Plenty of snow at the resorts, but SkiCo is done for season |

Plenty of snow at the resorts, but SkiCo is done for season

Don’t count on any more lift-served skiing at Aspen and Snowmass this season despite mid-winter snow conditions.

“We’re done,” Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said Monday when asked if extended skiing is a possibility.

This season was already one of the longest on record, with 151 days from the Thanksgiving Day start at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass to Sunday’s season-ending bash at Aspen Highlands.

In past years when snow conditions were phenomenal, the Skico opened on weekends after the end of the scheduled season, or it opened for novelty skiing on Memorial Day weekend. Skico officials aren’t thinking in those terms after such a long season, Hanle said Monday.

Thirteen inches of additional snow over the weekend boosted the total for April to 66 inches in Highland Bowl, according to Skico’s statistics. The 140-inch snow depth in Highland Bowl was the all-time best, Hanle said. The depth was 135 inches in the bowl during the 2007-08 season.

This winter was unusual because it featured consistent snowstorms rather than humongous dumps, and not much thawing up high.

“It didn’t have as many big, big powder days like a couple of years back,” Hanle said. “The snow kept coming and it stuck around.”

Snowmass Ski Area ended up with 314 inches of snow between Oct. 1 and its closing on April 10, Hanle said. Last season only tallied 235 inches while the 2008-09 winter boasted 328 and 2007-08 topped the latest decade with 407 inches, according to Skico’s statistics for Snowmass.

The bottom line: This winter was the fifth snowiest in the last 10, although snowfall totals were within a few inches in four of the five winters. But, as Hanle noted, there weren’t any major thaws that ate into the snowpack this winter.

As a result, the snowpack in the Roaring Fork River basin – including the Fryingpan and Crystal river valleys – is 137 percent of average, the Natural Resources Conservation Service reported Monday. The snowpack east of Aspen is at 138 percent of average, according to the snowpack agency.

“We’ve had years where we’ve only had 90 percent” of the normal snowpack by this point, said Jim Ingram, a ski patroller at Snowmass by winter, a rafting guide by summer. He is optimistic yet cautious about the outlook for the river running season. The snowpack is “great” right now, he noted. “It all depends on how it comes down.”

If snowmelt occurs gradually like it usually does starting in about mid-May and peaking in the first half of June, it should make for a fantastic white-water season. Any season when you can do the Slaughterhouse rapids on July 4 is a successful season, said Ingram, owner of Aspen Whitewater Rafting.

He will keep an anxious eye on the snowpack statistics as the spring progresses.

“I’m a freak about water because it’s my life,” Ingram said.

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