Aspen Skiing Co. will extend hours of some lifts |

Aspen Skiing Co. will extend hours of some lifts

ASPEN – You know spring is around the corner when closing time for some chairlifts gets extended later.

The Aspen Skiing Co. announced Tuesday that at least some of the lifts at its four ski areas will operate until 4 p.m. starting Saturday, Feb. 19. The lifts with extended hours are:

Aspen Mountain – Silver Queen Gondola and Ajax Express.

Aspen Highlands – Exhibition and Loge.

Buttermilk – Summit Express until 4 p.m.; West Buttermilk and Tiehack until 3:30 p.m.

Snowmass – Village Express, Big Burn and Elk Camp Gondola.

Speaking of spring, the sunshine has felt mighty good over the last several days. Some errands and chores kept me off the alpine slopes on Saturday but I was able to sneak in a 1 1/2 hour loop at Spring Gulch late in the afternoon before a party. No place benefited as much from last week’s blizzard as the awesome little cross-country ski area 7 miles outside of Carbondale. The base at the bottom was getting thin before the storm. Now Spring Gulch is set for the foreseeable future.

Sunday I took a leisurely trip up to Snowmass, arriving at about 11 a.m. Why get up early when the skiing just gets better as the sun softens that hardpack?

Monday was the real treat. I met a friend who has been mastering the local slopes since 1969. He taught me more about Aspen Highlands in three hours of skiing than I’d learned before, including how to read the conditions to find the best snow. It was a bit intimidating following him around. He glided through the deep troughs of Deception like it was corduroy. I tagged behind just trying to survive.

My spring skiing preview concluded Tuesday with a 7:30 a.m. skin up the already sun-kissed slopes of Tiehack. The calendar says spring is still a month away, but it felt different on the slopes.

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