Call it Deep-cember, or a white-Christmas-and-then-some, or maybe an end-of-year miracle: Any way you slice it, the last month of 2021 was very, very snowy on the ski hill.
Aspen Skiing Co. called it “the biggest storm in 43 years” in a recap that Skico shared on social media Saturday along with some end-of-month snow totals.
The snow stakes at Aspen Highlands and Snowmass both logged 100 inches of fresh snow for the month.
The triple-digit total ushered Snowmass Ski Area toward the new year with the resort’s snowiest-ever December. Across all four Aspen-Snowmass mountains, it was the second-snowiest December on record.
Much of it came in the last week or so of the month, thanks to the precipitation that started rolling in on Dec. 24 and kept on coming throughout the final days of 2021.
In the week between Christmas Eve and the new year, SNOTEL data sensors recorded stats that translate to three to four feet or more of snow to the mountains around Aspen, according to Kris Sanders, a senior meteorologist with the nearest National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.
Sanders estimated Monday that the half a dozen or so devices located near Aspen each recorded data that translates to between 36 and 56 inches of snow for that week. Most of the sensors logged between 40 and 50 inches of the fluffy white stuff. Those SNOTEL measurers are located between 8,500 and 10,500 feet in elevation.
The city of Aspen Water Department also logged similar totals, with 46.7 inches recorded for December at an elevation of 8,148 feet, according to snowfall data released on the afternoon of Jan. 3. The total is well above last year’s December total of 27.2 inches and the monthly average of 25.42 inches based on data recorded since 1934. (The snowfall at that recording location still didn’t come close to the December record, though; the Water Department logged a whopping 72 inches in 1983.)
That was good news for powder hounds who hit the slopes in droves to take advantage of rapidly expanding terrain. At Snowmass, the village lots had filled up less than an hour after the lifts started turning on Dec. 28, and the upper lots as well as the Base Village parking garage had filled up by just after 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 29, according to Pitkin County alerts.
(It was likely less good news for holiday-season air travelers who found themselves navigating a slew of flight cancellations, delays and diversions in and out of Aspen.)
Aspen Mountain had 670 of its 675 skiable acres open as of Monday; Aspen Highlands was up to 1,013 of its 1,053 acres open. Buttermilk had 436 of 470 acres open.
Snowmass still has a ways to go before nearing 100% open terrain; 2,495 of its 3,342 skiable acres were open by Monday. The resort has come a long way from the mere 7 lift-served acres that were available on opening day at Elk Camp Meadows. Most of the remaining terrain that hasn’t yet opened is in the Campground area of the mountain or in gated terrain like the Burnt Mountain Glades and Cirque Headwall.
By: Kaya Williams I The Aspen Times I January 3, 2022