New chairlift, more terrain open on Aspen’s ski slopes | AspenTimes.com

New chairlift, more terrain open on Aspen’s ski slopes

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

With snow in the forecast all weekend, Snowmass' newest chairlift will start turning Friday while Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk ski areas open for the season Saturday.

The new High Alpine chairlift has been under construction on Snowmass since the end of last season. After passing its load test two weeks ago, it will start turning with a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Stretching 5,300 feet, the upper terminal of the new High Alpine is slightly higher and to skier's left of the patrol shack at the top of the hill. The bottom terminal is now on the other side of the High Alpine restaurant on the lower Green Cabin run. The high-speed quad reduces ride time from 11 minutes to just over 5 1/2 minutes, even as its route has been lengthened and relocated.

Snowmass improvements this summer also included new snowmaking guns on the Green Cabin run that have already been up and running. The total project, which also involved glading of some tree trails in the area, cost Aspen Skiing Co. $8 million.

This will also be the opening weekend for Gwyn's High Alpine restaurant, which is hosting a free breakfast and toast as part of the lift's opening celebrations. Gwyn's posted photos of the lift's progress to its Facebook page throughout its construction.

"It's exciting to have something new and different up here," said manager Whitney Gordon.

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In addition, both the Elk Camp and Sheer Bliss lifts will open at Snowmass along with most of the terrain accessed by each, increasing the mountain's available terrain to 1,212 acres, according to Skico.

Highlands, Buttermilk

Aspen Highlands will open with 707 acres of terrain, including all of the front-side blue terrain spanning from Thunderbowl to Jerome, as well as the G-O to G-8 portion of Highland Bowl, Skico said. All lifts at Aspen Highlands will be spinning and both the Cloud Nine High Alpine Bistro — ready to showcase a recent $1.1 million dollar remodel — as well as the Merry-Go-Round restaurant will be open with on-mountain food and beverage service.

Buttermilk will spin the Summit Express lift, Buttermilk West lift to the mid-station and Panda Peak with access to 235 acres of available terrain on opening day. The upper portion of the east side of trails off Tiehack will be open with a return to Main via Sterner Catwalk. Both Red's and Teaser will offer a selection of park features. Bumps and the Cliffhouse restaurants will be open with food and beverage options and Children's Ski & Snowboard School lessons will be available through the Hideout Children's Center. Treats will be served in the base area from 9 to 10 a.m. followed by s'mores and a hot cocoa bar from 1 to 4 p.m. Bumps restaurant will have a chocolate fountain flowing from 2 to 4 p.m.

And on Aspen Mountain, Lift 1A will start turning and the 5th Avenue connector trails will open.

All of the festivities will be enhanced by up to a foot of fresh snow, if forecasts hold true. As of press time Thursday, the National Weather Service was calling for accumulation of 6 to 12 inches in the Aspen/Snowmass area over the course of Friday and Saturday.

jill@snowmasssun.com