Machinery slows Aspen powder day |

Machinery slows Aspen powder day

Tim Clement of Aspen hits a jump on Red's Run after a weekend storm dumped more than 2 feet on Aspen Mountain. (Joel Stonington/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN ” A broken piece of machinery on the gondola Sunday slowed the opening of Aspen Mountain on the first major powder day of the year, after a winter storm left 20 inches in 24 hours.

Snowmass got 29 inches and Aspen Mountain received 27 inches of new snow during the two-day storm. Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, which open Dec. 8, each picked up 20 inches in the last 24 hours of the storm, the Skico reported.

Hundreds of people waited for more than an hour Sunday morning in Gondola Plaza while a bar was replaced that guides the cable on the gondola and keeps it at a safe distance from the drive assembly, said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.

Snowmass was able to open Big Burn on Sunday and Aspen Mountain opened Sunrise/Sunset, Red’s Run and the higher parts of Back of Bell and Face of Bell.

Hanle said folks will still need to download on the gondola during the day Monday, but that top-to-bottom skiing will open Tuesday or Wednesday. Though higher parts of the mountain got up to 30 inches, it rained on lower parts of the mountain during early parts of this latest storm.

“We have some more snowmaking on Nell to get things ready, so we’ll just keep blowing snow, get it moved around and open her up,” said Hanle. “That will be a fine day because all of the drops down into Spar will be very good.”

Among other ski areas around Colorado, the southwestern resorts picked up plenty of snow ” more than three feet fell at Wolf Creek and Silverton in the two-day storm. Telluride reported 13 inches of new snow over 24 hours on Sunday morning.

Elsewhere, Vail reported 11 inches over a 24-hour period Sunday morning, Steamboat picked up nine inches, Winter Park received 10.5 inches, Beaver Creek picked up 15 inches, Crested Butte reported 19 inches, and Loveland received 10 inches.

The avalanche rating for the mountains surrounding Aspen remained high for a second straight day Sunday, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center; an avalanche watch remained in effect for the Aspen zone.

“With snow forecasted to continue through the evening hours and some stronger southwest winds transporting that snow, expect to see a big increase in avalanche danger in the backcountry today [Sunday],” the CAIC said.

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