‘Just about everybody’ expected at Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

‘Just about everybody’ expected at Snowmass

Steve Benson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

With 5 feet of new snow in the past three weeks, Snowmass Mountain opens tomorrow, almost a week in advance.

Yesterday I was “assigned” to investigate the preseason conditions, and all I can say is Skico is not exaggerating ” it’s deep.

Five lifts, including Fanny Hill, Cony Glade, Sam’s Knob, Big Burn and the Ski School Poma, will serve 560 acres of terrain and 28 trails.

Jeff Hanle, the communications director for Skico, said the early opening is designed for locals.

“It’s something we look to do every year,” he said. “It’s a great thing for the community, to get up on the hill before they have to start working really hard.

“If the weather cooperates, we’d do it every year.”

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is calling for a chance of snow through the weekend.

The High Alpine Lift, which the good men and women of the Snowmass Ski Patrol opened Thursday to mountain employees, guests and the media, will probably not open officially until Thanksgiving, Hanle said.

And for good reason.

There’s plenty of bounty in the Headwall, but large boulders continue to loom just below the surface, and wind-exposed ridges are rocky and grassy in spots. Ski patrollers continue to boot- and ski-pack much of the terrain.

While snow-friendly faces and bowls are basically bottomless, they will be saved for the holiday crowds. “We’re going to hold some stuff off for [Thanksgiving],” Hanle said.

As for Saturday at Snowmass, Hanle expects a good turnout.

“Just about everybody who’s got a ski pass,” he said.

If you don’t have a pass, the Snowmass lift ticket is $59.

Aspen Mountain is still slated to open Nov. 27, with Highlands and Buttermilk both opening Dec. 13.

All four mountains have some new upgrades.

The Ajax Express lift, which was one of the original high-speed quads in the country, has been replaced with the latest and greatest in chairlift technology.

“It will be much more reliable,” Hanle said.

The lift has been slightly realigned, providing more room at the bottom and top for loading and unloading. Additionally, the Sundeck has also expanded.

“We’ve always had demand for more seating there,” Hanle said.

At Snowmass, the Campground lift has been replaced to improve reliability, and the terrain park has numerous added features. While the main terrain park won’t be open Saturday, the mini terrain park will be in operation.

Highlands has a new ski patrol shack, and Buttermilk’s pipe has been dug into the ground.

Single-day lift tickets are $72 at all four resorts this season.

[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com]

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