Snowstorm brings smiles and delays

Aspen Daily News Staff Report

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mother Nature finally has awakened from her slumber, dumping more than a foot of fresh snow on Aspen and Snowmass on Wednesday, allowing ski areas to expand their terrain but bringing the headaches of flight cancellations.
Ten flights were canceled on Wednesday due to the weather, just as United Airlines started its peak season. Of the 22 scheduled arrivals for United, four were canceled. Of the 23 departures for United, six were canceled, according to Jim Elwood, director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. Two more United flights were diverted to Grand Junction and passengers were brought here via bus. American Airlines’ two flights were not disrupted.
Local law enforcement reported only a few minor accidents in Pitkin County and the city of Aspen as of Wednesday evening. Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy Jesse Steindler said his department’s increased presence on Highway 82 during rush hour near the Snowmass Canyon has slowed traffic down, which he believes is one of the reasons for hardly any accidents being reported.
“I think the public is used to seeing us out there,” he said.
Aspen schools were open on Wednesday but kids in the RE-1 School District, comprising Basalt elementary, middle and high schools, got the day off.
The Aspen Skiing Co. on Wednesday expanded its terrain by opening some areas for the first time this season. At Aspen Mountain, all of the east side runs on Bell Mountain are open, including Seibert’s, Knowlton’s, Back of Bell 1 & 2 and Keith Glen. On the west side of Bell, Sunrise, Sunset, Hanging Tree and the Face of Bell were opened on Wednesday. The Glades opened, as did Jackpot. Some of the Dumps opened by the end of the day, including Bear Paw, Short Snort, Zaugg, Perry’s Prowl and Last Dollar. Magnifico, Lazy 8 and Normandy, on the lower portion of the mountain, were opened.

At Snowmass, Sheer Bliss, both the run and the lift, opened for the season. The ropes also were dropped on Glissade, the first run open into Garrett’s Gulch. Lower Green Cabin and Funnel Bypass also opened.
The new snow at Aspen Highlands allowed for Boomerang, Mushroom, Hyde Park and Sodbuster to open. On the west side, Deception opened. Friday also saw expanded terrain openings in Highland Bowl.
At Buttermilk, Ptarmigan Glade, upper Sterner and Buckskin opened to Sterner Catwalk. On West Buttermilk, trails crews have worked a path to the bottom of West Buttermilk Express on Camp Bird.
Ryan Boudreau, of aspenweather.net, said Aspen and the vicinity will be in a dry weather pattern for a few days but another storm is on its way, arriving around Christmas Eve, bringing an expected 3 to 5 inches.
Some regional weather forecasters were predicting as much as 30 inches for the area in advance of Wednesday’s storm; aspenweather.net a few days ago called it at between 10 and 14 inches.