Buy now! Aspen ski pass prices will soar starting Saturday |

Buy now! Aspen ski pass prices will soar starting Saturday

Jim Perry stops in the Aspen ticket sales office Thursday morning to buy his season pass before prices rise. Ticket seller Randy Dube is being kept busy at the office since pass prices will increase after Friday.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

Skiers and snowboarders who want to keep some extra bread in their pockets better buy their Aspen Snowmass ski passes today.

The “super-early deadline” offered by Aspen Skiing Co. expires today. On Saturday, the price of a Premier Pass will soar $320, from the current $1,799 to $2,119.

The price of a Premier Pass for buyers eligible for a Chamber of Commerce discount will shoot up $430 from $1,299 to $1,729.

The two-days-per-week pass, known as a Double Flex Pass, will increase from $1,449 to $1,769 for nonchamber buyers and from $1,149 to $1,479 for chamber-affiliated buyers.

The scheduled season is 144 days at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass.

The Flex Pass, good for one day per week, will increase from $989 to $1,089 for nonchamber buyers and $849 to $919 at the chamber discount.

Prices will rise for a second time after Nov. 11.

The deadline for the seven- and four-day Classic Passes isn’t until Oct. 14 to get the best price, according to Skico.

For those who want to buy the pass in person, the Aspen Mountain ticket office beneath the Silver Queen Gondola is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Two Creeks ticket office at Snowmass is open daily during September from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Purchases also can be made online at http://www.aspen​ or by phone at 970-923-1227 or 877-282-7736.

Average season length

This season kicks off Nov. 24 at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass and is scheduled to end April 16 at both ski areas. That means the scheduled season is 144 days. However, last season also was scheduled at 144 days but ended up being 160 days with an early opening and late closing, said Rich Burkley, Skico vice president of mountain operations.

“We’re spot on our average” with 144 days, he said.

The scheduled dates are shorter at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. They both open Dec. 10. Buttermilk closes April 2. Highlands closes April 9.

The long-range forecast by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration currently shows above average temperatures and below average precipitation for most of Colorado for December, January and February. However, meteorologist Joel Gratz of the blog Open Snow noted that forecasts this far in advance are rarely accurate.

Snowmaking plans

Burkley said he wants a similar start to last season for the weather.

“I’m hoping for a repeat of snowmaking temperatures of November and December,” he said.

Low temperatures allowed more snowmaking earlier than usual at Skico’s four ski areas.

“We got lots of terrain open early in the season,” Burkley said.

The snowmaking plan will be altered this year at Aspen Mountain. There won’t be any early World Cup events, so snowmaking won’t be needed on the courses on the west side of the mountain. (The World Cup Finals will be held in March. Aspen Mountain typically hosts women’s technical events in November.)

Skico will focus early this season on making snow on the east side of the mountain. The goal is to make enough snow so that both the Copper Bowl and Spar Gulch could open on Day 1, Burkley said.

On-mountain preparations for the World Cup events will start in the third week of February. That will require closures of trails and “floating closures” during the preparations, he said.

Restaurant, trail work

The remodeling of Gwyn’s High Alpine restaurant is Skico’s big-ticket capital improvement for the summer. Skiers will be delighted to learn that the bathrooms have been moved to a much more convenient location, according to Burkley. The capacity and flow of the restaurant also will be improved, though the footprint remains the same, he said.

Summer trails crews have opened up more of the Free Fall Glades, which funnel into Garrett Gulch. They also worked on the Reidar’s Glades, continuing work started when the High Alpine chairlift was relocated and replaced last season, according to Burkley.

A new connector was also cleared between the Turkey Trot and Funnel trails so that the beginners’ area and unloading area for the Elk Camp Gondola could be avoided.

At Aspen Highlands, there’s been additional glading in the Lucky Find and Lucky Strike areas off the Deep Temerity chairlift.

At Buttermilk, some deadfall has been cleared for better tree skiing on West Buttermilk.

At Aspen Mountain, a new seating and events area is being built south of the Sundeck’s existing deck. It will be most beneficial during summers but could add an additional place to hang out during winters, Burkley said.

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