The Aspen Skiing Company is in the midst of numerous major projects. They’re wrapping up the renovations of the base area at Buttermilk, and trail cutting has begun on Pandora’s expansion at Aspen Mountain (Ajax). Last week, Aspen Skiing Company executives discussed current and future projects with the Pitkin County Commissioners.
Aspen Public Radio covered the meeting and gave some details as to what the future holds for Aspen Snowmass.
Buttermilk Base Area: Over the offseason, they overhauled the base area over at Buttermilk. The Bumps building was renovated, and opened to the public on December 17th, with it now being known as Buttermilk Mountain Lodge.
A new guest services building opened this week, just in time for the X-Games. This building features rentals, ticketing, shopping, and a lounge. A breakdown of the construction progress from Aspen Snowmass is below.
Pandora’s Expansion: For the 2023-24 season, Ajax will have a new terrain pod. A high-speed quad will be added to Pandora’s this summer, with an opening expected for next winter. 153 acres will be added to Aspen Mountain’s trail network, with it consisting of intermediate and advanced terrain. Various expert runs, like Walsh’s, Kristi, and Hyrup’s, will be extended as well.
Over the summer, crews cut down twenty acres of dead trees, sculpted out an access road, and removed thirty-three truckloads of timber from Pandora’s to be reused in other locations.
For those who venture out there this season, it should be noted that it’s currently backcountry terrain, and it’s not being monitored by ski patrol. If you go in there, you’ll need to ski with a buddy, bring avalanche gear with you, and research backcountry conditions.
According to Craig Kiley, who is the Senior Vice President of Planning and Development for the Aspen Skiing Company, here’s what you can expect if you venture out there:
“When those gates are open, people can go in and ski in the Pandora’s area, and there’s defined signage for where to get back out and reenter the ski area. When those gates are closed, we’re asking people to stay out of that because patrol, again, is in there trying to learn how to do avalanche control and otherwise learn the ins and outs of the property.”
Other Projects: Ruthie’s restaurant at Ajax has set empty for years, but it does host a few residents. Aspen Skiing Co. is considering what to do with it, with a revival possibly being in the works.
In 2024, their main focus will be the completion of their new Master Development Plan. Their MDP for Snowmass was just accepted by the U.S. Forst Service. Here’s what Chris Kiley had to say about the timeline for that process:
“With the Buttermilk base completed, we’re going to start turning our attention towards updating our mountain master plan. That’ll be a 2024 activity for us. Right now we’re focused in the planning department on our Snowmass mountain master plan update, which we’re going to take to the town of Snowmass Village here shortly, then we’ll turn our attention towards updating the mountain and hope to bring it to you to start discussing with you and the Forest Service, probably in 2024.”
Image Credits: Aspen Snowmass