On the Hill: Hey snow junkies, this one’s for you
They say April can be the snowiest month, and if this April was a symphony, its coda would top Beethoven’s Ninth for oomph.Most of last week – the final week of April – the skies were clouded over and spitting moisture. While the valley turned brown under melting snow and green in its landscaped regions, snow piled up at higher elevations, to the delight of those who refuse to put away their skis.I’m not ashamed to admit I’m one of those – yes, a snow junkie. While most of my friends are escaping to the beach or the desert, or accumulating mileage on their bikes, I am happily looking forward to the next month of spring skiing. And it’s shaping up to be pretty good so far.Aspen Mountain and Little Annie’s were popular spots last week as the snow accumulated thick and heavy. Little Annie Road is clear about a quarter-mile up from the usual winter snowmobile parking area, which makes for a quicker skin to the Sundeck. Skiing was variable this past weekend in Little Annie’s, but coverage was solid. And if you got out early enough, you’d get plenty of fresh tracks in good, spring mashed potatoes.Skiing on the backside, McFarland’s especially, was iffy on Sunday – a dense, deep layer on top of rotting depth hoar in spots. Some east and northeast-facing aspects, including Kristi’s, sported wet heavy slides, although the skiing in Walsh’s was at its prime, in my humble opinion.The Face of Bell was sublime on Saturday – no bumps, just 8 fresh inches of forgiving, heavy powder – and apparently everyone who was there told all their friends, because Sunday resembled a mid-January day in terms of traffic.Several locals remarked that it’s a shame the Skico no longer opens for weekends post-season. And with even more snow in the forecast, the lifts surely would not be empty (I know, I know, you can’t make a profit after Easter …).In Colorado, only Silverton (by demand only) and Arapahoe Basin are still open for lift-serviced skiing. Snowbird is just a six-hour drive away. But if you have skins or a sled, and you’re a snow junkie, the world around here is your oyster.
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Citing the fire threat, the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday closed about 1,555 square miles of forest land in five counties near Colorado’s heavily populated Front Range — an area bigger than the state of Rhode Island.