Aspen, Snowmass ski areas have 5,024 acres open for the holiday hordes; lift ticket headed to $159 | AspenTimes.com

Aspen, Snowmass ski areas have 5,024 acres open for the holiday hordes; lift ticket headed to $159

Aspen Skiing Co. opened additional terrain at its four ski areas Friday after more snow fell Thursday night. It now has 5,024 acres open out of a total of 5,565 at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass.

Snowmass soared from 63 percent open terrain on Thursay to 88 percent Friday. The ski patrol opened Roberto's, Cirque Dikes, East 1 and all of the Burnt Mountain Glades. Snowmass now has 2,961 acres open out of 3,367.

Aspen Mountain has 645 out of 675 acres open. The ski patrol Friday opened Slalom Hill, Lazy 8, Corkscrew, Magnifico, Silver Queen, Spring Pitch and sections of Niagara. "The only runs remaining closed are Aztec and Norway as they are prepped for the World Cup Finals, and Silver Rush … because it is so steep in needs a bit more snow," said an email update provided by Skico on Friday.

At Aspen Highlands, 984 acres out of 1,053 were open Friday. In Highland Bowl, 17 of 23 trails were open. Bootpackers are working the middle of the Bowl and a large expanse will likely open after the next storm, according to Skico.

Buttermilk had all but 36 of its 470 acres open for business. The superpipe is expected to open next week.

Lift-ticket pricing reflects the addition of terrain. The walk-up window price for a single-day lift ticket is $145 this weekend. It will rise to $159 starting Monday, according to Skico.

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A snowstorm Thursday night dumped 3 inches at Buttermilk and 7 inches on Aspen Highlands, with amounts in between at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. With that fresh shot, Snowmass is reporting 91 inches of snow from Nov. 1 through Dec. 22. The average for all of November and December is 92 inches, so snowfall is likely to be above average before the month is over.

Aspen Mountain is reporting 76 inches of snow since Nov. 1. The average for November and December is 83 inches.

AspenWeather.net, a micro-forecaster, foresees a White Christmas for the slopes of Aspen and Snowmass. Skiers and snowboarders will wake up to 3 to 5 inches on the slopes of all four ski areas on Christmas Day, then see another 2 to 4 inches by dawn Monday, according to Aspen Weather.

The backcountry also benefited greatly from the mid-December snowstorm. The snowpack at the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River is at 103 percent of average, according to the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Snowpack levels are even higher in the Fryingpan and Crystal River Valleys, parts of the Roaring Fork watershed. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center rated the slide risk as considerable Friday.

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