Aspen Mountain to open early, on Nov. 17; Ski Cooper to open early, on Nov. 23 |

Aspen Mountain to open early, on Nov. 17; Ski Cooper to open early, on Nov. 23

Aspen Mountain will open for the season on Saturday, Nov. 17, five days before the scheduled opening, Aspen Skiing Co. announced Thursday — though what exactly will open is yet to be determined.

“We just don’t know what we’re opening yet,” said Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications.

The amount of terrain that opens will depend on how much snow falls between now and then.

“At a minimum, we’ll do Nell and Bell,” Hanle said, referring to the Little Nell chairlift at the base and the old standby Bell Mountain chairlift. If that’s all that opens on Nov. 17, Aspen Mountain will still offer more vertical feet of skiing than many of the resorts now open in Colorado, according to Hanle. The top of the Bell Mountain chair is at an elevation of about 10,500 feet. The base is at about 7,945 feet.

Hanle said the ticket price can’t be set because it’s uncertain how much terrain will open. Ski passes will be able to be used.

Snowmass will not open early but is making preparations to open for the traditional Thanksgiving Day opening. Snow is in the forecast for the Aspen area on Sunday. If enough snow falls to cover the mountaintop with a sufficient base, the Ajax Express and Silver Queen Gondola could also open. Further details will be released as they are determined.

Cold temperatures over the past nine days have allowed Skico to fire up the snowmaking system to cover the lower two-thirds of the slopes. That is vital for the early opening.

Ski Cooper outside of Leadville announced it will open Nov. 23 rather than waiting until December, as is usual.

As currently scheduled, Winter Park will open Nov. 14; Copper Mountain on Nov. 16; Monarch and Steamboat on Nov. 21; Telluride on Nov. 22; and Silverton will open Nov. 24.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk will open Dec. 8. Sunlight will open Dec. 14.

— Scott Condon, The Aspen Times

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