Aspen, CO – With nearly 40 percent of the continental U.S. already covered with pre-Thanksgiving snow, a number of North America’s ski resorts are firing up their lifts ahead of schedule.
Among them is Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Ajax will open five days early for the season this Saturday with the most vertical feet in the U.S. and top-to-bottom skiing/riding across 120 acres of terrain. The Silver Queen Gondola and Ajax Express will be open as will the Sundeck and Ajax Tavern for food and drink. A recent storm brought over 21 inches to Aspen Mountain, which has allowed for favorable conditions to open the mountain early.
“We aim to open and bring skiing and riding to the community and our guests as soon as we can,” says David Perry, Chief Operating Officer, Aspen Skiing Company. “We are a ski town, we have the snow and we are pleased to start spinning the lifts.”
All season passes are valid as they would be in the scheduled season. Daily lift tickets from November 22-26 are priced at $79 for adults, $73 for teens (13-17) and seniors (65-69), and $59 for children (7-12), and a special rate will be extended to passholders at any other resort. Skiers and riders can simply present a valid pass from any other resort and receive the discounted rates of $55 for adults, $51 for teens (13-17) and seniors (65-69), and $41 for children (7-12).
North of the border, Whistler Blackcomb is also opening five days ahead of schedule on Saturday. The decision to kick off the winter season early was made possible after natural snowfall at higher elevations was followed by a streak of below average temperatures, providing prime conditions for snowmaking. Whistler Mountain will open with five lifts running. Guests will have the option to upload from either the base of Whistler Mountain via the Whistler Village Gondola, featuring brand new cabins, or the Creekside base via the Creekside Gondola. Emerald Express, Big Red Express and the Franz Chair will provide the skiing and riding. Runs set to open will include Upper and Lower Ego Bowl, Upper Whiskey Jack, Upper Franz’s, Papoose, Orange Peel and Pony Trail. There will also be a small terrain park accessible from the top of the Emerald Express chair.
Whistler early season lift tickets are priced at $69 for adults, $63 seniors, $59 youth and $35 for children (all prices CAD). Blackcomb Mountain will stick to its originally scheduled November 27 opening day.
In the western New York State village of Ellicottville, the Lake Effect snow machine has been pumping and delivering snowfall measured in feet, prompting officials at Holiday Valley to launch their ski and ride season a week ahead of schedule. The resort plans a “Preview Weekend” with two lifts running from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, serving four slopes or more, depending on the natural snowfall and snowmaking progress. There will be terrain available for advanced beginners through advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Holiday Valley’s slopes will then be closed from Monday, November 24th through Thursday, and will reopen for the regular season on Friday, November 28th.