Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and the Aspen Skiing Co. team up on Highlands snowmaking

Staff report

Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and the Aspen Skiing Co. have new snowmaking guns on Aspen Highlands and Monday night’s trial run was a success, according to a statement issued Wednesday.

The trial run was the prelude to the full-on operation of five fan guns and a tower gun that began blowing snow on the Golden Horn/Thunderbowl side of the mountain at 6 p.m. Tuesday and continued into the daylight hours.

“Today marks a milestone for Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club,” said Jeffrey Gorsuch, president of the AVSC board of directors. “It is November 6 and thanks to the generosity of our donors and tremendous support and involvement of Aspen Skiing Company, our decades-long dream of making snow to get our athletes out on the mountain for early training is a reality.”

Gorsuch chairs the $15 million capital campaign that is funding major improvements to AVSC’s training capability — both on mountain and in the nonprofit’s backyard behind Aspen High School — and establishing a $10 million endowment fund. The endowment will help provide financial aid for hundreds of the more than 2,250 children and youth throughout the Roaring Fork Valley that AVSC serves. To date, donors have contributed a total of $11 million to the campaign, which has a July 4 deadline for completion, the statement says.

AVSC is creating an alpine training center on Golden Horn that includes the construction of a surface lift as well as the addition of pumping capacity for the snowmaking system. Installation of pipe and electric lines to take snowmaking to the top of Golden Horn was completed this summer. Contingent on funding, a surface lift will be installed on Golden Horn next summer. Also in the plans is a lower surface lift adjacent to a new freeride-snowboard training site.

Aspen Highlands is also gaining a freeride-snowboard training center. A series of ramps and air bag will enable both freestyle skiers and snowboarders to master aerial acrobatics, according to the statement.