More terrain open at Snowmass; snow expected Friday |

More terrain open at Snowmass; snow expected Friday

Over 50 people enjoy drinks appetizers and entrees at the new Sam's restaurant on Sam's Knob at Snowmass, Nov. 27, 2019. The eatery's menu dubs it "Italian-influenced mountain soul" food (Maddie Vincent/The Aspen Times).
Maddie Vincent/The Aspen Times

Hundreds of people got some pre-turkey turns at Snowmass on Thursday when Aspen Skiing Co. opened up over 400 acres of new terrain for the holiday.

However, although there is more snow and more trails are open, it’s early-season conditions at Snowmass. Tall grass, saplings and rocks poked out of the snow on some of the newly opened trails Thursday morning and, according to the grooming report there was a 29-inch base at the top of Sam’s Knob and a 21-inch base midway.

“It’s pretty thin out there so be careful, take it easy and get the cobwebs out. No one needs to get injured and ruin their season,” said Susan Cross, mountain manager at Snowmass.

Skico announced its decision to open seven runs off of the Big Burn and Elk Camp chairlifts, along with nearly 200 more acres on Aspen Mountain, after the Aspen-Snowmass area received 25 inches of snow over the past week, including 10 inches in 48 hours Monday night into Tuesday.

Cross said snowmakers were able to get enough flakes on the trail connections needed to open the Big Burn and Elk Camp trails, and that continuing to make snow on the mountain’s connecting trails will be key to opening more terrain.

“The natural snow will help the conditions for sure, but as far as opening more terrain, we need to get some more man-made snow on the connections, which we’re working on,” Cross said. “But the natural snow has been a game changer.”

More natural snow is expected to hit Aspen-Snowmass again this weekend with “total snow accumulations of 8 to 12 inches with locally higher amounts up to 18 inches (and) winds gusting as high as 40 to 50 mph,” according to the National Weather Service.

As a result of the incoming storm, the NWS Grand Junction office issued a winter weather advisory early Thursday for much of western Colorado, including Aspen-Snowmass, that runs from 5 a.m. Friday until 11 p.m. Saturday.

The storm is forecast to hit by Thursday evening after 9 p.m. and the highest rates of snow are expected to fall Friday morning into the afternoon, making travel difficult, the NWS said.

Cross said she doesn’t know if the expected snow storm will lead to more trail openings at Snowmass this weekend, but said natural snow always improves skiing and snowboarding conditions.

Skiier and snowboarder numbers held steady Monday through the Thanksgiving holiday, Cross said, and the ski area expects a bigger push of people Friday.

At Snowmass, the Village Express lift will run 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and all other lifts will run 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Ullrhof, Up 4 Pizza, and the new Sam’s restaurant also are open for the season.