Let the chin lead
December 19, 2005
The snow on Ajax on Monday was soft and fast.Two warm-ups down the face of Dipsy Doodle and Pump House had me primed. It was as if the bumps were custom-made for Roger and me – perfectly round, perfectly soft.The Roger I was skiing with was Roger Marolt. It was the first time we’d skied together in recent memory; maybe the first time ever, as I don’t think we were slogging around in the ski club at quite the same time. Needless to say, the pressure was on. Roger’s the son of Olympian Max Marolt and nephew of Olympian Bill Marolt, so he knows what a decent turn looks like.Like I said, our warm-ups were perfect. Both my legs and confidence were coming to me. Flying past lift No. 3 with plans for a ride up to the Ruthie’s side, I let my skis pick up speed. My thoughts were on the bumps and buttery snow I’d be floating through as soon as I rose up on to the lowest aspect of FIS. A few quick turns through the widespread bumps just above lift No. 6.Then, quite suddenly, both my bindings ejected. I was floating over the snow all right, but not the way I’d been dreaming of a few seconds prior. I was a low-flying missile with my feet splayed out behind me and my chin projecting forward and out. I was literally flying through the air, leading with my chin. Roger figured I was going about 30 mph when I ejected.And it was my chin that broke the surface of the snow first. Snow kicked up into my face and filled my goggles, mouth and nose. I trenched through the soft snow for a good six feet before coming to a stop.I rolled over, pulled my goggles off and smiled, saying something like, “That’s the best fall I’ve had in five years.” Actually, it’s the best since I was in fifth or sixth grade when I left skis, poles, a hat and both gloves strewn over about a 100-foot stretch of Dipsy Doodle after catching an edge while being chased down the mountain by my friend Peter Secrist. Like then, I was fine Monday. “If you were in your car, you would have totaled it. Good thing it was only your head,” Roger said.Good thing.Snow reportSnowmass is reporting 6 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours. Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk are all reporting 5 inches of fresh stuff.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger is moderate with pockets of considerable on N-E-SE aspects above and at treeline. Below treeline, the danger is moderate. Light snows and moderate southwest winds have begun to produce avalanches, including some on the east aspects of Garrett Peak near Snowmass on Monday. Those eastern aspects will be suspect again today.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.