Aspen snow conditions — ‘wow’ covers it |

Aspen snow conditions — ‘wow’ covers it

A skier floats in powder on a trail in the Hanging Valley in the calm after the storm Tuesday. Uncut powder and wide open spaces were plentiful.
Bob Ward/courtesy photo |

I was starting to feel sorry for myself prior to Tuesday. Circumstances beyond my control conspired to keep me off the slopes during one of the best snowstorms Aspen and Snowmass have scored in a long time.

I helped with coverage of the Winter X Games on Saturday and Sunday. Truth be known, I couldn’t have skied Sunday if I wanted to. I was struggling with a cold for what seemed to be the billionth day this winter. Illness and work obligations kept me off the slopes Monday as well. It was painful listening to multiple friends comment on the fabulous conditions.

Enough was enough. I got a little bit ahead on Monday and cleared out Tuesday morning’s schedule. I picked up a friend in Basalt at 7:30 a.m. and we beelined for Snowmass. My heart is always on Aspen Mountain during a powder day, but traffic on Highway 82 is out of hand these days. We avoided the bottleneck, pulled into the Rodeo Lot and were clicked into our bindings by 8:30 a.m.

The Snowmass patrol did a fantastic job of getting the Hanging Valley terrain open bright and early, particularly considering Snowmass received 35 inches of snow in 72 hours. (Aspen Mountain also reported 35 inches. Aspen Highlands received 33 inches and Buttermilk logged 30.) Bombing was still going on in the Dikes, AMF, Gowdy’s, Rock Island and other trails west of the Wall. We couldn’t believe our luck to get into Hanging Valley prior to 10 a.m.

Our first foray into Hanging Valley was one of the best runs of my life. The snow was bottomless and uncut. We picked a steep pitch with nary another skier or snowboarder in sight. It was hero snow that made you want to come back for more.

We did just that. I know some people miss the old High Alpine chairlift. I must confess, I don’t. It was 15 minutes of torture with the edge of the seat cutting off circulation on the back of my leg. Plus, you can shave 8 minutes off the Hanging Valley loop via Alpine Springs and the new High Alpine lift.

We marveled at finding uncut powder in the Headwall. It’s often an exercise in linking turns in good snow that’s pocked with rocks. The rocks were buried Tuesday — not lurking beneath the surface, but fully buried.

My ski partner whisked past me a couple of times, letting out whoops and yelling, “This is #$%^$# amazing.” That was an understatement.

Alas, we had to call it quits in late morning to answer the call of duty. But I’m not pouting anymore. Even if there is a relapse, the skiing was worth it.

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