On the hill: Off to a slow start | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Off to a slow start

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

SNOWMASS – The paucity of terrain open so far this ski season is of little concern to me. As it turns out, one short run at Snowmass is all I can handle anyway.

I headed out there Sunday intending to make good on my resolve to start skinning up stuff and skiing down it. It was slow going – in both directions.

There were bright spots, though, including the free parking being offered in the garage at Base Village, sparing me the hassle of parking in the Rodeo Lot and schlepping my telemark skis, pack and other gear on a shuttle bus up to the mall. And there was the weather, which isn’t boding well for the ski season but made for a pleasant outing in sunshine and high enough temperatures for a single layer of clothing and a baseball cap.

On the other hand, despite my devotion at the gym, I was breathing heavily and sweating profusely before I cleared the Westin (the hotel formerly known as the Silvertree), sprawling alongside Fanny Hill.

There appeared to be just one route open for those making laps on the Village Express lift, green runs served by the lift’s midway loading station, but the downhill traffic, all squeezed onto the same ribbon of man-made snow, was light enough to make going against the flow possible.

I have a couple of friends who’ve declared their intention to skin up Aspen Mountain on alpine-touring gear this season. I was hoping I might join them, but I’m clearly not ready. I didn’t quite make it to the chairlift’s midway stop, which was my goal. The descent was less than impressive, as well – a gruelingly slow set of unsteady tele turns interrupted by a breather halfway down to rest my quivering legs.

Never before have I looked forward to the opening of the beginner terrain on West Buttermilk with such anticipation. Ajax will have to wait.