Aspen Skiing Co. officials are sticking with plans to open limited terrain at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass on Saturday, but a favorable forecast for snow could expand the opportunities.
As of Thursday afternoon, Skico announced it would open 75 acres of terrain on Aspen Mountain and 60 acres at Snowmass. That is unchanged from Monday’s early-opening announcement.
“We will open additional terrain on natural snow as conditions allow,” Skico said in a statement Thursday.
Two inches of snow fell in the Aspen area Wednesday, and the forecast is promising for more snow in the next few days.
Aspenweather.net, a micro-forecaster, posted on Thursday that 4 to 8 inches of snow was possible for the ski areas by dawn Friday with additional amounts during the day. Aspenweather.net meteorologist Cory Gates also forecasted another 4 to 8 inches of snow at the ski areas Monday.
At Aspen Mountain, Skico is planning to open the Little Nell and Bell Mountain chairlifts. The Silver Queen Gondola will be open for sightseers only, not for skiers and snowboarders.
When unloading the Bell Mountain lift, riders will go to skier’s right to the Deer Park Trail. Spar Gulch will be open to the Little Nell trail. The Sundeck Restaurant will be open.
The upper third of the mountain isn’t covered by snowmaking and not enough natural snow has fallen as of Thursday to open those slopes, according to Katie Ertl, Skico senior vice president of operations.
At Snowmass, the Village Express lift will be spinning to midway to provide access to Upper Scooper to Lower Hal’s and Fanny Hill. The Elk Camp Gondola will provide access to Elk Camp Meadows. The Elk Camp Restaurant will be open.
Ertl said the company’s philosophy is to open terrain as early as it can and extend the season beyond scheduled closure, as long as it can provide a good product. The intent this season is to open Aspen Highlands prior to the scheduled opening Dec. 7. Buttermilk is also scheduled to open Dec. 7.
Aspen Mountain lifts will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. On Snowmass, the Village Express lift will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with the Elk Camp Gondola running from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Season passes can be used during the early opening. Skiers and snowboarders who need to pick up their passes can go to the Aspen Mountain ticket office from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Snowmass Gondola ticket office from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
If you have a season pass that includes the Ikon base level pass, that has to be submitted by Dec. 12. Season passholders who have the Ikon benefit will get their promotion code when they pick up their Aspen season pass and then have to submit their Ikon information online.