When I came into the office in ski gear at 8 a.m. yesterday, one co-worker said, as if incredulous at the idea, “You’re going skiing?!” Another mumbled repeatedly, “Minus nine. Minus nine,” referring to the temperature at the time. In fact, it was bitterly cold – perhaps the coldest Dec. 5 on record. Had I not already had my ski clothes on, I may have been persuaded not to venture out.But there was one determining factor: three feet of new snow in the past week, and the rumor (promise?) that the Dumps and Walsh’s would open. I was definitely going to be on board that ski train yesterday.Well, I wasn’t there right at the drop of the rope, but oh boy, was that first run worth the wait. And the next one. And the next one. There’s a shot down one of the Dumps (I’m not even going to say which one) that tends to get overlooked – a steep opening pitch that allows you to get just enough momentum for face shot after face shot, all the way down to Spar. We skied it twice, and it was even better the second time. The frigid temps kept yesterday’s snow light and airy, and with the emergence of the sun (what a concept!), the clouds of snow skiers kicked up were just about the prettiest sight you’ve ever seen. And after the madness of the powder-hungry weekend crowds, the relative tranquility on Monday morning was refreshing. Dedicated powderhounds who stuck around experienced Walsh’s at its deepest and softest in the afternoon.Over at Snowmass, most of the runs on Sam’s Knob opened over the weekend, and Sheer Bliss lived up to its name when they let the crowds in on Saturday.It’s the best early season in a couple of decades, some locals say, and sizable chunks of both Aspen and Snowmass have yet to open. This is shaping up to be the kind of season when you gotta wonder why Highlands’ season starts so late. Sure, with these conditions, ski patrol is working overtime, and yes, we’re probably spoiled, but … we still want more.Avalanche reportNatural avalanche activity has been slowed for now, but the snowpack remains very, very touchy. It is easy to trigger avalanches, even from a distance. With additional loading from winds on Monday, leeward slopes will be even more sensitive. The danger is high on N-E-SW aspects near and above treeline, and on all aspects below treeline.Avalanche danger details provided by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.
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