Aspen Mountain will open for season five days early on Nov. 17 | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Mountain will open for season five days early on Nov. 17

Snowmakers Jay Clapper, left, and Cody Webb connect hoses together to the snowmaking machines and their water sources on Thursday at Aspen Mountain.

Aspen Mountain will open for the season on Saturday, Nov. 17, five days before the scheduled opening — though what exactly will open is yet to be determined, Aspen Skiing Co. announced Thursday.

"We're opening. We're happy to be opening. We just don't know what we're opening yet," said Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications.

The amount of terrain that opens will depend on how much snow falls between now and then.

"At a minimum, we'll do Nell and Bell," Hanle said, referring to the Little Nell chairlift at the base and the old standby Bell Mountain chairlift. If that's all that opens on Nov. 17, Aspen Mountain will still offer more vertical feet of skiing than many of the resorts now open in Colorado, according to Hanle. The top of the Bell Mountain chair is at an elevation of about 10,500 feet. The base is at about 7,945 feet.

Hanle said the ticket price can't be set because it's uncertain how much terrain will open. Ski passes will be able to be used.

Snowmass will not open early but is making preparations to open for the traditional Thanksgiving Day opening.

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Snow is in the forecast for the Aspen area on Sunday. If enough snow falls to cover the mountaintop with a sufficient base, the Ajax Express and Silver Queen Gondola could also open. Further details will be released as they are determined.

Cold temperatures over the past nine days have allowed Skico to fire up the snowmaking system to cover the lower two-thirds of the slopes. That is vital for the early opening.

Hanle said Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan announced the early opening at a meeting Thursday afternoon at a meeting at the Wheeler for 150-plus Skico managers. People were excited about getting boards out for the season, he said.

"It's exciting to get open," Hanle said.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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