Squeezing the last drops out of winter before the white stuff melts away
Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the start of summer, when people head for the beaches and lakes to enjoy the warming sun. This year, winter isn’t going out without a fight, at least not at Aspen. The chichi resort announced that Aspen mountain will reopen for skiing this holiday weekend. A series of late spring storms has left the mountain with a base depth of more than four feet of snow on top, enough to open 21 runs and nearly 130 acres of intermediate and advanced terrain from the 11,212-ft. summit. It’s still cold up there.
Ski areas in the west typically close in late March or early to mid April. It’s not necessarily because the snow is gone, but because the skiers are—they are already in spring mode. Yet there’s traditionally been a battle for bragging rights for the area that can stay open longest and attract the diehards. It’s an honor that typically goes to places such as Arapaho Basin, situated on the Continental Divide or Oregon’s Mount Bachelor. A-Basin has extended its season until June 8. The area collected some 35 ft.. of snow during the 2013-14 season, “so we’re staying open!” says the company’s website. It may even extend the season if conditions permit. In Utah, Snowbird is reopening for the holiday weekend too.
Four-season resorts such as Aspen have robust summer programs to try to entice vacationers when it’s not white outside, so they generally don’t try to squeeze the last drops out of winter. But this year there’s been so much winter that staying open might be the only option. It’s tough to run dirt bike trails when there’s no dirt.