Snowmass set to open Saturday |

Snowmass set to open Saturday

Scott Condon/Special to the Daily

Snowmass Ski Area will open for the season Saturday, thanks to an abundant base of snow. That’s open as in permanently.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported that 30 inches graced the top of Snowmass and 20 inches midway. And that was before the wintry blast dumped more snow yesterday in the past few days.

Aspen Mountain will open as scheduled on Wednesday, for the traditional Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club benefit day. The “official” opening is Thanksgiving day. No earlier opening is planned for Ajax despite the snow.

“I think this is probably what we’ll stick with,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.

Promotional footage shot by the Skico that was shown on Denver news stations last night showed skiers at Snowmass going through powder past their knees.

Snowmass will open with five chairlifts, 560 acres of terrain, 28 trails and 3,400 vertical feet. The terrain and lifts at Fanny Hill, Coney Glade, Sam’s Knob and the Big Burn will open. The ski school poma lift will also run.

“Thanks to Mother Nature and the hard work of our crews, skiers and riders will find what I think are the best mountain conditions in the state up on the Big Burn,” said Skico senior vice president Mike Kaplan in a prepared statement. “While all four mountains are looking great, these early storms have really favored Snowmass and given it the best conditions of any of our four mountains.”

All ski passes will be valid for Snowmass’ season debut, including the Aspen Classic Pass. Highlands/Buttermilk passholders can buy a ticket for $39 per day.

Regular lift tickets at Snowmass will be $59 per day for adults, $49 for customers ages 13 through 17 and for seniors 65 to 69. Tickets for children ages 7 through 12 will be $39.

Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk will open as scheduled on Dec. 13.

Before yesterday, Snowmass had received almost five feet of snowfall since Nov. 1 (that settled and melted into a base of 30 inches). Skiers who hiked to the top of Alpine Springs last weekend reported superb conditions. Suspicions were growing that the Skico would open early, as it usually does when snow conditions allow.

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