On the hill: It sure beats TV | AspenTimes.com
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On the hill: It sure beats TV

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – We were somewhere between 12,500 and 13,000 feet when we decided to turn around. It wasn’t an easy decision, but the snow was nearly unskiable, the consistency of mashed potatoes, and we didn’t want to post-hole to the top of the peak, only to either trigger a wet avalanche or tear an ACL.

It was supremely anti-climactic. And no matter how wise a decision it may have been, you always feel like a gack when you turn around.

We’d all risen around 4 a.m., with visions of creamy spring corn in our heads. We’d waited several weeks for Lincoln Creek Road to open, so we could hike from the Grizzly Creek trailhead and ski 13,988-foot Grizzly Peak east of Aspen. We were already guessing it might be our last ski of the year, but we hoped for the best, as skiers will do.

We hiked in our boots for most of the way, then donned skis and skins when the coverage was sufficiently thorough. But the farther we went, the sloppier the snow became. Instead of cold spring Styrofoam with a soft corn layer on top, it was like warm, wet shave-ice, and we could sink our poles in deep without even trying.

By the time we got to the bottom of the big couloir above Grizzly Lake, we’d realized that reaching the top would mean an hour of relentless post-holing for a lousy and arguably dangerous ski descent. So we punted.

We made a few turns on the way down, on low-angle slopes between willows and islands of rock. It pretty much stunk. But even a mediocre ski tour beats the snot out of watching TV, doing house chores or shopping in Glenwood.

So now it’s on to summer pastimes, from backyard grilling to mountain biking. Grizzly wasn’t the crowning ski excursion we’d hoped for, but life sometimes serves up a thud instead of a bang.

All hail summer!

bward@aspentimes.com


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