‘Fifth mountain’ welcomes skiers | AspenTimes.com

‘Fifth mountain’ welcomes skiers

Janet Urquhart

While Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk open Saturday, Aspen’s so-called “fifth mountain” swings into high gear, as well.

Most of the resorts’ cross-country trail system is already groomed and open for Nordic enthusiasts, but Saturday, Dec. 9 brings the opening of the new-and-improved Snowmass Cross-Country Center. The facility has moved to roomier quarters in the Snowmass Club’s golf pro shop, located at 0446 Clubhouse Drive.

The Aspen/Snowmass trail system features some 70 kilometers of track, groomed for both classic and skate-style skiing. Only the Benedict Trail, an offshoot of the loop at the North Star Nature Preserve, east of Aspen, is presently closed (for avalanche danger).

The Rio Grande Trail has also been groomed with classic track from Aspen to Basalt High School, but skiers must share that trail with other users ” pedestrians and dogs, for starters.

For daily cross-country grooming reports, call the Nordic Hotline at 429-2039 (ext. 4).

Also on Saturday, the Aspen Town Series begins its weekly Nordic races at various sites. This weekend’s opener features 4-kilometer and 8-kilometer freestyle races at the Aspen Golf Course, starting at 10 a.m.

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Next in the series is the 35th annual Silverboom on Saturday, Dec. 23 at the Snowmass golf course. The 6K and 12K freestyle races start at 10 a.m. at the Snowmass Cross-Country Center. The Kiddieboom 1K begins at noon for young skiers, age 10 and under.

The seven-event series is open to skiers of all ages and levels of ability, with open and sport/beginner groups.

Ashcroft Ski Touring, a privately run cross-country ski center located south of Aspen, in the Castle Creek Valley, is now open Thursdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There’s a $15 fee to ski its groomed trails.

Ashcroft will begin operating daily on Dec. 14.

The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.