Snow pounds Aspen, Snowmass Village

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— If you’re a skier or rider at Aspen or Snowmass Village, the numbers 28 and 11 should be music to your ears today.

Twenty-eight is the number of days before Aspen Mountain and Snowmass open for the 2011-12 campaign. And 11 is the number of inches of snow that accumulated on top of Snowmass as of 5 a.m. Wednesday. Aspen Mountain reported 6 inches as of 5 a.m., and snow continued off and on throughout the day.

Sunlight Mountain Resort near Glenwood Springs reported 10 inches of snow from the storm as of Wednesday morning. It opens Dec. 2.

Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said another big dump is needed before snow can be compacted, or “track packed” by snowcats, or before boot-packing will begin in Highland Bowl.

Skico has tested snowmaking equipment, but it typically doesn’t blow snow until after Nov. 1, when temperatures allow, Hanle said.

The snowfall won’t affect Skico’s capital improvement projects. The lift towers have been placed for the new four-person chairlift at Tiehack. The cables will be strung and the chairs hung in the next few days. The remodeling of the Merry-Go-Round restaurant at Aspen Highlands has progressed to the point where snowfall isn’t an issue.

The marketing buzz the snowstorm generated for the state ski industry is probably as important as the actual coverage.

Winter Park was the big winner in this storm, tallying 15 inches. It opens Nov. 16.

Loveland Ski Area scooped up 14 inches Tuesday night. It already has five trails and one chairlift open.

Wolf Creek also received 14 inches of snow from this storm, boosting its season total to date to a state-high 60 inches. The ski area, which opened for weekends Oct. 8, reported that it will operate three chairlifts this weekend and remain open on Halloween day. It has a 36-inch base at the summit and 26 inches at midmountain. It plans to open about 600 acres, or about 50 percent of its terrain.

Arapahoe Basin, another open resort, reported 8 inches of snow from the storm. It has two trails, one chairlift and a terrain park open.

According to Colorado Ski Country USA, other snowfall totals were 9 inches at Ski Cooper near Leadville, 7 inches at Copper Mountain and Crested Butte, and 5 inches at Steamboat.

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