Boss, I’ll be in late today |

Boss, I’ll be in late today

Brent Gardner-Smith

One of the first “real” powder days of the 2000-01 season greeted the faithful Monday morning, and by the end of the day lucky skiers were telling tales of plunging through a foot of fresh.

And some of those tales may have even been true.

Aspen Mountain reported nine inches upon opening, and the midway stake read 13 inches by noon, thanks to a consistently heavy snowfall throughout the morning.

Aspen Highlands had an official six fresh inches at opening, but trustworthy reports indicate that trails in lower Highland Bowl were skiing like there was at least a foot.

“Today was very good,” said Highlands mountain manager Ron Chauner, who said he encountered 12 to 14 inches in Filip’s Leap, one of the lower runs in Highland Bowl. “It was deep in there.”

Patrol director Mac Smith agreed.

“We found places well over my knees and up to my thighs,” he said. “And shorter people were talking about face shots.”

The snow also allowed the patrol at Highlands to drop the rope on Lower Stein, Lower Golden Horn and one of the P-Chutes.

Snowmass reported six inches, allowing the Hanging Valley Wall to open at about 10 a.m. According to mountain manager Rob Baxter, “It was a very good ski day.” The area had picked up 11 inches over the 72 hours prior to Monday morning.

More snow is in the forecast for later today, and two to five inches are expected, or at least hoped for, by Wednesday morning.

The current “zonal flow” weather pattern is optimum for producing more snow, said Snowmass patroller John Coulter. He explained that the best storms for the Aspen area come directly out of the West and that it is currently snowing in Utah.

“We are in that zonal flow pattern, and it is expected to hold until Sunday night,” Coulter said. “The next storm should arrive sometime Tuesday.”

When asked if there was any action snow-starved locals could take to improve the chances of more snow coming, Coulter laughed and suggested, “Face west and inhale at the same time.”

OK, everybody, mass inhalation at noon today.

The best call for today is probably the top of Highland Bowl, as none of the runs above the Fundeck Gate opened on Monday but are expected to open this morning.

According to Smith, “there is a 50-50 chance the Epic Flag will fly” today, depending on how much wind blew overnight and if the sun is out this morning.

The Epic Flag at Highlands only gets flown on “days you absolutely shouldn’t miss,” according to Chauner. While Monday didn’t qualify, Tuesday may, at least in the upper Highland Bowl.

“If you have a job your were thinking about quitting, today would be a pretty good day to do it,” joked Smith.

While yesterday’s snow was a huge improvement over the bony conditions found on Saturday, another 10 inches or so would go a long way toward opening up the steep trails that still need snow.

AMF, Gowdy’s, Garrett Gulch, the Cirque Headwall and Possible at Snowmass are still closed. At Highlands, Moment Chutes and Twilight Zone need more snow, as do Silver Rush and Franklin Dump on Ajax.

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