On the hill: Does it get any better than this? | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Does it get any better than this?

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – January snowfall was well short of average around Aspen, according to the folks who track that sort of thing. But that doesn’t mean the conditions are subpar. After last weekend, I know for a fact they aren’t.

First, I made good on my somewhat feeble resolve to skin up the slopes a lot more often this winter by heading to Buttermilk, my usual destination for that particular endeavor because the Tiehack side of the ski area is about all I can handle, going up or down, on telemark skis.

The last time I skied Tiehack, I ran into two people I know. They were skinning up in separate groups as I picked my way down, but they somehow recognized me.

“Learning to telemark?” one of them asked.

“No. This is as good as I get,” I retorted.

I’m going to have to do a better job of skiing incognito so no one knows it’s me making those ungainly turns.

Anyway, on Saturday I went with a companion who insisted West Buttermilk would be a sufficient test of her endurance. The day was warm and sunny, and the climb was much easier and shorter than the Tiehack route. My turns felt good on the tamer terrain, and the snow conditions were superb. I found myself remarking that the snow was so good, I wished I was actually skiing. What I meant was alpine skiing, probably at Snowmass, and making a day of it.

Admission: I almost never utter a desire go to skiing. I have a four-day Classic Pass that hasn’t yet been touched. But that’s how nice the skiing was on West Buttermilk.

On Sunday, a friend and I returned to Spring Gulch outside Carbondale for another fine couple of hours of nordic skiing. With the recent spate of springlike weather, I feared the trails might be crusty – the way they get when cold nights are followed by days warm enough to really soften up the snow.

Instead, the groomed trails were in perfect shape, though we happened to hit Spring Gulch during an annual fundraiser for the Mount Sopris Nordic Council that had skiers lapping a marked route.

We did our best to stay out of their way, which put us on some freshly groomed trails that had seen virtually no traffic.

It was perfect, again.


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