Snowmass readies for celebrations, thousands of Front Range skiers | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass readies for celebrations, thousands of Front Range skiers

As Snowmass rings in the big 5-0 starting today, it's all hands on deck through Sunday for those who keep the town running and lifts spinning.

Along with opening nearly 40 more acres of terrain at Snowmass today, Aspen Skiing Co. will start the lifts at 8 a.m. in an effort to alleviate overcrowding on the hill.

After receiving 3 inches of fresh snow Wednesday night, the Funnel Bypass — a beginner run that spans from the top of the Elk Camp gondola down to Base Village — is open to skiers as of today. Also starting today, Skico is allowing people to ride the Elk Camp chairlift to the top for sightseeing but not for skiing.

The Snowmass Police Department is helping regulate parking throughout the village, which police chief Brian Olson said Thursday is his main concern going into this weekend.

"We are giving up all of the parking that we have to accommodate the vehicles here," Olson said. "We're just going to assume that the majority of those $6.50 ticket purchasers are going to show up, regardless of the terrain."

By early November, Skico had sold more than 12,000 of its $6.50 lift tickets to ski Snowmass today and suspended online sales. The $6.50 deal is available today at Snowmass ticket offices.

Skico officials have said the majority of those who bought online are from the Front Range, which Olson said means a lot more vehicles than with Snowmass' "normal tourist traffic."

Olson said he expects the numbered village lots across from the Snowmass Mall and Base Village parking garage to fill up by Friday morning.

Snowmass lodge and business owners as well as other town staff members are discouraging their employees from parking in the village Friday, he said.

The most efficient way to get to and from Snowmass today, according to Olson, is to park at the Intercept Lot and ride the bus into the village.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is doubling down on its Snowmass service to and from the Intercept Lot today, with buses picking up and dropping off riders every 7 to 10 minutes (rather than the standard 15 minutes). Signs along Highway 82 also will encourage visitors to park at the Intercept Lot before entering Snowmass Village.

Other parking options in Snowmass include the Two Creeks lots, which hold more than 470 cars, and the Rodeo Lot in front of the Snowmass Recreation Center, which boasts about 400 spaces.

"It will continue to be a challenge throughout Friday, but we're prepared," Olson said of Snowmass' parking predicament.

With increased driving and lots of alcohol in the mix, the police chief said DUIs are always a concern but that officers will be out on the roads Friday to help mitigate any issues.

"Because the skiing is a little short-sided, the focus on creating the party has increased, and so we're going to staff up and just manage it like it's a big special event," Olson said. "We manage parking, we manage the people, we manage the alcohol consumption, and it's about getting everybody home safe at the end of the night."

erobbie@aspentimes.com

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Snowmass 50th even breakdown:

Today:

8 a.m.: Lifts open

11 a.m.-4 p.m.: Après Ski Party at Base Village featuring live music from DJ GeoDecibel. Face painting and balloon animals in the “kids zone”

12 p.m.: The Red Bull Air Force team will jump out of planes from 5,000 feet, performing stunts as they approach the landing zone on Fanny Hill

12-3 p.m.: Daly Bottle Shop to feature tastings of “Wibby Brewing” out of Longmont (also happening Saturday)

1 p.m.: Snowmass Sports open house with pigs in a blanket and refreshments

2 p.m.: The Edge at The Timberline opens for happy hour with two-for-one specials (also happening Saturday)

2-5 p.m.: Open house at Aspen Sports, The North Face and Patagonias

3 p.m.: Live music at Big Hoss Grill (also happening Saturday)

3-5 p.m.: Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s “art après” with shopping, cookies hot chocolate

3-5:30 p.m.: Venga Venga and Milagro Tequila après ski party featuring giveaways and live music (also happening Saturday)

5 to 9 p.m.: Retro Party at Elk Camp Restaurant (sold out). The Elk Camp gondola will start loading at 5 p.m. and the last ride down is at 9 p.m.

9 p.m.: Slow Groovin BBQ to feature live music from local artists John Carlin, Rob Dasaro and Brad Manisevitz

9 p.m.: Fireworks over Fanny Hill

Saturday, Dec. 16:

10 a.m.: Banana Days kicks off

12 to 4 p.m.: Après at Base Village featuring live music from DJ Benny. Face painting and balloon animals in the “kids zone”

1:30 p.m.: Banana Days party at Elk Camp Restaurant (not at Gwyn’s High Alpine as originally scheduled). Banana Days winners will be announced at the party 2:30 p.m.

5:30: Golden gala at The Viceroy (sold out)

9 p.m.: Slow Groovin BBQ to feature live music from Denver reggae band, UFER

Note: The Starlit Trek on Saturday is cancelled due to lack of snow; however, the dinner at the Black Saddle Bar & Grille, it is still on for those who already purchased tickets.

Sunday, Dec. 17:

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Modern remake of the 1970’s classic cabin jump. Community picnic relocated to Ullrhof (not at Spider Sabich as originally scheduled) featuring Swedish meatballs, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, crepes and more (for $19.67 per person).

For a complete schedule of events, parking information, dining specials, lodging and more, visit http://www.gosnowmass.com/50-years.