Ajax to open Saturday | AspenTimes.com

Ajax to open Saturday

Photo courtesy Aspen Skiing Company

The ski season will start early for Roaring Fork Valley residents, although there will be a price for anyone who didn’t buy a full-season pass.The Aspen Skiing Co. announced Wednesday it will open Aspen Mountain early because of all the good early-season snow. Ajax will open for the season Saturday, Nov. 18, rather than Thanksgiving Day.The other three Skico ski areas will open as scheduled: Thursday, Nov. 23, for Snowmass, and Saturday, Dec. 9 for Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk.

Premier passholders can ski for free starting Saturday. All other passholders must pay $32 per day for the preseason dates. Their passes take effect on Thanksgiving Day. For nonpassholders, lift tickets are $52 for adults, $42 for seniors and youths, and $32 for children for the preseason dates.The Skico will open about 150 acres on the mountaintop, mostly intermediate terrain served by the Ajax Express and the Gentlemen’s Ridge chairlifts. “All the groomers are going to be great,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.He explained that the Skico had to try to contain the number of skiers since a limited amount of terrain is opening early. “We don’t want it to get skied off before the scheduled opening,” Hanle said.

There will not be top-to-bottom skiing, so skiers and riders will have to download the gondola.The trails expected to open include Buckhorn, Midnight, North American, Reds, Tourtelotte Park, 1& 2 Leaf, Silver Bell, Dipsy Doodle, Bellisimo, Silver Dip and Seibert’s. Keep eyes peeled for temporary openings of steeper terrain as well, Hanle advised.The early opening was in doubt before a storm dumped about 16 inches of snow on the slopes Monday night and Tuesday, Hanle said. Skico officials checked out conditions on Aspen Mountain on Tuesday and concluded there was only one choice to make.

“It would be criminal not to open this mountain,” Aspen Mountain manager Peter King said in a prepared statement.Hanle said Tuesday’s storm came with heavy winds on the mountain, so some places are loaded and some scoured. However, the terrain that will open has been track-packed three times, so there is a solid base there. It will be immaculately groomed for the early opening.The lifts will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Sundeck restaurant will be open for business. The Ski & Snowboard School will be open for adult lessons only – no beginner or children’s lessons.The benefit day for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club will still be Wednesday, Nov. 22, at Aspen Mountain.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.