Aspen, Snowmass to open Nov. 27 |

Aspen, Snowmass to open Nov. 27

ASPEN, Colorado ” Relax, Aspen, the ski season will start as scheduled despite the recent heat wave in Aspen, Colorado.

The Aspen Skiing Co. is moving ahead with plans to open Aspen Mountain and Snowmass on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said Tuesday.

“We definitely have guaranteed skiing at Snowmass,” he said, later adding that Aspen Mountain will be able to open as well. The natural snowfall so far this fall combined with snowmaking has created enough of a base to get some terrain open.

Even though daytime temperatures have climbed into the 50s and 60s this week, the situation on the slopes is significantly better than it was a year ago. Dry and warm temperatures allowed only a token opening to the 2007-08 season ” then the skies opened in late November and the snow didn’t stop all season.

“The blood pressures are a lot lower here at the Aspen Skiing Company than they were last year at this time,” Hanle said.

As of Tuesday, the Skico was in a position to open the Village Express six-pack chairlift at Snowmass to the midpoint station. Snowmaking covers the terrain from Fanny Hill up to that point on the Village Express, Hanle said.

A few more days of snowmaking will allow the opening of terrain to the top of Sam’s Knob, he said, and a foot of natural snow would allow the opening of terrain on the Big Burn. The biggest obstacle right now is getting coverage between Sam’s Knob and the bottom of the Big Burn chairlift.

“It’s much better than last year’s opening day over there,” Hanle said of Snowmass.

On Aspen Mountain, snowmaking was directed until recently at the women’s slalom and giant slalom courses on the lower western side of the mountain. The courses are essentially covered and ready, Hanle said, so equipment has been moved to the east slopes. Snowmaking crews are concentrating on areas such as the bottom of Deer Park, the bottom of chair three, Grand Junction and the top of Little Nell.

More natural snow is needed at the top of Aspen Mountain because the cover isn’t deep enough to last.

“In a day of skiing it would be gone,” Hanle said.

Nevertheless, Aspen Mountain could open some terrain even without more snow in the next eight days.

Aspenites learned last season not to panic. Conditions were poor to start, but the season evolved into one of the best powder seasons ever. Eleven inches of snow fell Nov. 28-30, followed by another 30 inches on Dec. 1 and 2 and 36 inches Dec. 7-9.

Skiers and riders hope for a rerun.

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