Aspen Mountain looks to June 12 opening for summer operations; Snowmass likely June 21

Staff report
The Silver Queen Gondola in Aspen.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

Aspen Skiing Co. plans to launch summer operations at Aspen Mountain on June 12 with some concessions to construction and the coronavirus.

The Silver Queen Gondola will start operating June 12 and run daily through Sept. 6, Skico Senior Vice President John Rigney said Tuesday at an Aspen Chamber Resort Association meeting. The gondola will continue to operate on weekends through Oct. 4.

At Snowmass, the Elk Camp Gondola will start operating June 21 with daily rides through Sept. 6 and then weekends through Oct. 4.

Skico’s plans still need to be reviewed by state and local regulatory agencies to make sure they adhere with proper health precautions, company officials said.

“With the gondolas, we’re lucky because we’re able to load by families or known parties traveling together,” Rigney said.

Individuals who want to ride alone will be accommodated, he said. The gondola cabins will be cleaned and disinfected each day.

Aspen Mountain is looking at disruptions to usual summer activities for reasons that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

“All along we were going to have construction atop Aspen Mountain and our calendar kind of got accelerated a little bit, but there’s still going to be plenty going on,” Rigney said.

Skico is replacing the roof on the Sundeck and undertaking other projects on the upper mountain, including expanding the snowmaking system.

There will be hiking, a sightseeing deck and “limited activities” on the lawn, Rigney said. The Sundeck will offer “grab-and-go” food only. Bathrooms will be available inside and seating outside.

The goal is to reopen the Sundeck in mid-July, he said.

Skico is anticipating more normal operations at Snowmass. The gondola will provide access to the bike park, hiking trails and the Lost Forest — which will open the climbing wall, the alpine coasters and the challenge course. There will be no canopy cruiser for the time being, Rigney said.

“The bike park, we’re looking forward to a great opening,” Rigney said. “You can see bikers were all over the place in Snowmass this weekend.”

Buttermilk is being considered as the venue for a one-off event or a series of events with collaborators, Rigney said. Details are still being worked out.

Realistically, he concluded, the number of guests will be limited this year.

“We’re focusing on the drive-to market,” Rigney said. “We’re not going to see as much air traffic.”

Pricing and other details of Skico’s summer activities will be released later this week.