Snowmass ski area opens Nov. 21 | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass ski area opens Nov. 21

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Thanks to some timely weather systems arriving this month, Aspen/Snowmass was able to get an early start to its ski season this past weekend.

Aspen Mountain opened for what Aspen Skiing Co. called a "preview weekend" Nov. 14-15, and on Nov. 21, Ajax and Snowmass ski area will both open for the season, five days ahead of their scheduled openings.

Thanks to the winter storm appropriately named Ajax that swept through Colorado this week, Snowmass received another foot of fresh snow, according to Skico. Snowmass Mountain Manager Steve Sewell said Nov. 17 that Snowmass had a 28-inch base on top.

The Village Express lift will be running this weekend with top-to-bottom skiing, most likely including Max Park and some of the runs starting below the midway station, Sewell said. Crews are working to have a couple of runs on the Big Burn ready too, he said, and the Elk Camp Gondola will be running to provide access to the Meadows beginner area.

“Everyone’s jonesing, ready to go skiing, myself included.”Steve SewellSnowmass mountain manager

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"A lot of it depends on how it grooms out," Sewell said.

A temporary park with some rails, boxes and other features will be set up below Coney Glade lift, the usual site for park features on Snowmass during early season. Elk Camp Restaurant, Ullrhof, the coffee shop at Sam's Knob and possibly Up 4 Pizza will be open this weekend.

Because the Burn receives a healthy heaping of natural snow, snowmaking crews prioritize runs on the west side of the mountain that enable top-to-bottom skiing from there, Sewell said. Next they move to the bottom of the Burn and Sam's Knob, while also working on the Meadows and Funnel on the opposite side of the mountain.

Groomers have been running snowcats to pack the base for about the past 10 days, Sewell said. The park and pipe crew arrived Sept. 1 to begin working on and building new features, and lift maintenance workers have also been on hand this fall, particularly to help complete the new High Alpine lift, on track to start running Dec. 11.

"I like opening early," Sewell said. "This is an exciting time of the year. … Quite frankly it's my favorite time of the season.

"Everyone's jonesing, ready to go skiing, myself included."

jill@snowmasssun.com