On the hill: Powder blunder

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

SNOWMASS – A Monday morning uphill trip to Snowmass turned into a downhill adventure – in both the good and bad senses of the phrase.

First, the good. An uphilling partner suggested we try Snowmass. It was a good call, though at the time we had no idea we would find 6 inches of relatively light powder gracing most of the Big Burn. We departed at 7:30 a.m. after parking in a 90-minute space across Snowmelt Road from the mall. Our plan was to spend an hour skinning up, peel off our skins, put on other outer layers and scramble back to the car without risking a ticket.

By the time we made it to the Ullrhof Restaurant one hour later, we were salivating over the powder. We joined the first wave of skiers and riders just arriving at the upper-level lifts and headed to the top of the Burn while the sky churned out glorious amounts of the white stuff.

We intended to take just one juicy top-to-bottom run, so we went down Sheer Bliss and found it living up to its name. It was so good we decided to tempt fate, and the meter maid, and take another run. If the first run was Sheer Bliss, the second was Pure Ecstasy when we dove into the barely tracked Powerline Glades. The whoops and yells confirmed that others shared our sentiments.

We almost succumbed again to heading back to the top, but work ethic prevailed, and we headed back to the car. We were relieved to find we weren’t fined for spending 105 minutes in the 90-minute space. There was still plenty of parking left in that lot, so we didn’t feel guilty about poaching 15 minutes.

Now, the bad part of the experience. The euphoria of a great couple of runs turned to horror when I got home and realized I inadvertently invoked the 6-inch powder rule. Through my bungling of a laptop-computer calendar, I eliminated an 8:30 a.m. interview. I was oblivious to it as I plowed into my work until I glanced at my good, old-fashioned desk calendar. Talk about going downhill fast. Fortunately, the person I unintentionally snubbed was gracious in accepting a heartfelt apology. That saved the experience of a rare powder day this season.