Jane Goodall among the snowboarders | AspenTimes.com

Jane Goodall among the snowboarders

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” OK, so I don’t want to bring up an old controversy, but I’ve been skiing with snowboarders lately and I’m getting frustrated.

I guess I just feel sorry for them.

Sure, ripping powder on a board looks like a hoot, and I’m even up for giving it a go if I can find a cheap (OK, free) board and boots.

And the image of snowboarding is far improved over the dark days of the early 1990s, when many ski areas barred snow surfers and there was open hostility between “knuckle-draggers” and “two-plankers.”

Snowboarders just aren’t the bad boys of the slopes anymore.

With the rise of terrain parks and twin-tipped skis in recent years, the snowboarder’s skate-punk fashion and attitude has rubbed off on ski culture. And jibbers on skis look no different than their boarding counterparts.

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And just about everybody ” from my teenage nephew to dignified septuagenarians ” seems to be taking up the sport.

But when I see my friends lose speed on the catwalks of Aspen Mountain, for example, it looks like some kind of Medieval torture method, and I am so grateful I can skate and ski uphill.

Over the weekend, I was with a group of snowboarders who all got stuck in a flat section of Aspen Highlands.

The lads all bent over and hopped, flailed and propelled themselves along with their knuckles.

As the only one standing erect, I felt like Jane Goodall among a hapless troupe of chimpanzees.

And just as Goodall shows deep compassion for her hairy jungle friends, I found myself surveying the group with empathy, encouraging them on and even handing one guy the end of my ski pole to give him a boost.

I still think a table saw might solve their problem. Just split that big board in two and you’ll get yourself a good pair of skis!

Above treeline the avalanche danger is moderate on all aspects in the Aspen zone, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s Tuesday report. Near and below treeline, danger is moderate on slopes facing west, northwest, north, northeast, and east. The danger is low on other aspects. Unstable, windloaded slabs are possible on most steep slopes. High-elevation, shady slopes may have a weak layer at the bottom of the snowpack at a perfect depth for human-triggered slides.

Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for more information.