Blue sky powder |

Blue sky powder

Joel Stonington
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Wednesday was a day locals have been relishing. Though Sunday was a nice powder day, there were still a lot of tracks waiting to be made.

So when the top-to-bottom made its season debut Wednesday morning, all of Bell Mountain opened along with the Glades.

Oddly, it seemed nobody knew it was going to happen since the runs got tracked out so slowly. We essentially got fresh runs down the Ridge of Bell, Keith Glen and Glades two and three.

The runs were bottomless, light powder, turn after turn. There were a few spots where the snow was sun-affected or the snow cover was light; but for the most part, it was perfect early season powder.

Of course, it spit you out onto Spar or Copper and down onto a Little Nell that was full of death cookies and small trees poking out. It was hard to look graceful on the low man-made snow.

No matter, because it’s only getting better. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 1 to 3 inches Wednesday night, 2 to 4 during the day Thursday and 3 to 7 on Thursday night.

So break out the powder skis for the Highlands opening on Saturday. It looks like it’s going to be good.

The avalanche danger in the Aspen zone is considerable on NW-N-NE-E aspects near and above treeline, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s Thursday report. Human-triggered avalanches remain probable on steep heavily wind-loaded slopes. On other aspects and below treeline the danger is moderate. As new snow accumulates, constantly reassess for rising avalanche danger.

Says the CAIC: “We continue to receive reports of human- and artificially triggered slides in areas where old snow has become a weak faceted base layer underneath recent storm snow and stiff surface wind slabs. You are most likely to find this combination of features on steep NW-N-NE-E aspects near and above treeline. A foot of new snow in the forecast will add further weight to the snowpack. The snow will be falling on a variety of snow surfaces, including sun crusts and hard wind slabs. The new snow will easily slide on these hard surfaces. On shady aspects where the weak base layer exists, slides could step down into the older snow to create larger, more destructive avalanches. Be particularly watchful for signs of instability such as cracking, whumpfing, and recent avalanche activity. The avalanche danger will be on the rise Thursday. You will need to constantly assess for changing conditions and make travel decisions.”

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