This is why they call ’em the Rockies |

This is why they call ’em the Rockies

Aspen Times Staff Report

Although the calendar says January, skier and riders on the slopes last weekend could have sworn it was April.

Warm temperatures and scouring winds took their toll last week, particularly at Snowmass and Buttermilk. The majority of the Big Burn at Snowmass was closed starting Thursday until further notice.

Drastically reduced numbers of skiers and riders ventured out Saturday to try to find good snow elsewhere on the mountain. It could be found, but only in small doses.

Rocks littered the runs on Elk Camp and some trails there remain closed. Some of the best snow on the upper trails was found on High Alpine, but skiers and riders had to stay alert or risk tearing up the bottoms of their boards.

So few people were out and about that customers could walk right through the line in the cafeteria and easily find a spot to sit at High Alpine restaurant, usually packed to the rafters on Saturdays.

Single-day lift ticket prices for Snowmass were reduced last week to $45. The Skico also decided Monday to reduce the ticket price at Buttermilk to $45. It remains $57 at Highlands and Aspen Mountain.

“Buttermilk is where the patrol is earning its pay,” said Skico vice president of mountain operations Mike Kaplan. Snow was being shoveled at bare spots on the slopes.

However, at Tiehack on Friday, skiers and riders found carefully groomed runs with relatively few rocky patches.

Most of the skiing was on hard-pack, but there were, according to one skier, “a few patches of softened crud that really skied just like snow. It wasn’t bad at all.”

On Aspen Mountain, there were plenty of rocks to be found, but there was also some good skiing, according to those who ventured out.

Said one skier, “It was like spring skiing. The Glades off Gent’s, down into Copper, were great. But we tried the mine dumps and there were rocks all over Last Dollar.”

Other runs drew similar reviews: some good snow, some icy hard-pack, lots of rocks.

Said the skier, “The snow conditions were kind of iffy, but the weather Saturday was so great. It wasn’t a day of great skiing – but it was a great ski day.”

The situation at Highlands Sunday was similar. Lots of bare spots, a few runs with stuff resembling snow, lots of empty lift chairs, and plenty of tables at the Merry Go Round.

Those who ventured onto steeps like Temerity and Deception found decent snow, but the stumps and rocks on Steeplechase attracted only the most adventurous.

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