Aspen Highlands opens to powder |

Aspen Highlands opens to powder

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Skiers and riders get an early start up Exhibition at Highlands opening day Saturday.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

The snow gods graced Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk with snowfall that started late Friday night and continued into both mountains’ opening day.

At Aspen Highlands, the air was cold, the snow was fresh and though visibility was low, spirits were high.

“Everybody on the mountain is just smiling,” said local Hope Rader, adding that she had a good time.

“The snow was brilliant,” said Didier de Villiers, who moved to Aspen from Capetown, South Africa, this month.

De Villiers’ friend William Cahill, also new to town from Capetown, said, “The visibility was incredibly low, but it was awesome to have some nice, soft powder.”

“We got off work and literally ran here,” de Villiers said.

Despite arriving to the mountain with less than two hours until close, both men agreed it was worth every minute.

In the morning, lift lines at Aspen Highlands were short and the powder was great, lift operator Trey McGee said.

By mid-day, the visibility was poor and the crowds were strong until petering out at around 2 p.m., McGee said.

Lifties agreed there weren’t as many people on the mountain for opening day as they expected.

“I thought it was going to be slammed,” lift operator Dagny Freeman said. “It was steady, but not crazy — a very chill opening, and such a great day.”

“Less people means more powder to go around,” said McGee, who also was surprised by Saturday’s turnout.

McGee estimated that snow fell for about 80 percent of the day on Saturday.

Freeman said the extra inches on the ground made a difference from Aspen Highlands’ snow conditions the previous day.

“We’re so lucky for this snow,” Freeman said. “It saved us.”

Skiers and snowboarders agreed. As local Renee Mackie said, “Thank God for this dump!”

“The skiing today is amazing,” Mackie said. “2016, here we come!”