Exposing today’s little secret
December 8, 2006
The raucous opening day at Aspen Highlands attracts the bulk of area skiers, but those in the know are heading to Ajax today. Don’t tell anyone. Seriously.”It’s usually the best day of the year on Aspen Mountain,” said Roger Marolt, an Aspen Times columnist, accountant and big fan of Ajax.”I think the first day at Highlands is pretty much a party, but for the real skiing Ajax is the place to be,” he said. There are no lines and with the new terrain opening near the Ruthie’s chairlift, Marolt reckons there’ll be some fresh powder in them there hills.”People really get into all the hoopla that goes into the opening at Highlands – and it should be fabulous,” said Peter King, Aspen mountain manager. “But if you don’t want to be in the middle of the frenzy, Aspen is a good choice.”King’s staff will open the Ruthie’s and F.I.S. chairlifts at 8:30 Saturday, providing access to all of the terrain on the west side of the area, including the steep “Dumps” that spill into Spar Gulch.Though it won’t be virgin powder, King said, “It’ll grab your attention.” He predicts the kind of soft snow on the steeps that gets better the more it is skied.”Opening day at Highland and closing day at Highlands, Aspen mountain skiers usually have everything to themselves,” said Steve Sewell, former Aspen manager who now runs Snowmass. He said that it is just a coincidence – a good coincidence – the day coincides with the opening of new terrain on Aspen Mountain.He expects a “mellower experience” in Aspen today.”Aspen Highlands opening day is a busy day, but it’s a blast,” said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. Sure the lines will be longer at Highlands, and Aspen might a better choice if you want to gets as many turns as you can, but Highlands opening day is festive and not to miss, Hanle said.”It’s not always about how many laps you can do,” Hanle said, but about reacquainting with friends and having a good time.”But take the bus,” Hanle recommends, because the Highlands parking lot fills up pretty quickly.So, area skiers are faced with a win-win situation Saturday.But seriously, don’t go to Ajax.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.