High Points: 111 acres

High Points
Paul E. Anna


It’s better than nothing.

When the Aspen Ski Co. announced this week that the 75th Anniversary season would commence as planned on Thanksgiving it was, of course, cause for thanks. After all, something is better than nothing and with the snow-pack thinner than the marshmallows atop the sweet potatoes that some will be serving alongside their holiday turkey, it is an accomplishment to provide locals and guests with any kind of skiing experience.

These are trying times my friends. There can be little doubt that the climate is changing in ways that weigh on all of us. But they are particularly trying if you are in the ski business. We had a couple of unusual early season storms around here that capped the mountains and gave us a moment or two of optimism. But the reality is they were a bit like Botox, they made things look better initially, but the foundation remained the same. There is just too little snow and the temperatures have been just too high to create the perfect ski experience that we all had hoped for. Steamboat and Beaver Creek and Telluride have all delayed their opening days and just when they will fire up the lifts remains uncertain.

The silver lining is that yesterday the Gondola Plaza had a crowd and for those who put their skis in the bucket there were turns to be had. Even with the warm temps of last week, at the top of the hill the snow making machines provide decent coverage and the dusting (wasn’t that a pretty little refresher?) we had Wednesday certainly helped. Portions of Silver Bell, Upper Copper, Lazy Boy, and Deer Park were scheduled to open yesterday on Aspen as were seven acres at the Elk Camp Meadows Beginner’s Area on Snowmass.

But change may be in the air, at least temporarily, as a cold front (relatively speaking) rolled in on Tuesday allowing the snowmaking systems to kick into a higher gear on both Aspen and Snowmass. You feeling it this morning? The temps dipped into the single digits up high yesterday and the snow guns were working double time. Unfortunately, next week shows highs back into the 50s as we head into December.

Regardless, we will get a chance to ski. We will likely even get some powder days as the season progresses. 111 acres is a drop in the bucket for a resort that boasts of 5,527 skiable acres but when winter finally arrives that percentage will rise daily and who knows, maybe before all is said and done, we will be 100% open. In the interim we just need to be happy that we are up and operating at all.

Take it turn by turn, run by run and day by day. Relish that feeling of snow slipping under our feet as the edges of our skis carve the turns. There is nothing else quite like it. And that, after all, is the reason we are here.