On the hill: Snow, baby, snow
ASPEN – Rich Burkley was pulling out all the stops this week to try to make it snow in Aspen.
The vice president of operations for the Aspen Skiing Co. sent his kid off to school in Crocs Thursday, figuring the lack of foot preparation would bring the white stuff. He had the Aspen Mountain lift crew keep the Silver Queen Gondola cabins on line rather than pull them into storage as is customary when snow is expected.
“We’re doing all the superstitious things,” he said.
And with good reason. Data collected at the Skico’s snow station near Cloud 9 Restaurant at Aspen Highlands showed there were 185 millimeters of water content in the snowpack, Burkley said Thursday morning. The median for this time of winter is 258 millimeters. The lowest season-to-date was 111 millimeters back in 2000.
As of Thursday morning, this season ranked in the 20th percentile for snowfall over the past 30 years, according to Burkley. In other words, only six seasons have been drier since 1980. Three of them came between 1999 and 2001, he said.
Powder days have been few and far between so far this season, making some natives restless, but conditions on the groomers are holding up surprisingly well. Burkley said he’s been visiting each of the Skico’s four hills to personally thank the cat crews for doing a phenomenal job grooming the slopes.
Recent storms have come tantalizingly close to Aspen. Purgatory at Durango reported 18 inches of snow in its Thursday snow report. Silverton tallied 17 inches, and Wolf Creek logged a foot of powder. But the storm pattern has stayed south.
Aspen’s luck is supposed to change, with snow supposedly piling up over the next few days. Burkley figured talking to a newspaper Thursday about the lack of snow would help change the fortunes.
“If we get a foot we’re back on average,” he said.
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Eagle County will go to Stage 2 fire restrictions Friday, joining Pitkin County and other state and federal lands in the area.