Aspen ski pass use up this season |

Aspen ski pass use up this season

Kate Cardamone of Aspen looks for a soft landing on Trainor's Ridge on Feb. 2 while skiing Aspen Mountain. (Tim Kurnos/Aspen Times file)

ASPEN ” Despite all the well-documented changes in Aspen over the years, rest assured that powder still rules.

Aspen Skiing Co. season ski pass holders have hit the slopes more times this winter than last winter ” even though last season opened with a bang and this season opened with a whimper. The chairlifts opened early in 2006-07 because there was so much snow. This season, warm and dry conditions threatened to delay the opening and limited the available terrain into December.

As a result, season ski pass use was down more than 20 percent through Dec. 20 this season compared to last winter, according to David Perry, Skico’s senior vice president ” mountain division.

But once the snow started piling up by mid-December, passholders hit the slopes with a vengeance and made up that deficit. As of last weekend, Feb. 9 and 10, season ski pass use inched ahead of last year’s level.

“When the snow comes, the locals start skiing in droves and they continue skiing in droves,” Perry said.

Nevertheless, given the record snowfall in Snowmass and near record snowfall in Aspen in December and January, you would expect pass use this season to crush prior records. There were 38 powder days for locals to feast on in December and January.

Could it be that some locals are getting soft in their old age and waiting for the sun rather than skiing the powder?

Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said he believes locals remain true powder hounds. The only reason pass use isn’t miles ahead this season is because of the poor early conditions.

“You take a big hit when you have limited terrain and a limited opening,” he said. “It’s just a big hole to dig out of.”

Locals apparently had high expectations for the season. Sales of season passes, which include everything from the one-day per week pass to the unlimited skiing pass, were up 4 percent this winter over last year, Perry said. He attributed the increase to a growing population in the Roaring Fork Valley and great conditions in recent winters.

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