Curious conditions |

Curious conditions

Aspen Mountain was blown dry Sunday night. So was Aspen Highlands and Snowmass.

When the Highlands ski patrol put the rope up and closed Highland Bowl midday Sunday, winds were gusting up to 70 mph. A few of those caught in the maelstrom were doing everything they could to keep from being blown over.

Wind has a curious effect on snow, especially powder. Anyone who skied Ajax Monday was treated to awesome face shots and perfect powder turns interspersed with wind-scoured, rock-exposed sections and a few waist-deep, knee-wrenching, wind-compacted stoppers.

Slalom Hill under Lift 1A was horrendous ” almost unskiable. Indeed, a good amount of it was closed at the beginning of the day, simply because of those treacherous drifts.

The best run on the skier’s left of Aspen Mountain was a toss up between the Bearpaw Glades and F.I.S. Trail, which is perfectly positioned to gather all the snow the wind can blow from any direction.

On the skier’s right, Walsh’s was in great shape. So too, surprisingly, was the more wind-exposed Shoulder of Bell.

But all of it proved a little more challenging than one would expect on an epic powder day. It was definitely a sub-epic day. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great. It was.

Kudos to the Skico employees who busted their behinds to get the mountains open for all the impatient, sometimes grumpy locals looking to make first tracks.

Today should be great too, maybe even epic. Highland Bowl has been closed since the middle of the day Sunday. In addition to 12-plus inches of fresh snow, the wind has been loading the bowl for about 36 hours.

Aspen Highlands patrol has spent a good chunk of that time making it safe to ski and expects to open the Fundeck gate early today.

“We’ll have a lot of freshies,” promised one patroller.

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