideout will be an amazing facility to introduce the next generation of X Games athletes to the sport."

At Aspen Mountain, the Shadow Mountain chairlift will open to provide access to the 400 acres open there.

The four ski areas provide a combined 2,325 acres of open terrain, Skico announced Wednesday amid hand-wringing among Roaring Fork Valley residents over the dry conditions.

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