Going solo | AspenTimes.com

Going solo

Jon Maletz

I had just completed the kind of run that makes a skier want to laugh out loud. After negotiating a narrow opening through the pines on Back of Bell – fast becoming my favorite stomping ground – I emerged from the trees in triumph.As I stopped to catch my breath and revel in the moment, I glanced off into the distance in every direction. There was no one in sight. It was at that moment I had an epiphany of sorts. While putting on the headphones and pointing the skis in any direction I choose is gratifying, there just isn’t an experience quite like skiing alongside your friends.I remember sitting in the lodge at Okemo Mountain in Vermont a few years back, trying to fight back a smile as I watched a friend try to fit into his ski boots. The sun from a nearby window mercilessly beat down on him. He looked like he had just completed a one-mile run. We joked he must have lost a pound or two. Then there was that fateful gondola ride at Stratton in Vermont; We made it all the way to the summit before my friend made the realization he grabbed the wrong pair of rental skis off the rack. Four of us watched as he tried to maintain balance in the wind as he repeatedly tried to jam a boot into a binding no more than half the size. He was adamant the boots would fit; We were just hoping the moment wouldn’t end. We made sure to take the run under the lift so we could periodically smile and wave as he downloaded. I miss the snide remarks that flowed effortlessly following feats of athleticism fit for a blooper reel. I miss watching friends brace themselves after a fall for a complimentary hockey stop to bury them in powder. I’m sure I’ll survive my solo jaunts on Ajax and Highlands. I have little reason to complain. Besides, I’ll always have the memories. And I’m sure there are more to come.Snow reportLocal mountains have received 5 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s 5 a.m. report.Avalanche reportThe avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate, with pockets of considerable on N-E-S aspects at and above treeline. Below treeline, the danger is moderate. Caution should be used when traveling near terrain greater than 35 degrees near and above treeline. If triggered, these slopes have the potential to run quite large and long distances. Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, call the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.