Wait is over for skiing on Aspen Mountain
November 23, 2011
ASPEN – The long wait for ski season to return to Aspen Mountain finally ends Thursday when 165 acres of terrain and top-to-bottom skiing is offered on the Thanksgiving Day menu.
Here is the fixings, according to Aspen Skiing Co.: the open trails include Easy Chair, North American, Silver Bell, Upper Copper, One and 2 Leaf, Dipsy Doodle, Buckhorn and Midnight – all of which has good natural cover, according to Rich Burkley, Skico vice president of mountain operations. The toil of the snowmaking and grooming crews will allow skiers and riders to take Deer Park to Spar Gulch and Little Nell down to the base.
The Silver Queen Gondola will open, as will the Ajax Express and Gent’s Ridge chairlifts. The lifts will operate from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Sundeck Restaurant at the mountaintop will also open.
Snowmass opened five days early, with terrain that included part of the Big Burn. It will add the Elk Camp Gondola and the Meadows beginner area to the mix on Thanksgiving Day.
Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk will open as scheduled on Dec. 10.
Aspen Mountain is reporting a snow base of 12 inches on top and 14 inches midway. A steady stream of snow storms in late fall dried up by mid-November.
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Lift tickets are $79. Season ski passes are valid. The Flex and Double Flex passes, which allow one day and two days of skiing per week, respectively, will be in effect from Thursday through Sunday, then the new week starts.
This weekend marks the return of women’s World Cup ski racing on Aspen Mountain. The first run of a giant slalom will start at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday, the first run of the slalom will start at 10:15 a.m.
The Skico struggled last season to regain business loss in the recession. The company’s skier visits were up 1.7 percent from the prior season, to a total of 1,361,000. However, Skico Senior Vice President David Perry said in public meetings this fall that the company didn’t do well enough last season. Before the recession struck, Skico logged 1,471,000 skier visits in 2007-08, so it has a ways to go to recover all its business.
The national ski industry set a record in 2010-11 with 60.5 million skier visits. A key for Aspen to post gains will be attracting international travelers. The weak dollar is enticing travelers from top foreign markets, particularly Australia and Brazil, according to Skico officials and other tourism officials.