The Wall opens today at Snowmass |

The Wall opens today at Snowmass

Aspen Times Staff

The ropes come down today on more than 600 acres of mostly untracked powder on the Hanging Valley Wall at Snowmass.

“The avalanche crews skied down with snow packed in their beards. Enough said,” said Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operation for the Aspen Skiing Co., in an e-mail update.

Tomorrow, of course, brings the opening of Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, but the west side of Aspen Mountain ” the Ruthie’s side ” will also make its season debut, finally.

The additional terrain on Ajax means 566 acres (out of 673) will be open. The Ruthie’s and FIS chairs will start running Saturday, Dec. 9, but the Shadow Mountain lift, better known as 1A, will not be operating at the base. Skiers and riders will have to take the summer road back to Little Nell and the gondola for a ride back up the mountain.

Look for temporary openings in The Dumps on Saturday, hints the Skico. Open runs on the Ruthie’s side will also include Ruthie’s Run, Gene Reardon’s, Aztec, Spring Pitch, Straw Pile and Slalom Hill, among others.

Aspen Highlands will open Saturday with more than 75 percent of its terrain accessible, including the G zones in the Bowl. Most of the front side will be open (not Golden Horn and the lower steeps). The Exhibition, Cloud Nine, Loge Peak and Deep Temerity lifts will be operating, as will the Merry Go Round and Cloud Nine restaurants. Debuting for the apres scene is the new ZG Grill (formerly Iguanas).

Parking at Highlands is $10, but free for vehicles of four or more occupants (up from last year’s three). Parking is limited and the Skico is urging skiers and riders to ride the free skier shuttle to and from the mountain.

Buttermilk will open all of its lifts on Saturday, along with 23 runs and 60 percent of the terrain. Both Bumps and the Cliffhouse restaurants will be open. The S3 mini park will open on Red’s and Powder Pandas will be open for children’s lessons.

Parking is free at the base; Buttermilk is also served by free shuttle buses.

Free buses run between Aspen and Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. In addition, buses run between Buttermilk and Highlands throughout the day. The first shuttle leaves Buttermilk for Aspen Highlands at 7 a.m. and runs every 15 minutes from 7 to 11:15 a.m. and from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the shuttles run every half-hour.

By the way, a daily lift ticket is $72 today, but it jumps to $82 on Saturday for adults.

The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.

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