Summer programming on the top of Aspen Mountain will look a little different this year as the Sundeck restaurant and Aspen Mountain Club get a complete roof renovation.
The Sundeck, which holds a cafeteria, bar and coffee shop, will be closed to the public during the renovation. The bathrooms will remain open to the public throughout the summer. Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of communications Jeff Hanle said the goal is to have the Sundeck back up and running as soon as possible, but the roof repairs are highly contingent on the weather, be it late spring snows or summer storms.
“We have to replace the roof. It’s outlived its useful life,” Hanle said, “and unfortunately we have a limited season in which we can do such things and that is going to impact some operations this summer.”
SkiCo has its eye on reopening Sundeck operations in the mid-July to mid-August range. The Aspen Mountain Club, a 4,400-square-foot, members-only portion of the building, will be closed for the entirety of the summer, as will the path to the wedding deck where public mountaintop yoga has been held in the past.
“It will impact some of the weddings and stuff we do there,” Hanle said.
As soon as Aspen Mountain closes for the season April 19, SkiCo and Pitkin County will be working to clear Summer Road up to the Sundeck from Aspen so that work trucks may use the route to begin construction.
That means there will be no extended skiing days on Ajax.
“But if we do have good snow, and we want to have Memorial Day skiing or an extended season in April, we will consider Highlands or Snowmass,” said Katie Ertl, mountain manager for SkiCo.
The Silver Queen Gondola will still be in operation for the summer. It will open for all of Memorial Day weekend, and then again daily beginning on June 13. Outdoor programming will still be available this summer, including the spirit nest, life-sized checkers, cornhole and disc golf, as well as the walking paths.
SkiCo has yet to solidify plans for food and beverage service, but odds are visitors will be able to get a burger.
“Our goal is to have the grill on the gondola side open for food and beverage,” Ertl said. “Weather can really play into this.”
For Memorial Day visitors, there will likely be an option provided by Ajax Tavern for a grab-and-go meal at the base of the gondola or some sort of food offerings at the top.
By August, bluegrass Sundays will return to the concert meadow out the Richmond Ridge Trail, and other entertainment may come back once the restaurant is reopened.
Ertl said throughout the summer, crews will be working to ensure the renovation doesn’t interfere with the guest experience, particularly safety as they use the interior bathrooms.
“We are going to put all the pieces in place to make it a safe environment for folks,” she said.
And the viewing platform with the iconic ridgeline featuring Mt. Hayden and Highland Bowl will be accessible all season.
“That platform will remain available for the money photo,” Ertl said.
The original Sundeck was designed by Fritz Benedict and Herbert Bayer. The Bayer-designed octagonal fireplace, matching the shape of the previous building, is still the centerpiece of the Sundeck now. The Sundeck in its current iteration opened in the 1999-2000 ski season and the roof has not been replaced since that time.
The aesthetics of the roofline will not be changing significantly, but some areas that are leak prone may be addressed in a redesign. Like the roof now, the new one will be insulated from underneath, keeping the warm interior air from melting the snow on top, and providing an additional buffer from frigid temperatures. The sustainable insulation of the roof helped earn the Sundeck acknowledgement in 1999 for, at the time, being only one of 10 LEED-certified buildings in the country.
SkiCo is still working with Pitkin County to submit final permits for the complete roof renovation. But the company is committed to keeping the gondola running and top of the mountain open for summer guests.
“It’s magical. It has the most incredible views,” Ertl said. “We really feel that it offers a unique opportunity for folks to get up and out of the town and to really take a look at the valley around us.”