Aspen Highlands to debut with 266 acres, Aspen Mtn. will add Ruthie’s Run on Saturday | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Highlands to debut with 266 acres, Aspen Mtn. will add Ruthie’s Run on Saturday

After a slow start out of the gate, Aspen Skiing Co. is preparing to open significant amounts of new terrain at Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands on Saturday.

Highlands will make its season debut one week late on Saturday, but it will start with a decent bang. About 266 acres of terrain is expected to open, said Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications.

"A portion of the G zones in the Highland Bowl, Golden Horn, and Thunderbowl will all be ready to rumble," Skico said on its "mountain announcements" web page.

Skico also has "hope" that several runs will open off the Loge chairlift.

The main option off the hill will be downloading the Exhibition chairlift. Skiers and riders can also traverse across T-Lazy catwalk to ski down Thunderbowl. Merry-Go-Round restaurant will be open for business.

Aspen Mountain will open Ruthie's Run on Saturday, adding to its 259 skiable acres already open. Bonnie's restaurant opens today (Friday).

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Hanle said the snowmaking crew, snowcat drivers and others in mountain operations at Aspen Mountain are "performing almost miracles getting it to where it is."

Mother Nature hasn't provided much natural snow to start the season and unseasonably warm temperatures into November hampered snowmaking. Crews have been blowing snow at every opportunity now that temperatures have dropped. Aspen Mountain is at about par with the amount of snow made compared to other seasons, according to Hanle. Snowmass and Aspen Highlands are a bit behind normal snowmaking amounts for this time while Buttermilk is much further behind because of its lower elevation and, thus, higher temperatures this fall.

Hanle said Skico's focus is on getting terrain open for the holidays. Getting super pipes and terrain parks open for the U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass Jan. 10-14 and the Winter X Games at Buttermilk Jan. 25-28 hasn't been a priority yet, he said.

Snowmass and Buttermilk are facing a tougher time getting terrain open this season. The Funnel trail at Snowmass will open today, boosting the total skiable terrain to about 130 acres, according to Skico. That will allow skiers and riders to ski from the top of the Elk Camp Gondola down to the base.

Buttermilk has been able to open only Panda Peak for skiing thus far. The Summit chairlift will open for sightseers between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily. That provides access to the Cliffhouse restaurant.

While Skico is steadily employing more workers, it is continuing to feed those who haven't got the call yet. It started providing dinners to unemployed workers after Thanksgiving with meals rotating between Bumps at Buttermilk and the Tree House at Snowmass on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

"I think we've got them through next week, so far," Hanle said. That could be adjusted based on need.

Skico is working on alternative activities to offer tourists during the week between Christmas and New Year's, so that will put more people to work, Hanle said. The company isn't ready to share the list of activities yet.

scondon@aspentimes.com

LIFT TICKET PRICES CLIMB

Aspen Skiing Co.’s single-day, window lift ticket prices will climb faster than snowfall totals, if it sticks to the plan. The planned prices might be adjusted according to the terrain that is opened. Following are the prices in the current plan.

Skico will increase its single-day, window lift ticket price to $155 on Saturday from the current rate of $135, according to its website. (Update: Skico decided to keep the price at $135 for the week of Dec. 16-22.)

On Saturday, Dec. 23, the price will leap to $169 through Jan. 1, when it will return to $155 through Feb. 9.

From Feb. 10 through April 7 the price will be $169.

Starting April 8, the price will drop back to $155 per day.

Skico offers discounts on multi-day, advanced purchases. For example, a seven-of-10-day ticket during the holiday week costs $973 with an advance purchase. Seven days at the walk-up window price during that week would be $1,183.

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