A case of too little, too late | AspenTimes.com

A case of too little, too late

The last two days have been the best of the season on local slopes, but it came too little, too late to counter the holiday blues.

Snowmass finally topped 600 acres of skiable terrain Monday with the opening of the Wildcat and Upper Campground trails, according to Snowmass Ski Area General Manager Doug Mackenzie.

Crews there aim to open some trails on High Alpine Tuesday or Wednesday as well as some trails on Elk Camp Wednesday, Mackenzie said, which could boost skiable terrain to 747 acres.

The Aspen Skiing Co. limped through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with only about 17 percent of its largest ski area available. About 500 acres of Snowmass’ bountiful 3,010 acres were open.

Typically, more than 2,000 acres are available around Christmas and up to 10,000 customers per day hit the slopes on some of the busier days of the holiday period, said Mackenzie. This season, about 5,000 skiers and snowboard riders were attracted to Snowmass on the busiest days, he said.

“The whole holiday season was disappointing,” said Mackenzie.

Just as the last of the holiday crowds were leaving Sunday, the snow started arriving. Snowmass received five to seven inches over the 24 hours prior to opening Sunday morning and reported another five inches Monday morning.

The same scenario unfolded last season. Tourists departed from the holiday period while snow was still sparse. When they returned home, it’s suspected that they talked about poor conditions, so it affected tourism for the remainder of the season.

The Skico’s combined skier and rider visits at its four resorts were down 8.2 percent for the season.

Skico officials hope to battle bad word-of-mouth this season. After snowfall on Saturday and Sunday, the Skico’s communications department shot video of sliders on the snow and shipped it off to various television stations.

Elsewhere, the Skico plans to finally open some double black-diamond trails. About 400 acres of terrain will be open at Aspen Mountain starting today, including Back of Bell 2, Christmas Tree, Sunrise-Sunset, Keith Glen and the lower poration of Ride of Bell.

Buttermilk will have 280 acres open. Trails opening for the first time this season are Sterner on the Tiehack side and Jacob’s Ladder on Main Buttermilk.

Aspen Highlands will open portions of Temerity and Steeplechase, boosting the total to 230 acres.

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