Aspen, Snowmass handle the masses |

Aspen, Snowmass handle the masses

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

This is always an amazing period of time in Aspen and Snowmass.

Amazing in the sense that the resort and the ski areas can handle so many people with relative ease and without even more chaos on the trails and on the streets.

And have you noticed that the more buffed out the car or the ski outfit the less focused the individual seems to be on the task at hand, such as driving courteously through town or getting smoothly through Spar Gulch?

Ah, well, it is also a wonderful time of families spending time together and passing the torch of mountain knowledge from one generation to another.

And certainly more than one parent was counseling their kids this weekend to ski or ride in control and to be aware of other skiers and snowboarders. Good advice, that, and probably going in one helmet hole and out the other.

Hopefully the weather forecast was correct last night and we’ve now gotten 1 to 3 inches of snow to help soften the slopes, which have been well skied in the last week.

There’s another chance of snow this morning, with a projected high of 24 degrees. Sunday felt like snow was coming, with warm temperatures and a steady wind high on the mountain slowly blowing a bank of clouds toward town.

And the high winds Sunday evening caused yesterday’s “Starlight Evening at the Sundeck” to be pushed back until tonight.

The Sundeck will be open tonight serving pizzas, salads, grill items and a kid’s menu, the Flying Dog Bluegrass Band will be playing, and naturalists from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies will be leading moonlight snowshoe tours.

The gondola will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the last ride up at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 for pass holders and $10 for non-pass holders. Children 12 and under are free.

If you’ve never been up the gondola at night, it is well worth the trip.

And if you’ve been keeping track, the base depths have shrunk a bit in the past few days. Snowmass is now settled out to a 45-inch base on top, while Highlands has a 35-inch base and Ajax a 30-inch base.

The Skico’s snow report says that 84 of 84 trails are open at Snowmass and 125 of 131 are open at Highlands. (Can you name all 131 trails at Highlands?)

The rocks are showing in places where they normally do on Ajax when it has a 30-inch base, such as Jackpot and on the lower mountain under Lift 1A. But still, all in all, the skiing is quite good for the last week of December. And the few rocks are certainly nothing that a foot of snow can’t cure.

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