Highlands, B’milk pose big challenge | AspenTimes.com

Highlands, B’milk pose big challenge

The Aspen Skiing Co. will open more trails on Aspen Mountain today, but opening any terrain at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk poses a challenge.

The Skico announced that it will start operating the Bell Mountain chairlift Tuesday on Aspen Mountain. Skiers will be able to ride the Little Nell chair to the Bell chair, get off the upper lift and travel down Deer Park to Spar Gulch for skiing to the bottom. Lift tickets will be increased to $29.

Even though the Bell lift is opening, the terrain on Bell Mountain itself isn’t ready to open yet.

“We are only six inches away from having top-to-bottom skiing,” said Steve Sewell, Aspen Mountain manager. “Spar Gulch has a solid base and snowmakers have now moved the snowmaking guns and their energies over to the Ruthie’s run.”

At Snowmass, the Skico is operating the Fanny Hill, Coney Glade and Sam’s Knob high-speed quad chairlifts as well as the Burlingame double chair. Lift tickets there are also $29.

The Skico hasn’t announced what, if anything, customers can expect to find at Highlands and Buttermilk on Saturday. Dec. 11. Both ski areas’ seasons debuts appear to be in jeopardy.

As anyone who has walked up Buttermilk recently can attest, grass and even old cowpies are in abundance in the middle of ski trails.

For Highlands, it might be a case of being all dressed up with no one to show. The parking lot and base day lodge that are part of developer Gerald Hines’ new Highlands Village are ready for customers, whenever the ski area opens. The ticket office and other ski services are located in the day lodge.

Skico officials – along with thousands of locals – are hoping that storms in the forecast for Wednesday and the end of the week dump enough snow to open more terrain.

“I’m sure we won’t make a decision until we see what the storm brings,” said Skico spokeswoman Rose Abello.

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