Don’t panic, yet |

Don’t panic, yet

Allyn Harvey

Don’t panic, yet.

Yes, Highland Bowl closed early yesterday. And yes, there was a slide in the Y zones that buried the catwalk.

But, said Aspen Highlands patrol director Mac Smith, the early closure was planned as part of standard Bowl maintenance. “We’d already talked about it,” he said.

The warm weather over the past few days has started to change the consistency of the snowpack. In fact, Smith said, Monday night was the first of the winter where the temperature stayed above freezing, which has a radical effect on the snow.

So after closing the Bowl, patrollers dropped 80 pounds of explosives on southeast-facing Mosh Pit, which spends most of each day baking under the hot sun. Smith said the snow settled but did not slide.

Skiers and snowboarders who made it up the hill in time to make a few turns down the Bowl reported perfect early spring conditions ” soft and spongy on northeast aspects, powdery on true north ” from White Kitchen into the G zones. East-facing Box Car was skiing slushy by midday.

On Ajax, midday conditions ranged from rooster-tail slush above Bonnie’s Restaurant to spongy on Pussyfoot to crunchy and slick on Blondie’s. Regardless of one’s snow experience, the day was one of those exquisite spring days when it’s so warm that all you need is a sweater and a pair of blue jeans.

The Aspen Skiing Co. was predicting that the temperatures would reach 45 degrees on top and 52 at the base. Looks like they just about pegged it.

Every trail in the resort is open. Buttermilk has a 48-inch base, Aspen Mountain 58 inches, Snowmass 76 inches, and Aspen Highlands has a 78-inch base.

Sunny skies shining down on mountains covered with plenty of snow at the cusp of spring break. No need to panic. At least not yet.


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