All blow, no snow |

All blow, no snow

Jeremy Heiman

High winds slowed activity at two of Aspen’s ski areas Monday, but the storm system failed to bring promised quantities of snow to Aspen.

With winds gusting to nearly 70 mph at the top of the Big Burn at Snowmass, all the lifts that provide access to the top of Snowmass ski area were closed, said Aspen Skiing Co. spokeswoman Rose Abello.

Though the Silver Queen Gondola was shut down all day, as well, Aspen Mountain’s terrain remained open and accessible by chairlifts, Abello said. The Bell Mountain lift was also closed on Aspen Mountain, she said.

Despite the strong winds, property damage was minimal on Skico mountains, Abello said. The only wind damage Abello had heard of was a broken window on a patrol building at Snowmass.

All lifts that have been fired up at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk this season remained in operation yesterday, Abello said.

At Snowmass, Sam’s Knob, The Big Burn, High Alpine and Elk Camp chairlifts all were shut down. The Sheer Bliss chair has not been opened for the season. Visibility was poor across the top of Snowmass due to ground blizzards, Abello said, but that was not a problem since that part of the ski area was closed.

The Skico offered discounts at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass to compensate for the inconvenience, Abello said. Multiday ticketholders were offered partial credit to be used on additional ski days, and, on Aspen Mountain, the price was reduced to $49. Crowds were sparse, she said.

According to The Associated Press, winds of more than 75 mph were reported in some areas of the state yesterday. The Colorado Department of Transportation closed U.S. 6 over Loveland Pass and issued mandatory chain restrictions for commercial vehicles traveling over Interstate 70 and several of the high country’s mountain passes.

AP reports also indicated that other ski areas fared better than Aspen in terms of new snow. Vail and Steamboat Springs both reported more than a foot of fresh powder on Sunday night and Monday.

Despite the new snow received in some parts of the state, winter moisture in Colorado as a whole remains well below average. Recent snowpack surveys showed the base at a 30-year low, creating concerns about water supplies for agriculture next summer.

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