Epic season hits halfway mark | AspenTimes.com

Epic season hits halfway mark

ASPEN ” The ski season will be half over at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass as of noon Saturday, but many people already regard this winter as epic.

Superlatives get thrown around in this commercial era as readily as swag at the X Games, but if ever a winter deserved to be labeled epic, this is it.

Snowmass Ski Area had received 224 inches of snow through Thursday, according to Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman and statistician Jeff Hanle. The long-term average for an entire season is 300 inches. We don’t want to jinx it, but it looks like that record is going down.

Snowmass broke snowfall records in both December and January, and Aspen Mountain was close to its historic marks. Snowmass received 119 inches in December to top the old record by 2 inches. It received 95 inches in January to top the old mark of 87 inches. Skico records go back to 1980.

Regardless of whether you hit the downhill slopes every day or divide time between alpine, nordic and skinning/touring, there’s been plenty to cheer about this winter. By Hanle’s count, it snowed 18 days in December and 20 days in January. That means it snowed 38 of 62 days over the two months.

In addition, there were 10 days in December and another 10 days in January when it dumped 4 or more inches of powder on the slopes, according to Hanle’s count.

The Roaring Fork River basin’s snowpack was 51 percent above average as of Thursday, according to the federal agency that tracks snowpack throughout the West. The Natural Resources Conservation Service collects data from seven automated measuring stations in the basin. The snowpack east of Aspen was 38 percent above average.

Readings from stations in the Fryingpan and Crystal river valleys were even more impressive. The highest readings for the Roaring Fork basin were 66 percent above average at North Lost Trail near Marble and 67 percent above average at Nast Lake in the Fryingpan Valley.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported zero inches of new snow on local slopes in its Friday report, issued at 3:43 a.m.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Friday, Feb. 1:

The avalanche danger in the Aspen zone is considerable on all aspects and elevations. Look for locally higher danger in the southwest part of the zone, where more snow accumulated on Wednesday. Slopes near and above treeline facing north, east and south continue to pick up more wind deposited snow. This increasing load will make them especially tender.

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