King of the hill | AspenTimes.com

King of the hill

Jon Maletz

You can have your groomers. Your top-to-bottom leg-burners. After my first week on Aspen Mountain, I am convinced there’s no better place than the glades on the back of Bell Mountain.It took me a few days, but when I stumbled upon them, I felt like a prospector who had uncovered a gold nugget. There was knee-deep snow looking as fresh as the day it fell from the sky. Untracked terrain surrounded by a canopy of towering aspen trees stretched to my right and left. And not one skier was in sight. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling readers this.I now had the chance to test my early-season legs and what I hoped was improved turning. I pushed off cautiously, plotting my first turn with precision. I paused briefly as I gazed between the trees, feeling much like a slalom skier. These gates were hardly as forgiving, however. I was lucky not to find out. Knock on wood. I wasn’t concerned about linking graceful turns or weary of the sarcastic comments many skiers (but never me, of course) encounter on runs under the lift. I was working hard and cherishing every moment of it.When I emerged from the treeline, the sense of accomplishment and heightened confidence was rewarding. If I could make it through the glades, I was sure I could make it anywhere on the mountain.Maybe Frank Sinatra was onto something.Avalanche reportAn avalanche warning remains in effect through this morning. The danger is high on all aspects and elevations, and additional loading from blowing and drifting snow will keep it high.Avalanche activity continues today. Highlights from Saturday and Sunday include two controlled slides on ESE aspects that stepped to the ground. Two people were caught in separate avalanches Saturday in the Aspen area. One person was fully buried for a short time. The other person was partially buried. Skiers more than 300 feet away, standing in safe, low-angle terrain, triggered several of the avalanches near Red Mountain Pass remotely. Observers in all mountain areas reported big whumpfing sounds indicative of collapsing and long shooting cracks.Avalanche danger details provided by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.