From the Vault: Saga of Snow for opening day
“Ski lifts idle, waiting for more snow,” announced The Aspen Times on Nov. 25, 1976. “The Aspen Skiing Corp. estimates it will lose about $400,000 of gross revenue if it doesn’t snow two feet today, and Thanksgiving weekend will be lost. Little or no snow is in the forecast through Friday. Lifts were scheduled to open Thanksgiving Day. The corporation has been able to stick to that date 6 of every 7 years since opening day, Jan. 1, 1946. Crews are on a 48-hour alert, which means slopes will be opened within two days after a major snowstorm. Tom Richardson, vice president and general manager of Aspen Skiing Corp., said, ‘It takes about 45½ hours to compact the snow and get ready to open depending on the amount of snow you get. But if we get very little, we may want to hold the opening up a little longer so the slopes don’t get torn up.’ Aspen Highlands opened its Half-inch Poma lift Wednesday for skiing on artificial snow. The lift will be open from 9 to 4 daily. The ticket costs $3. Other slopes at Highlands are ready to be opened on 24 hours notice. Things could be worse. DRC Brown, Skiing Corp president, recalls that in 1939 or ’40 ‘you could drive over Independence Pass (east of Aspen) until Jan. 20.’ Brown said that 10 or 12 years ago it hadn’t snowed by Dec. 20. Red Rowland and members of the company’s board of directors gave a party. They gave Brown a hat that said on it, ‘GREENS-KEEPER.’ The next day it snowed. Richardson remembers that a few years ago it ‘dumped three feet of snow two days before Thanksgiving and we were able to open on schedule.’ ‘It’s just one of those years,’ Brown said. ‘It won’t be the first and it won’t be the last.’”
The photograph above shows D.R.C. Brown, Jr. standing near the base of Aspen Mountain, with very little snow on the ground, 1976.