Ski season over the hump
Here’s hoping the second half of the ski season matches the first half.
Wednesday was “hump day” for the scheduled ski season — 72 days down and 72 days to go, according to Aspen Skiing Co. The season actually will be longer because of an early opening at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass.
Aspen Mountain received 15 feet of snow between Oct. 1 and Friday, with Aspen Highlands and Snowmass right behind, according to Skico spokesman and record tracker Jeff Hanle.
There were eight powder days of 6 inches or more as of 5 a.m. A handful of other days ended up being 6-inch days with snow piling up after 5 a.m., he said.
Last week, 24 inches of snow fell in a 24-hour period, and the three-day storm graced the slopes with nearly 3 feet of snow.
“It’s certainly one of the top five biggest storms ever, if not one of the top three, in the last 50 years,” Hanle said.
There’s no comparison in snowfall between this season and last season. So far this year, 180 inches has fallen. Last year it was only 107 inches over the same period.
However, this year isn’t blowing away winters during this century, contrary to current perceptions. Since 2000, there have been five seasons with as much or more snow as this season at this point in the winter, Skico’s records indicate.
This winter has been unusual because low temperatures maintained abundant early-season snow and few storms have been accompanied by wind, Hanle said. In short, it’s been a dream for powder lovers despite the dry spell for much of January.
Roaring Fork Valley residents have taken advantage of the powder. As of Wednesday, 498 people had skied or snowboarded 50 days or more, according to Skico.
Season-pass usage overall is up.
“It certainly has taken a leap,” Hanle said. “It’s all snow-driven.”
Skico also has noticed that use of the Mountain Collective Pass in Aspen has increased this season. That pass is good for two days each at Alta and Snowbird in Utah; Jackson Hole in Wyoming; Mammoth, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley in California; and Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia as well as Aspen-Snowmass.
Destination-skier business is also up so far this season compared with last.
“Big snow is good for locals and good for business,” Hanle said.
The early indications are that the second half of the season will remain on a roll. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Aspen through 6 p.m. Saturday. The website OpenSnow.com said this: “Instead of the heaviest snow falling on Thursday night through Friday night, now I think the best snow will fall on Saturday, Sunday, and especially Monday. The central mountains around Aspen should do the best.”
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