Still Shredding: Ski Season Isn’t Over (Yet) …
ONE BY ONE, the local ski mountains began to call it a season. First it was Buttermilk, then Aspen Highlands. Snowmass was soon to follow, and then Ajax after a bonus weekend of lift-served skiing.
For some locals, it was time to head to the desert or some exotic locale for an early taste of summer. For others, work and school and life required that home, sweet home be the spring offseason destination. But others wanted more — more powder, more turns, more skiing and boarding.
While many might have headed to those Colorado resorts that seem to stay open year-round, a couple of Aspen Times’ staffers had their mind set on the backcountry. And not just any backcountry terrain, they wanted to get to the pristine landscape up Independence Pass — before the gates are opened to the public later this month (usually the Thursday before Memorial Day).
The Colorado Department of Transportation, which maintains the road and oversees its clearing and ultimate opening each spring, obliged. Tim Holbrook, a CDOT crew member who basically serves as lead maintenance man for Independence Pass, led the way by allowing a car to maneuver up the closed road as far the parking lot at the ghost town of Independence. He bowed out there to continue his work in the snowcat prepping the pass to open.
From there, Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster Colin Mitchell took over, guiding the now-skinning posse of powder-hungry skiers and boarders up some 2 miles to Geissler Mountain.
Thus, on a bluebird Colorado day, the threesome set out to document what it’s like to “earn your turns” after the lifts are closed.
What happened over the next few hours was a one of those “only in Aspen” moments for Aspen Times circulation director Maria Wimmer and Aspen Times photographer Anna Stonehouse. The photos tell the story.