Aspen to see lengthened X-C skiing season |

Aspen to see lengthened X-C skiing season

We would like to thank Craig Ward for his recent letter to the editor (“Closing Aspen and Snowmass cross-country venues is premature,” March 15, We sincerely appreciate his enthusiasm for our nordic trail system and his interest in keeping the Aspen Cross Country Center & Snowmass Cross Country Center open later than their planned closing date of March 24. To clarify, our nordic centers are not being asked to vacate their premises by the end of this month (to make room for the golf operations). The Ute Mountaineer leases these locations from the city of Aspen and the Snowmass Club, respectively, and neither entity is forcing the nordic centers to close at this date. This decision is made by the Ute.

Unlike previous winters when our trails have melted out by the second or third week of March, our snowpack will allow trail grooming much later this year. This is great news. But with warmer weather and spring approaching, regardless of the amount of snow, we see fewer and fewer skiers coming into our centers. Users naturally shift toward spring recreation at this point in the year. While it can be bittersweet for some nordic enthusiasts, there are the occasional years that we must cease operations before all the snow melts. We hope you understand.

The Snowmass Club and city of Aspen are integral parts of our nordic community. The Snowmass Club has been very generous with the use of the golf building, hosting many events and helping subsidize our end of the season party for the Aspen Cup Nordic Series. They also help promote and support the trail system and are instrumental in the alignment of trails on their golf course for nordic skiers and dog walkers. Aspen’s nordic staff works tirelessly to groom 90 kilometers of trails in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. They also work extra hours to prepare for events like Owl Creek Chase, Cross Country Ski Extravaganza, AVSC Junior Races, Ski For The Pass and the Aspen Cup Series. Without their assistance, these events would not be possible. As a landlord, the city is incrediblly flexible and accommodating and has actually encouraged us to stay open longer if it makes sense for our business. With the exceptional snow this year, we do plan to keep the Aspen center open an extra six days through March 30.

We are tremendously grateful for the support and partnership the city and Snowmass Club provide in terms of our leases, the nordic trail system and event help. Their role in the Aspen/Snowmass nordic community is invaluable, and we thank them for a great ski season.

Paul Perley

Ute Mountaineer, Aspen