Gotta love ’em
March is definitely Gaper Month in the Colorado high country. It’s the spring break thing. There are a lot of out-of-towners here during the holiday window in late December and early January, but that’s only for two weeks. This month we get a new crowd of obvious, oblivious tourists each week.If you’re unfamiliar with what a gaper is, well, odds are you might be one. There are some telltale signs. If you like to make big giant slalom turns down the Buttermilk halfpipe, unaware of the crowd of locals waiting to drop in above, you’re a gaper.If you ski in jeans, you’re a gaper. If you snowboard in a jester hat, or ski in a neon/pastel combination one-piece, or a Starter jacket with your favorite team’s logo on the back, you’re a gaper.Headbands. Rear-entry ski boots. Zinc oxide on the nose.They’re all red flags.Not that being a gaper is a bad thing. In fact, this place couldn’t survive without them. Gapers spend lots of money in local restaurants. They rent skis and snowboards and buy multi-day lift tickets. They order round after round in local bars. They enjoy coming here, and locals help ensure they want to come back.And though locals hate to admit this, they’re tourists just the same when they venture to resort locales outside this valley. Go to Hawaii and attempt to surf, and the locals will call you a kook. On the Jersey Shore, if you’re not a local, people will refer to you as a shoobie. Most importantly, gapers are always great for a few laughs.The yard-sale crashes. The oblivious, open-mouth expressions while standing in the middle of a crowded run, or atop a huge kicker in the terrain park. The hilarious questions on the chairlift. (Example: “What kind of machine do they use to make all the bumps?”)You gotta love them, even if they do get in the way sometimes.(Editor’s note: Aspen Times Managing Editor Allyn Harvey, a lifelong local, fits into this category, given that he donned a pair of jeans and a puffy jacket on Aspen Mountain Wednesday.)Snow reportSnowmass and Aspen Highlands are reporting five inches of new snow over the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s 4 a.m. snow report. Buttermilk and Aspen Mountain each picked up three inches.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate near and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is low.Keep an eye out for human-triggered sloughs and soft slabs with the new snow. These will generally be shallow but may be easy to trigger on some slopes.Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, 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.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.