On the Hill: For openers …
The Aspen Times
Aspen Co, Colorado
ASPEN ” I never know whether to ski on opening day or not.
On one hand, it’s a celebration that all dedicated skiers and riders ought to observe, not unlike the solstice or other seasonal rites. On the other hand, the skiable acreage is always minimal and conditions are usually dubious.
I’ve skied some opening days and had a lot of fun seeing friends and making a few early-season turns. I’ve had others where I spent more time rescuing and soothing my children after icy crashes than I did skiing.
So, right up until Wednesday evening, I had no idea whether I’d ski on Thanksgiving or not. I actually ended up in something of a sideline location for opening day at Snowmass, and it was great.
A friend and I were both hungry for a workout, so we ended up slapping on our climbing skins and uphilling. We’d originally planned on a route that avoided most of the lift-served skiing, but there simply wasn’t enough coverage; so we ended up, like everybody else, at Fanny Hill.
It wasn’t the quiet, early-morning climb that many of us uphillers are accustomed to, but it was appropriate for opening day. As we slogged our way up the edge of the man-made swath, we got the usual mixture of friendly hellos and puzzled stares. The temperatures were mild, a light snow fell for part of the climb, we talked and laughed as we went and finally decided to turn around where Sneaky’s meets Sam’s Knob.
Stopping to peel off our skins and add layers for the ski back to the car, we watched the parade of people go by ” squealing little kids, speeding snowboarders, smiling seniors and everyone in between ” and discussed all the uphill races, hut trips and out-of-town ski excursions that we hope to make this winter.
Then we pointed our skis downhill and enjoyed a brisk ride back to the car. It wasn’t mid-winter powder, but it was fun. And we made a few plans for the rest of the season.
If you ask me, that’s a fine opening day.
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