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A blood sacrifice worth making

Catherine Lutz

I left my sacrifice to the snow gods on my way out of Bingo Glades on Monday: a few drops of blood in the snow. Confident of the bottomless powder I had been skiing all morning, I was traversing out at a high rate when I hit a bunch of barely covered roots and rocks, double-ejecting and falling flat on my nose.The damage could have been worse than a bloody nose and a couple of tiny scrapes, and the offering was well worth it. Monday easily ranked among the top three powder days of the season so far. All the elements came together perfectly: a fast and furious storm Sunday afternoon that dumped 10 inches on Aspen Mountain (at a rate of about 3 inches per hour), selective wind-loading that piled the snow up pretty good on east-facing slopes, a drop in temperature that kept the snow cold and fast, and to top it all off, totally cloudless bluebird skies all day. In fact, it was the first true bluebird powder day of the season, and sensing there was reason to celebrate, locals came out in force.But despite the insatiable appetite of the powder hounds, fresh tracks could be found all day on Aspen, Highlands and Snowmass, according to On the Hill sources, and Tiehack was skiing well into Tuesday. Thanks in part to the best base in recent memory – and a December snowfall that is 171 percent of average for the last eight years – the snow was still soft and there were a few patches of powder to be had (although they were disappearing rapidly).Anyone who missed out early this week can take heart – another storm is due to shower the area with its winter gifts this evening. Like most of the storms so far this season, it’s likely to be another short squall. According to the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center, accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are possible overnight.Perhaps my offering to the snow gods, a few more prayers, and/or another weird convergence of weather factors will bring more.Snow reportThe Aspen Skiing Co. is reporting no new snowfall in the past 24 hours in its 5 a.m. snow report. Snow depths at local ski areas range from 78 inches at the summit of Aspen Highlands to 59 inches at Snowmass, 44 inches on Aspen Mountain and 29 inches atop Buttermilk.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate with pockets of considerable at and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is moderate.Human-triggered avalanches are possible to probable in areas where crusts and surface hoar exist below the new snow. These areas may be well below ridgeline and normal start zones. Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, call the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.


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