Skico officials continue to watch weather before deciding if Aspen Mountain will open early |

Skico officials continue to watch weather before deciding if Aspen Mountain will open early

A skier charges down the Cutoff trail on Aspen Mountain Saturday, May 25, 2019, during the first of three bonus days during Memorial Day Weekend.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times

Officials at the Aspen Skiing Co. will continue to monitor the weather this week before announcing if they plan to open Aspen Mountain earlier than its scheduled Thanksgiving day start.

Skico vice president of communications Jeff Hanle said over the weekend the October snow was a good base.

“We need a change in the weather pattern,” Hanle said Saturday. “We’re getting good snowmaking in the evenings, but we need some more natural snow up top.”

Skico received approval this year to add 53 acres of snowmaking at the top of Aspen Mountain, but that won’t start until next season.  It will cover One and Two Leaf, Silver Bell, Dipsy Doodle, Buckhorn, North American and Copper Trail. When it starts, that will improve early-season top-to-bottom skiing in the future.

Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are scheduled to open Nov. 28. Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk are slated to open Dec. 7.

“We will have to see if the weather pattern changes like they’re saying in the middle of the month,” Hanle said.

A number of Colorado resorts opened or are set to open early, and for some it marks their earliest ever.  Arapahoe Basin opened first on Oct. 11, followed a few hours later by Keystone. Winter Park opened Nov. 2, its earliest start in its 80 seasons; Eldora had its earlier opening when it started spinning Nov. 1, two weeks ahead of schedule.

Copper Mountain and Breckenridge opened Friday, and Steamboat Springs announced it will open Nov. 15, its earliest ever opening.

The Aspen Water Department’s unofficial weather report showed that the water plant  received 26.5 inches of snow in October. That made it one of the snowiest Octobers ever since records were kept starting in 1934-35.

The average snowfall for the month is just shy of 9 inches. Aspen’s record snowfall for the month is 41.45 inches in 1984-85. The last time the water plant recorded more snowfall in October than this year was 1997-98 when 27.7 inches fell.

Aspen Mountain is coming off one of its longest seasons ever (168 days). The mountain opened five days early on Nov. 17, 2018, with 180 acres of top-to-bottom skiing and riding, and offered about 100 acres during the Food & Wine Classic in mid-June.

After “closing” on April 21, Skico reopened the top of Aspen Mountain for four weekends starting with three days over Memorial Day Weekend. There was a 66-inch base for the reopening during the holiday weekend.

Last season was the first time since 2008 that Ajax was open for skiing during the Classic, with riding on Saturday and Sunday (June 15-16).

Aspen Highlands opened for two bonus weekends in April after its scheduled April 14 closing. Highland Bowl picked up 102 inches in March, helping with the late-season base.

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