Reveling in Sunlight snow
GLENWOOD SPRINGS Skiers and snowboarders filled every seat of the battered orange Land Cruiser and the passenger trailer it tows, which takes skiers and snowboarders from the lower parking lot to the slopes Saturday at Sunlight Mountain Resort. A skier occupied the passenger seat next to the operator as well.All three parking lots at Sunlight were filled by midday.We had a strong weekend, said resort general manager Tom Jankovsky. It was about average compared to [the same time] a year ago, but we were really strong on season pass holders on Saturday.According to Jankovsky, more than 900 season pass holders rode the lifts Saturday, and thats the highest recorded number of season pass holders on the mountain near Glenwood Springs on a single day.It was a huge weekend for us, said marketing manager Dylan Lewis. It was the busiest weekend of the year for us so far.For Saturday the resort tracked around 1,400 skiers and snowboarders. Sunday had about 1,500 on the mountain. The number of skiers caused some small lift lines, but not enough to keep people waiting for long.The resort tracks the different types of tickets, such as daily, group and season passes. The surge in season pass-holders last weekend made up for a slow week of individual daily ticket sales.We werent as strong with the other ticket sales, we were just really strong on the season pass holders, Jankovsky said.Jankovsky said the great weather was to thank for the heavy ski traffic on the mountain this past weekend.We just had great snow all week and people are excited about skiing, he said. The quality of the snow is great, the mountain is in great shape, and thats been great for us.Jankovsky said the primary driver of ticket sales in January and February is usually the Ski, Stay, Swim program marketed by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, in conjunction with the Hot Springs Lodge & Pool and other area lodges. But theres been a shift this year with a larger showing from local enthusiasts who purchase season passes.The biggest change weve seen in demographics is being strong with local skiers from western Garfield County, places like Parachute and Rifle, Jankovsky said.Snow reportThe Aspen Skiing Co. reported 4 inches of new snow at Aspen Mountain over the past 24 hours in its Thursday morning report. Buttermilk picked up 3 inches, and Snowmass and Aspen Highlands received 2 inches.Avalanche reportThe Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for the Aspen zone on Thursday, Jan. 17:The avalanche danger is considerable on northeast, east, southeast and south aspects near and above treeline. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered ones probable. Triggered avalanches may be large and destructive. The avalanche danger on all other aspects near and above treeline and all slopes below treeline is moderate. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible, and they could be very large.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.