Aspen Highlands will open with 430 acres but not the Bowl
Buttermilk will start with 254 acres; more terrain openings anticipated over weekend at all four ski areas
Aspen Highlands will open with a bang but not a bowl on Saturday.
The ski area will open with 430 acres “down the gut on the frontside” and three of five chairlifts — Thunderbowl, Exhibition and Loge, according to Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of communications. However, the 14 inches of snow that fell Thursday night, and more on Friday, mean more time will be required to get terrain opened in Highland Bowl, Temerity and Steeplechase, Hanle said Friday afternoon.
Ironically, the ski area was in position to open the G-zones of the Bowl prior to the big dump, he said.
Buttermilk will also make its season debut Saturday with 254 acres or about 59% of the terrain. The Summit Express, West Buttermilk and Panda Peak lifts will operate. Three trails on Tiehack will also open but the Tiehack chairlift will not be operating. Skiers and riders on the Tiehack runs will have to head back over to the Summit Express lift.
The big dump allowed more terrain to open at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Ski Area on Friday and more will open over the weekend, according to Hanle. While Aspen Mountain scored 15 inches overnight Thursday, Snowmass was close behind at 14 inches. The Sam’s Knob terrain at Snowmass opened on Friday.
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The fresh snow created a “high” rating for “very dangerous avalanche conditions” Friday in the Aspen backcountry, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
CAIC reported 20 inches of fresh snow at the Marble quarry and 22 inches on Schofield Pass. Outside of the Aspen zone, Crested Butte picked up 15 inches overnight Thursday while the southern side of the Grand Mesa reaped 30 inches.
Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade association, reported Purgatory Resort in southwest Colorado picked up 25 inches of new snow as of Friday morning. Powderhorn on the Grand Mesa collected 20 inches and Telluride got 15 inches. Ski areas closer to the Front Range didn’t pick up as much.
The CAIC forecast anticipated the avalanche danger in the Aspen zone would remain “considerable” on Saturday.
“Additional snow and wind (Friday) morning will result in natural avalanches,” the report said. “Even after the natural avalanche cycle stops, you can easily trigger large and wide avalanches.”