Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk end season with parties, bacon. Lots of bacon
A string of somebody’s little ponies, an embarrassment of pandas, enough dayglow neon to blow out an eardrum and a round of heavy, wet snow contributed Sunday to a rousing first round of closing days for Aspen mountains.
More skiers and snowboarders than not dressed up as more than 100 folks lined up at the base of Aspen Highlands when the lifts started turning Sunday morning to an overnight snow report of 12 inches at the top.
But the cache of riches was not to be had as patrollers did not open Highland Bowl because of safety concerns after the overnight snowstorm. No matter, as the closing day party usually reserved at the prayer flags atop Highland Peak picked up at the dropoff of the Loge and Deep Temerity lifts.
And the celebration lasted into the night with a giant party at the base lasting late into the afternoon.
At Buttermilk, it was a drift of hogs that made the last day a bit more palatable. The eighth annual Bacon Appreciation Day dotted the mountain with stations of pork products.
Aspen Skiing Co. ambassadors handed out Canadian bacon to skiers sliding past the No Problem Cabin. A couple of Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputies stood guard as the popular bacon-covered cronut holes at the base flew out of the boxes.
“We certainly want to close on a high note,” Rich Burkley, Skico senior vice president of business development, said Sunday while taking a break from serving up double slices of peppered bacon at the Tiehack lift.
The sounder of swine contributed 400 pounds of bacon being doled out at Buttermilk.
The long line for bacon-wrapped scallops served up by ski patrollers included the Taylor family of Aspen.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to do Bacon Day as a family,” said Joe Taylor, who was dressed a “Minion” alongside his wife, Nora, and their two daughters who were sporting Hawaiian shirts and colorful tutus. “We’re going to hit all of them until we’re full or they run out.”
Burkley said by the time he skinned up to the top of Buttermilk on Sunday morning there were more than 50 people waiting for bacon waffles at The Cliffhouse to start the festivities.
“If it had been 10 degree cooler this would have been one of the better days this year,” he said. “But this is a classic spring day.”
Skico previously has announced they will not have any extra days this season, and any Memorial Day skiing would coincide with the Aspen Mountain gondola running for the start of the summer season.
Aspen Mountain and Snowmass close April 15. The annual pond-skimming at Highlands was canceled this year, but not to worry — it is scheduled next week as part of the closing day “Schneetag” celebration at Snowmass.
“This year with marginal snow conditions toward the end of the season we’re not going to be able to extend the season,” Burkley confirmed Sunday. “If we have a really heavy May, maybe Aspen Mountain for Memorial Day weekend.”
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With the likelihood that some level of COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings will still be in place come Mountain Fair weekend, July 23-25, organizers are taking some aspects of the fair to the streets and elsewhere around town.