Aspen Skiing Co. gets 63 percent of terrain open
ASPEN – There is a formula in the ski industry at this time of year that you have to love for its simplicity – additional snow equals additional terrain.
Each storm allows the Aspen Skiing Co. to open more trails on its four ski hills. The amount of open terrain at the four areas combined was 3,282 acres Tuesday, or 63 percent of the total.
“Give us another foot and we’ll crank that up,” Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said.
Aspen Mountain now has 523 acres open; Aspen Highlands has 761 acres; Buttermilk has 408 acres open; and Snowmass has 1,590 acres available.
Assay Hill at Snowmass is scheduled to open Wednesday, followed by Two Creeks on Friday and Campground on Saturday, effectively opening all of Snowmass.
The weather hasn’t created a repeat performance of DEEPcember from the past two seasons – when unbelievable amounts of snow fell – but most skiers and riders agree that conditions are mighty fine.
A check of the snowpack data supplied by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the agriculture department, shows snowfall has varied widely even within the Roaring Fork watershed, which includes the Fryingpan and Crystal river drainages. The Crystal Valley has gotten hammered by storms; the Fryingpan is comparatively dry.
McClure Pass had a snowpack 126 percent of average on Tuesday while the automated Snotel site at North Lost Trail outside of Marble showed a snowpack that is 113 percent of average, according to the conservation service.
Meanwhile, up the Fryingpan, the lower elevations are extremely dry. The Nast site, at 8,700 feet in elevation, was only at 23 percent of average on Tuesday. The Kiln site, at 9,600 feet in elevation, was 64 percent of average. The Ivanhoe site, at 10,400 feet in elevation, was faring better with a snowpack 93 percent of average.
The conservation service measures the snowpack at Independence Pass and Schofield Pass, but they both had missing data Tuesday. The Independence Pass site, which is actually closer to Grizzly Reservoir, southeast of Aspen, has tracked above average for most of the season.
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Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.