On the hill: Local knowledge | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Local knowledge

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

THE CANYONS, Utah – After all that warm weather in March, I thought I had begun to turn the mental corner into spring. But family business beckoned last weekend in Park City, Utah, and I figured I’d be foolish not to bring my skis.

The forecast looked positive for snow, but given the National Weather Service’s track record this winter, my expectations were low.

When Saturday, April 9 dawned with a foot of fresh, however, I was all but drooling to try out my new (used) fatties. The calendar said April, but the weather said February. My folks hooked me up with a friend from the area who offered to show me the stashes, and I don’t think it could have worked out any better.

I met Tom and his dog, Trouble, in the parking lot at The Canyons, and we ended up ripping freshies all morning. It was a reminder of the power of local knowledge – especially on a powder day.

As the multitudes flocked to The Canyons’ better-known steeps and upper peaks, Tom guided me to line after untracked line in the resort’s oldest, northernmost corner, a single- and double-diamond ridge served by a high-speed chair that enabled us to do quick laps – no food breaks or other interruptions – and log some 21,000 vertical feet in three fantastic hours.

We tried different aspects and areas of the ridge until we found the deepest, most consistent snow and flogged it for several screamers in a row – high-speed face shots on the wide-open slopes and quiet turns in untouched aspen groves. Many hoots and howls were heard, and my quads were sore when I quit.

Saturday was so good that Tom and I agreed on a repeat performance Sunday, and the weather cooperated. (Down in Salt Lake City the nightly newscasters were ringing the alarm about possible spring floods, owing to all the snow in the mountains.) We made our way back to the same ridge and noticed with delight that nearly all of Saturday’s tracks had filled in with fresh fluff. We skied like vikings for two hours before I hit the road for Colorado, just as the sun peeked through the clouds.

I made it home in time to grill steaks for the whole family.