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Snow riders are psyched this spring

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
John Gardner Post Independent
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ASPEN HIGHLANDS, COLORADO ” Ashton Lee of Carbondale took a quick breather as he made his way down Mushroom run at Aspen Highlands Sunday afternoon.

It was a brief break, just to catch his breath and then he took off down the mountain again.

“I had to keep going,” he said. “My feet were killing me, I just had to keep going to get down.”



But when his wife and daughter caught up to him at the Deep Temerity lift, it didn’t take him long to get back on the lift for another run in the amazing spring snow. Conditions have been so good that Highlands extended its season from this weekend’s planned closing through the end of April.

“It’s unbelievable,” Lee said. “Not just the quantity, but the fact that every time we need (snow) we get it. The timing is fabulous.”



Snow totals across the state have exceeded most expectations this year after an unusually dry November left many ski resorts considering pushing back opening dates. However, a saturated January and February have made for one of the best seasons in over two decades.

“Since we opened on Dec. 9, we’ve only not done avalanche control work probably five to seven days,” said Aspen Highlands ski patrol supervisor Kevin Hagerty. “It’s one of the larger (snow) years we’ve had.”

Hagerty has been with the Aspen Skiing Company since 1987, he’s worked at Highlands since 1989. But according to data of recorded snowfall, this year has yielded some of the best conditions the mountain has seen since the early ’80s, Hagerty said. It’s also one of the best Hagerty can remember.

“We’ve had more snow this year, especially in January, since the 1983-84 season,” he said. “We had a February with some pretty big storms, the best since about ’96-97, as far as powder. We’re doing great.”

The final weekend in March provided the Aspen Mountains with around 26 inches of snow, according to Aspen/Snowmass.com, helping prolong the great conditions experienced all season. Snowmass mountain has received over 400 inches of snow this season. Aspen Highlands still boasts a top-mountain base of 132 inches as of Wednesday, making it a spring season to remember.

“It’s been interesting to see, actually,” Hagerty said. “If we stay the course we’ll be fine for a few more weeks.”

Closer to home, Sunlight Mountain Resort received around 14 inches of snow during the March 29-30 weekend and still reports a 65 inch base at top mountain. It’s hasn’t been a record-breaking year for Sunlight, but according to Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky, it’s still been a great year of snow.

“I think it’s the best season in ten years as far as snow and snow quality,” Jankovsky said. “December and January were the good months. It started snowing in December and it didn’t quit until March.”

But it’s not just the amounts of snow area resorts have been blessed with that have made for the tremendous spring conditions.

“It’s not just the snow, it’s also the cooler temperatures,” Hagerty said. “We haven’t had the warm temperatures like last year. Last March we had a long warm-up period of a couple of weeks that really hurt us.”

Regardless, Lee enjoyed the sun at Highlands, which poked it’s way through the clouds last Sunday.

“It’s nice to have it warm and sunny for a change,” Lee said. “Part of the reason for all the snow we saw this year was that we didn’t see the sun very much in January and February. The warmer temperatures have been nice.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

jgardner@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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