Lack of snow forces delay of Aspen’s nordic season
November 23, 2011
ASPEN – While Aspen Mountain opens to skiing and riding today, the cross-country ski season is on indefinite hold.
The Aspen Cross Country Center opens Thursday at the Aspen Golf Club, as it traditionally does on Thanksgiving Day, but anyone looking to kick and glide across the golf course to burn a few calories before the big feast is likely out of luck. There’s a lot of bare grass interspersed with the thin snow cover. The golf course pond isn’t even frozen.
“It’s not totally unusual for us not to be skiing at this time of year,” said Austin Weiss, Aspen trails coordinator. Local enthusiasts, however, likely recall the good trail conditions already available by this time last year.
For about 2 1/2 weeks this season, two small loops were groomed for skate skiing on the Moore fields behind the Aspen schools complex. They have since disappeared.
At this point, there’s little that can be done until it snows. “One good storm and we can open all the terrain, basically,” Weiss said.
The forecast, however, calls for sunshine Thursday, a 40 percent chance of snow Friday and then a return to clear skies through early next week.
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Lack of snow has also delayed the start of the season at Ashcroft, a privately run cross-country ski area south of Aspen, even though it’s located at a higher elevation. The Pine Creek Cookhouse, the restaurant operated in association with Ashcroft Ski Touring as well as a sleigh ride operation, did not open for Thanksgiving. Restaurant operators are now hoping for a Dec. 2 or 3 opening.
The Aspen High School and Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard cross-country teams headed to the Steamboat Springs area early this week to ski on Rabbit Ears Pass, according to Weiss.
The groomed nordic system atop the Grand Mesa, outside of Grand Junction, is reportedly in good shape, he added.
For those who want to get their skis waxed in preparation for the season yet to come, the Aspen Cross Country Center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Paul Perley, general manager at Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, which operates both the Aspen center and the Snowmass Cross Country Center. The Snowmass center – in the clubhouse at the Snowmass Club golf course – is scheduled to open Dec. 10, operating from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Both centers offer rental gear for skate and classic-style skiing, as well as lessons. Once the season is under way, the Aspen center will offer a class in classic skiing fundamentals daily at 11 a.m. and skate fundamentals at 12:15 p.m. The fee for the 45-minute classes is $35 (the price doesn’t include gear). Private lessons are $60 for an hour and $45 for 30 minutes.
Snowmass offers skate classes at noon on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and at 1:30 p.m. on Sundays. Classic lessons take place at 11 a.m. daily.