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January 10, 2011
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On the hill: Marshmallow bliss at Snowmass

SNOWMASS - Local skiers and riders were on the receiving end of a one-two punch Sunday and Monday that left them yearning for more.

The big dump combined with frigid temperatures and a bluebird day created conditions on Monday morning that were wonderfully reminiscent of the Thanksgiving Day opening. And conditions were about as different as possible from the rainy period we experienced just four weeks ago.

I was able to venture out for a couple of hours before work, so I slid up to Snowmass rather than crawl through the traffic bottleneck at Buttermilk to get to Aspen Highlands or Aspen Mountain. Good call. Snowmass was blanketed with 16 inches of snow over a 48-hour period as of early Monday afternoon, and nine inches of fresh in the prior 24 hours, Aspen Skiing Co. reported.

A few inches of powder fell after the lifts closed on Sunday to create a nice insulating blanket atop the cut-up powder from Sunday. It was still 2 below as of 8:30 a.m. Monday, so the snow remained light and fluffy.

Snow like Monday's always brings back memories of my first year at college. I was a soda jerk at the student union of my university for one semester. The specialty of our stand was milkshakes, and I became I master of mixing chocolate and marshmallow concoctions. I still dream of the marshmallow creme we used there. Monday I felt like I was gliding through that same marshmallow creme of perfect consistency on the Powerline Glades right after the Big Burn chairlift opened at 9 a.m. A few runs later I found myself alone while bobbing over the marshmallow pies filling the length of Garret's Gulch.

Time deficit, also known as a full-time job, prevented me from venturing over the Hanging Valley Wall, but I can imagine how well is was skiing.

In addition to giving skiers and riders their kicks, the snowstorm gave the valley a psychological boost. It finally feels like winter, particularly downvalley, where rainy weather in mid-December and warm temperatures had extended the fall mud season and the landscape remained a dull gray and brown into the New Year. For at least the balance of this week, a brilliant coat of whitewash will cover everything.

I've had no complaints about the skiing conditions at higher elevations this year. But persuading non-skiers and infrequent skiers that the conditions really were good up high was a chore. This whitewashing is sure to make believers out of them.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 11, 2011 06:29AM Published Jan 10, 2011 05:53PM Copyright 2011 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.