Aspen Ski Resort

Top of Aspen Mountain to Reopen for Memorial Day Skiing

1imagesAspen Skiing Co. is reopening the top of Aspen Mountain for skiing and snowboarding this Memorial Day weekend, after getting some late spring snow.

Sixteen runs on almost 90 acres will be open at the top of the mountain Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Aspen Skiing Co.’s vice president of mountain operations, Rich Burkley, says the resort has had nearly four feet of snow since Aspen Mountain closed for the season. The company said Monday that the snow base is 33 inches deep at the top.

Lift tickets will be $36 per day.

Nearly all Colorado ski areas are closed for the season, but Arapahoe Basin doesn’t plan to close until at least June 2.


Vail, Breckenridge to Reopen for Bonus Weekend

Breckenridge Ski Resort and Vail officials announced today they will extend the two resorts’ ski seasons one additional weekend, April 19-21, due to the large amounts of snow the resorts have received in recent days.

Breckenridge has received over 5 feet of snow so far in April, including another 16 inches since the resort’s initial closing on Sunday. At Vail, 2 feet of snow has fallen since the original closing day of its 50th anniversary season. More snow is in the forecast this week for both resorts.

“After skiing some amazing powder turns on Closing Day and more heavy snow in the forecast this week, we just don’t have the heart to shut down Breck’s lifts just yet,” said Pat Campbell, senior vice president and COO at Breckenridge Ski Resort. “We can’t deny how great the conditions are, so this is a great opportunity for all of our guests to take advantage of a few extra days and enjoy more of the spring skiing and riding we all love here in Breck.”

“This is a great way to end our 50th anniversary season,” added Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and COO at Vail Mountain. “This is an opportunity for our season pass holders and skiers from around the region to take advantage of a few extra days, and enjoy more of the spring skiing we all love here in Colorado.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s decision Monday to keep Aspen Highlands open for a bonus weekend, April 27 and April 28. Highlands’ original closing day was scheduled for April 21.

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Aspen Highlands Extends Ski Season by 1 Weekend Following Spring Snowfall

Aspen Highlands is extending its season by one weekend.

The ski area’s closing day had been scheduled for April 21, but Aspen Skiing Co. said Monday that Aspen Highlands will reopen April 27-28 as a thank you to skiers and riders.  The ski area has had consistent snowfall over the past week.

Adult ski lift tickets to Aspen Highlands are currently $62 per day, but people with season passes from other Colorado resorts can get them for $39 during the bonus weekend when they show the season passes at the ticket window.

Aspen Highlands is one of the few Colorado ski resorts still open. Winter Park, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin also are still open.


Skiers, Riders Line up for Highland Bowl

imagesSkiers and snowboarders showed up to Aspen Highlands in force Tuesday after a massive snowstorm created some of the best conditions of the season.  The parking structure at Aspen Highlands filled up quickly causing city officials to direct motorists back to Aspen to take the free bus.

Photos of the 12,392-foot Highland Bowl circulated in social media showing an impressive procession of skiers and snowboarders snaking up it with wisecracks about town being empty because all of the locals were seemingly hiking and skiing the bowl. Other locals shared photos of an avalanche that slid sometime Monday night in nearby Maroon Bowl, which is out of bounds.

Aspen Highlands was originally scheduled to shut down for the season this Sunday but the Aspen Skiing Co. has decided to reopen the mountain the following weekend, April 27 and April 28, in appreciation of their customers and the bountiful April snow.

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Colorado Ski Visits Down 11%

colorado-ski-map-620x406According to The Colorado Springs Business Journal ski visits across the state of Colorado are down 11.5% so far this season, compared to the same period last year. The Journal sites the lack of snow and late openings for many Colorado resorts as major factors in the drop of skier traffic.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors, and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, a nonprofit industry group that represents several of the state’s largest ski resorts. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December.”

Despite the slow start, ski areas saw a strong holiday period with conditions more in line with an average year. The New Year started with storms, which bodes well for the rest of the season, she said.

“There is some real buoyancy in the indicators for the months ahead. February and March hotel bookings are pacing ahead of last year by 3.5 percent and 8.6 percent respectively,” Mills said. “Carnival and Easter are well-timed for ski visitation this year and Colorado’s traditional snowier months lie ahead.”.

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January Approaches 20-Year Record for Frigid Days in Aspen

imagesThis month will grab honors as one of Aspen’s most frigid Januarys in at least 20 years if the mercury plunges below zero again in the next 10 days.  This month has chilled skiers, frozen pipes, tortured cars and chattered teeth with lows at or below zero on 10 days so far, according to records tracked at the Aspen Water Plant.
This cold snap featured two periods with consecutive subzero days — Jan. 3 through 5 and Jan. 12 through 16. Subzero weather isn’t unusual for Aspen in January, but it doesn’t usually strike for this many days. Records from the observers at the water plant show that since 1994 only two years came close to matching this icebox performance. There were 11 days with temperatures at or below zero in January 2008, including five in a row. There were nine days with the super-low temperatures in 2007, according to the water plant’s records.  Last year there were only four days of subzero temperatures in January. In 2005, there was none.
The first half of the winter will be remembered as much for being dry as it was for being cold. The snowpack in the upper Roaring Fork River basin fell below 40 percent of average Monday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The snowpack is measured at an automated Snotel site near Grizzly Reservoir, roughly 15 miles east-southeast of Aspen. It should typically have 8.7 inches of water in the amount of snow at this time of year. The snow-water equivalent was only 3.4 inches Monday, making it 39 percent of average, according to the Snotel site.  The total amount of precipitation — snow and rain — at the site is only 53 percent of average since Oct. 1.

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Mountain Collective Adds Three More Big Name Winter Resorts

602872_499015853495065_215056938_nWhistler Blackcomb, North America’s largest ski resort, California’s Mammoth Mountain and Snowbird in Utah are joining four other ski resorts, including Aspen-Snowmass, in the Mountain Collective program, the Aspen Skiing Co. announced Tuesday.  For $349, a skier in the 2013-14 season will be able to get two days each at the seven resorts: the four above, plus existing members Alta, Utah; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Calif.  The Mountain Collective pass offers a “dream proposition,” said Jeff Hanle, SkiCo spokesman.

Pass holders will be able to access 30,000 acres across 12 mountains at the same price as the 2012-13 pass, which covered the four initial resorts, a SkiCo press release says. The price may go up before next winter.  Besides the two included days, buying into the Mountain Collective allows skiers to get half off lift prices for the rest of their time at a resort, along with lodging discounts that vary by ski area.  When the Mountain Collective pass debuted in August, member resorts allowed their unlimited season pass holders to also buy lift tickets at 50 percent off of the regular price. That will continue with the new resorts, Hanle said.

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Skiing’s Season Pass Revolution Now Includes Lodging

CBMR-FireworksIn the past two years I have covered the fast evolving world of season ski passes, which are a game changer for ski travelers. This trend just keeps getting better.

The main players I have profiled here are Vail Resorts with its Epic Pass, now good at 13 major resorts across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Michigan and Minnesota, plus partners in Austria and Switzerland. The other major option is The Mountain Collective, a package of discounted lift tickets across several independent powerhouse resorts including Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson, Alta, Snowbird, Whistler/Blackcomb, Mammoth and Alpine Meadows/Squaw Valley. There are also more niche regional products such as Utah’s Ski Salt Lake Super Pass and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain SuperPass.

So what’s the newest wrinkle in the world of ski season passes? Well at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, whose season pass already includes limited free skiing at Okemo in Vermont and Sunapee in New Hampshire, the town’s Nordic Inn has upped the ante considerably with an entirely new concept, combining a traditional season pass with 10 flexible nights of bed and breakfast lodging. This means you can make up to two 5-day trips to Crested Butte to use the pass and each time have a place to stay at no additional charge. Or you can break the ten days up however you want for multiple visits at any time from Nov. 20, 2013 through April 6, 2014, with no blackout dates, and extra days are available as an add-on at a 40% discount. If your schedule is flexible you can chase storms and come just for fresh powder. At the same time, Crested Butte Mountain Resort just lowered its regular adult season pass prices by more than 40 percent, just $599 for a full-season adult ski pass with no blackout dates.

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2012-13 Skier Visits Creep Up by 4 Percent in Colorado

Arapahoe Basin Ski AreaColorado’s ski areas hosted 11.4 million skier visits last season, a nearly 4 percent increase over the previous season’s 11 million.

The 11.4 million mark, while an increase over the dismal and dry 2011-12 season, is the third-slowest season in the past decade, and the annual increase falls well below the national spike of 11 percent.

Colorado Ski Country USA, the trade group that represents 21 of the state’s 25 ski areas, reported 6.4 million skier visits in 2012-13, an increase of 3.8 percent, or 235,000 skier visits, over 2011-12. Vail Resorts’ four Colorado ski areas — Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek — saw about 5 million skier visits.

Colorado’s 2012-13 season started slowly, with weak snow and local skiers staying home. Storms in late December and late spring fueled a rebound in visitation. But it wasn’t enough to pull the state closer to the 12 million-skier-visit benchmark it reached in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Declining skier visits does not necessarily correlate to decreasing revenues, as evidenced by ski areas that saw increased revenues in 2011-12, which saw record declines in visitation.

Aspen Skier Visits Up 3 Percent Last Winter

indexSkier visits across Aspen Skiing Co.’s four area mountains were up 3 percent in the 2012-13 season over the previous year’s numbers, while skiing across the state as a whole rose 3.9 percent. The skier-visit data was announced Friday at the annual season-ending meeting for Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade group representing 21 resorts.

The group, which does not represent Vail Resorts properties, reported there were 6.4 million visits to its member resorts last winter. With the Vail numbers included, Colorado played host to an estimated 11.5 million skier visits, which is defined as one person skiing or snowboarding for any part of a day at a mountain resort.

SkiCo spokesperson Jeff Hanle didn’t have the exact number of skier visits at SkiCo mountains, but he said it was in the neighborhood of 1.3 million. He termed the numbers as “positive news.” “A lot of people look at the ski industry and say, ‘Oh, you know, it’s not a growth industry and you’re going to be struggling,’” Hanle said. “This shows that snow trumps everything.”

Lackluster early-season snowfall — which caused some resorts to open late — gave way to better conditions over the holidays, followed by a classic Colorado spring with heavy snow through April. Due to strong conditions, SkiCo kept Aspen Highlands open for a bonus weekend in late April, and reopened the top of Aspen Mountain for skiing on Memorial Day weekend. With strong domestic business over spring break, Hanle said it “felt like the good old days” in March in Aspen.