Skico has a few tricks up its sleeve for this season
The Aspen Skiing Co. won’t have any flashy new chairlifts to show off when the ski season starts five weeks from today, but there will be some fresh twists on the slopes.
The Skico will offer “sunset skiing” at one of its four ski areas each Friday starting March 18. Limited terrain will remain open until 6 p.m. No extra fee will be charged for customers possessing a ski pass or lift ticket.
The Skico offered extended skiing on two afternoons last season on Aspen Mountain in conjunction with night dinners at the Sundeck. It proved popular with locals and visitors, said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.
“It showed us that people were into it,” he said.
By mid-March, hours have typically been extended from 3:30 p.m. to 4 or 4:30 p.m. at many of the chairlifts. The Friday sunset spring skiing extends the opportunity ski and ride even later.
The following are other new features that will be found on the slopes:
• The 22-foot Olympic superpipe used for the Winter X Games at Buttermilk and the 18-foot pipe at Snowmass can be intimidating to riders learning the ropes, so Skico is adding a 12-foot pipe adjacent to the Lowdown Park at Snowmass.
• Skiers and riders at Snowmass won’t so much see a change to grooming as feel the benefits of it. The Skico invested $450,000 in “The Beast” – a snowcat with a tiller width of 23 rather than 16 feet. It will allow the Skico to do the work of two snowcats with just one. That translates into payroll and fuel efficiency. Skico doesn’t plan to do additional grooming at Snowmass despite the new toy.
• The Ullrhof restaurant at the base of the Big Burn section of Snowmass had its interior and its menu remodeled. The new design is intended to help customers flow through the line and to the cash registers quicker. The menu will feature gourmet hamburgers, hand-cut french fries and milk shakes, naturally.
• The arrival center at Base Village at Snowmass is completed even though the village itself is stalled. Bus passengers will now be able to disembark at the center and ride an elevator or escalator to the chairlift loading areas, as will customers arriving by personal vehicle and parking in the garage. A walkway has also been established between the Viceroy Hotel and the lifts.
• Skico officials realize that hiking into and skiing the Highland Bowl can be intimidating for people at first, so it will offer tours by ambassadors every Wednesday at 11 a.m., weather permitting.
The Skico will offer lift-served skiing for one of the longest seasons ever. Aspen Highlands is scheduled to close April 23, three weeks later than usual. Aspen and Snowmass will close April 10. Buttermilk will close April 3. Opening dates are Nov. 25 for Snowmass and Aspen Mountain and Dec. 11 for Highlands and the ‘Milk.
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.