High and blasted | AspenTimes.com

High and blasted

Nate Peterson

I drove to Breckenridge last Friday to ride with my Dad and his good buddy John. The two of them try to make the drive up from the Front Range once every two weeks and get in some turns at Copper, where they both have passes. Since I’ve got three free lift tickets to nearly every resort in the state, I suggested we go to Breckenridge to check out the new Imperial Express lift instead. (Don’t get jealous about the lift tickets. The pizza delivery guy makes more than I do.)Breckenridge installed the new four-pack this fall on Peak 8. It now stands as the highest lift in North America. It goes up to 12,840 feet, and once off the lift, you can hike up another 100 yards or so to the actual summit, where the surrounding views are pretty spectacular.As for the whole experience, it wasn’t that great. I’d forgotten how windy Breck is, but was ever so gently reminded during a slow T-bar ride up the bare face of the peak. It was akin to standing in front of a sandblaster.Once we slid down to the base of the new lift, a line extended past the roped-off lanes leading to the swiveling turnstile. Since the Express is so high, and the winds whip around so much, there are only 15 chairs on the entire lift cable. The wait lasted longer than it takes to get a burger at Cooper Street.Once up top, the ensuing shot down the wind-lipped face of the bowl took all of two minutes. The snow was pretty decent, but with swarms of skiers and riders crisscrossing down the face at the same time, it was hard to find an untouched line.Don’t get me wrong, I had a great day with my dad. We downed two pitchers of beer and shared two baskets of wings after riding until 3 – my dad’s longest day in years.But after spending a day away from one of our four mountains – the first since heading to Loveland’s opening in October – I was happy to return to Aspen on Saturday. I was even happier when it snowed close to a foot on Sunday and Monday.Anybody need tickets to Copper?Snow reportPowder day! Aspen Highlands picked up 11 new inches overnight, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s 5 a.m. snow report. Aspen Mountain has 7 new inches, Snowmass got 6 and Buttermilk picked up 5.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate with pockets of considerable on NW-E-SE aspects at and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is moderate.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.

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