It’s all good |

It’s all good

SNOWMASS ” Two days last weekend brought very different skiing experiences ” both of them excellent for different reasons.

Saturday, I got rolling at the crack of 10 a.m. with my teenage daughter and thought we were going to pay the price for the delay when we arrived at Snowmass. The parking lots overflowed, so I thought the slopes would be crowded, too.

Wrong. Once we cleared the cluster at the base, it was Snowmass at its finest. The lift lines were negligible and the trails were uncrowded. (Every person who went skiing must have come in their own vehicle that day, based on conditions at the parking lots.) We waited for only a chair or two to load in front of us at the Big Burn and High Alpine, and the Alpine Springs lift line was almost the same.

The skiing still was phenomenal even though it wasn’t the powder feast we’ve come to expect most days since early December.

As uncrowded and delightful as Snowmass was, it couldn’t compare to the solitude and raw beauty of a backcountry ski tour on Sunday. Some friends picked a peak in the Capitol Creek drainage that posed low avalanche risk and high endorphin reward.

We trudged uphill for four hours, covering about five miles and 4,000 vertical feet until topping out above 12,000 feet. The payoff was the astounding view in every direction of the snowpacked Elk Mountains. Ansel Adams would have screamed in ecstasy over the ideal lighting from partial cloud cover.

Speaking of screams, our group of eight whooped it up while gliding through knee-high virgin powder bathed in shadows of aspen trees on gently-sloping hills. Our smiles per vertical were off the charts.

After a record-breaking snowfall in December and an equally wonderful start to January, you can’t go wrong skiing in the Roaring Fork Valley. It’s all good.

The Aspen Skiing Co. reported no new snow over the past 24 hours in its Tuesday, Jan. 15 snow report.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for the Aspen zone on Tuesday, Jan. 15:

The avalanche danger is considerable on north, northeast, east, southeast and south aspects near and above treeline. Pockets of considerable exist on southwest, west and northwest aspects on steep, cross-loaded slopes near and above treeline. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered ones probable. The avalanche danger below treeline is an overall moderate. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible here.

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