Highlands opens, hills at full-tilt | AspenTimes.com

Highlands opens, hills at full-tilt

Charles Agar

Charles Agar/The Aspen Times

A first day at Aspen Highlands and the opening of expanded terrain on Aspen Mountain meant skiing Saturday in the Roaring Fork Valley was a no-lose proposition. Highlands greeted 2,000 skiers and boarders, just a few hundred shy of last year’s opening day tally, and 1,850 hit Aspen Mountain for fresh tracks on expanded terrain near the Ruthie’s chairlift.”Not bad for two weeks between snowstorms,” said Monique Spears. She and her husband, Joe, hit Highlands in the morning and were surprised by the thin crowds, great weather and numerous powder stashes.Snowboarders Mark Cesark of Carbondale and Mike McKie of Missouri Heights had good luck at Highlands, they said. They got out before the 8:30 a.m. planned start and were surprised by an early ride up the lift.

McKie took issue with Ajax faithfuls, like Roger Marolt, who predicted a crowded opening day at Highlands, and recommended going to Aspen.”All of those guys can stay out there. There were plenty of good stashes on Highlands today,” McKie said.Jen Alter, a ski ambassador, was busy Saturday handing out cups of water and offering sunscreen to skiers near the Merry-Go-Round sundeck.”It’s such a perfect opening day,” she said. The sun was out, the snow conditions were great and there wasn’t a rock in site, at least not on her two hour morning tour of the mountain, she said. “It’s truly phenomenal.”Saturday was Aspenite Jesse Amory’s 22nd birthday, and he and his “tele crew” were recovering from last night’s celebration and enjoying a glorious morning, he said.

“The bowl is skiing pretty good,” Amory said, although only the G-zones (skier’s right) were open. “It’s pretty soft in the trees, but when it’s open it’s pretty chopped up,” he said.”And it’s not crowded at all,” Amory said. “You can ski right on the lift.”Aspen skiers had similar reports.”I chose Aspen because I didn’t want to deal with crowds on the first day at Highlands,” Aspenite Courtney Clark said. “Highlands is always there.”Aspen’s Dumps were soft with fresh snow, she said. And, the weather was warm and the mountain was full of smiling people.

“I think all the people who went up today, whether on Aspen or Highlands, knew what they were looking for,” she added.”Liquid fun,” is how Chris Seldin dubbed Aspen Mountain Saturday. “The Face of Bell was just perfect. Nice and soft with no bumps.”Most out on the hill Saturday, whether at Aspen or Highlands, were grinning ear to ear and so was Terry Broadbent at the day’s end. The visitor from Roseville, Calif., started his day at Highlands, but turned back when the parking lot was full.”Heck, why ski over there?” he said, and opted for a great day on the Aspen corduroy instead.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.