A pass at the poma: Getting comfortable with ride to Snowmass Cirque | AspenTimes.com

A pass at the poma: Getting comfortable with ride to Snowmass Cirque

Anna Stonehouse
The Aspen Times
The view from the Cirque on Snowmass ski resort on Sunday.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

For three ski seasons now in Aspen I have avoided riding the poma up to the Cirque area on Snowmass.

Why, you ask? From what I’ve gathered from longer-term locals than myself is, “It’s not usually worth it,” “It’s a tourist trap,” “There’s better terrain on the rest of the mountain” or, “It’s always windswept.” Hearing all of these lackluster comments and watching the process of getting pulled up part of the slopes by a cable system after waiting in line for a while never appealed to me.

However, Sunday in Snowmass conditions appeared to be ideal and the group who I was touring the mountain with decided to get in line and head up to the Cirque. This poma is different than the T-bars I’ve ridden before; it has a circular dish you put between your legs instead of the “T” part that pushes your booty up the mountain. Flashbacks from being a child at a ski resort in Wisconsin where I attempted my first t-bar swept into my brain. I was about 5 years old and completely sat down on the T-bar (exact opposite of what they tell you to do) and remained hanging onto it while getting dragged up the track until enough people screamed at me, “Let go!” A more recent flashback was of my friend Katie in Breckenridge, on her first T-bar experience in front of me. Similar to my 5-year-old self, Katie got dragged up most of the mountain after mistakenly sitting on the t-bar and resulted in very sore biceps from the experience. I still laugh out loud thinking about it — good friend, I know.

After scanning the line on Sunday I noticed there weren’t very many snowboarders like myself waiting to go up. Hmm, why was that, I wondered? The few who did go up before me I studied intently to see how the process went before my turn. It appeared to go smoothly for them but my fear of humiliation for my potential failure to those in line with me continued to progress. Shout out to the guy behind me who gave me the encouraging “You got this” before I went up. I was the last of my group to go up and desperately didn’t want to be the one who didn’t make it to the top.

Whew, deep breath, it was my turn. The liftie says to me, “So, you know the drill right?” “Nope!” was my response. He gave me a quick and dirty response of how to put the poma between my legs and said, “Just keep standing up.” I couldn’t help but laugh but hey, keep it simple right?

The takeoff went pretty smooth actually and I was surprised how as a snowboarder the ride wasn’t too bad minus the whiteout wind gusts from time to time. I made it to the top with hoots and hollers from my group and they told me, “You’re at the highest point in Snowmass!” We were all getting blasted with uncomfortable cold wind and snow in our faces so I retorted, “Let’s get off of it.”

I must say, riding down the Cirque with this fresh snow we got this week was actually pretty glorious. It was creamy snow (if you know, you know) and absolutely delightful. Moral of this story is, I won’t be so quick to dismiss a feature I haven’t explored on the mountain next time until I can give it my own two cents!