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Kill the caddy

Allyn Harvey

Skiing’s a lot like golfing.

OK, maybe not. But ski hills are a lot like golf courses in that they require intense and constant grooming.

Doubt that?

Try hiking up your favorite mountain two weeks after the season ends, preferably to ski some fresh powder, and see how different the trip down is after 14 days of neglect.

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Skiing becomes much more difficult without grooming equipment and people packing the fresh snow into the base. Without Snowcats, snowboarders and skiers mixing it all up, the new snow just sits on top of the old. Dust on crust – squared.

But you don’t have to wait for the season to end to understand. After nearly two weeks of unseasonably hot, sunny days, snow conditions on all four mountains are breaking down.

Most runs, especially the steeps, are going unskied and ungroomed, as people stay on those trails that have received the loving attention of overnight grooming. By late afternoon yesterday, much of Aspen Mountain’s famous steeps were nearly impassable.

The spine of the Ridge of Bell was in great shape at 2:30. The moguls were just right for a zipper-shot. But as the aspect changed from north to northwest, the snow went from soft to rotten. Each turn down the Shoulder of Bell was worse than the one before it. The big round moguls that cover the run were ghosts of season-past, hollow and empty.

The face of the Ridge of Bell was better, especially on the skiers left. But the snow was more and more rotten with each turn down, even on that shady north aspect.

With each turn, you never know whether you’re going to sink or ski. These are the conditions that turn even the best skier into a duffer. Problem is there’s no caddy to blame.

It appears Buttermilk took the brunt of Wednesday night’s rainstorm. The midmountain base total fell 10 inches, from 37 inches Wednesday morning to 27 inches yesterday.


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