Aspen skiers have been fickle or fanatical this season |

Aspen skiers have been fickle or fanatical this season

A rider sends up a cloud of powder Feb. 16 in Snowmass. Snowmass has received 82 inches of snow this month as of Tuesday, according to Aspen Skiing Co. The average for the month is 52 inches.

Skiers and snowboarders seem to fall into two groups this season — those who hit the slopes despite the tough early-season conditions (the fanatics) and those who finally broke out the boards Feb. 10 (the fickle).

It's been interesting to run into long-lost friends and acquaintances and ask them about their season. One guy I know seemed to answer with disdain in January when I asked, "You been out on the slopes yet?"

He kind of smirked and said dismissively, "Been out 25 times."

He didn't say it, but it sounded close to, "Of course I have. I'm a diehard."

Another acquaintance went out just about every day and kept giving his standard answer about ski conditions — "Never better." However, even he couldn't say it with a straight face earlier this season.

On the flip side, I've heard from an equal number of folks who were either biding their time until it snowed or were ready to write off the season.

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I fell into the patient camp. I spent only a handful of days on skis of any type prior to Feb. 10, but trusted the old-timers who swore the snow would finally come. Right they were.

The highlight of my season-to-date was the monster powder Saturday when The Aspen Times threw a community party at the Buckhorn Cabin on Aspen Mountain. Heavy, wet snow fell all day (16 inches at Snowmass and over a foot at Aspen Mountain) and created a festive mood. Skiers and snowboarders would swing in for a drink and then go make a lap or two before returning.

The snow fell heavy all day. We claimed credit for turning the season around.

After that big dump, the local slopes received snow four consecutive days Feb. 12 to 15 and then eight straight days Feb. 18 to 25.

For the month, Snowmass received 82 inches of fresh going into today, according to Aspen Skiing Co. Average for the month is 52 inches.

The hard-luck story of the season goes to a longtime valley resident who rarely, if ever, misses a day on the slopes, even if it's just for a run or two before working. He was a trooper this season and took his turns on Aspen Mountain even during the meager conditions. By the time the powder pipeline finally opened up, he had fallen victim to the crud that's swept the valley this winter. A friend called him to rendezvous on a powder day only to find he was in the hospital with the flu and/or pneumonia. Talk about tough luck.

Here's hoping the powder days keep coming, for his sake and ours.