Snowmass welcomes sun after months of snow |

Snowmass welcomes sun after months of snow

Robert Weller
Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” A cell phone conversation recently overheard in Snowmass: “Hey, do you have some sun over there. We saw some over the weekend. It was great after 70 days of clouds and snow. People were acting like they were in Scandinavia on a warm day. Out in shorts and clogs.”

Despite record snow in some areas most major Colorado ski areas will close in early or mid-April, with Aspen the only one considering staying open.

“We haven’t decided. We are definitely exploring it,” said Aspen spokesman Jeff Hanle. “We have to watch the rest of February and March for the snowfall. The sentiment in town is to do it and we’d like to oblige them.”

He said if any terrain remains open it likely would be Snowmass Village, Aspen’s cash cow, because construction work needs to begin at Aspen Mountain as soon the season ends.

Nick Bohnenkamp of Colorado Ski Country said a resort that wanted to stay open could close in phases just like they open. “They can move snow around the movement to keep some terrain in good shape,” he said.

Vail merchants pushed for one more week. They lost business both because of a balmy fall and construction of a still incomplete $1 billion renovation that has already made what had become an eyesore an eye-catching reason to come into the Lionshead base area.

Vail declined. It also has much work left to do.

Chris Jarnot, vice president for marketing and sales at Vail, said it will close as scheduled on April 13. He said the early arrival of Easter this year means college kids will be taking their spring break early. Jarnot said the resort will focus on getting as many guests to come between March 29 and its closing day.

Although Vail, more so than Aspen, can rely on Denver-area snowriders to supplement its numbers, Coloradans traditionally have switched to golf or other outdoor sports once spring arrives.

For those who still want to ride, Arapahoe Basin doesn’t even have a closing date. It will be open into June with 80 percent more terrain than it had before an expansion in January.

“We’re just another thing to do in the summer,” said spokeswoman Leigh Heizholzer. “What a change? People were so upset in November. People expect the snow to be there and when it doesn’t come in they panic.”

Loveland expects to close in May.

Monarch, one of the small resorts, will stay open an extra week. The resort reported 93 inches of snow Friday, with a total of more than 350 inches for the season. They will close April 13.

The late arrival of snow gave construction workers at many resorts more time to finish as much as they could on what seems the never-ending effort to keep up with other resorts who are remodeling.

As of Friday the statewide snowpack average was 137 percent of the 30-year average, and there was standing water at many locations on Interstate 70 west of Vail, reducing traffic to one lane. Last year on this date it was 86 percent.

Officials are concerned that flooding could follow what is likely to be the wettest winter since 1983-84, and could even surpass it.

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