On the hill: Powder-day break | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Powder-day break

Ryan Slabaugh
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. – Last weekend, I headed east to catch the front end of the big blizzard that dropped a couple feet on the Denver-friendly resorts. Along the way, I relearned the pleasure of taking a powder-day break with friends.

The trip was worth it, just to see some old pals, but the two-foot snowstorm could not have been a better bonus. Despite the occasional Datsun performing a 720 on the interstate and an ice-road trucker blinding everyone in the right lane, we arrived safely and quickly pounded out the front side of Copper Mountain with tracks.

It did not take long for our early-season legs to start to fail, and thoughts of a feast and a beer began to block our views of the untouched powder. But we weren’t giving up on this day. Around noon, we skied into some trees far from a run, undressed a bit, and let our senses catch back up to where we were.

There is something to be said for that first break during a powder day, especially in December. On Saturday, as I sat in the woods with friends and opened up a backpack for some refreshments, I felt the world slow down and then, finally, stop. We all got quiet.

With the short-term memories of snow hitting our faces, you could almost hear the echoes of clacking skis under the snow, and the corresponding whistles and hoots from my friends. But all that faded as we reclined into the slope, creating our own little snow chairs, and watched absolutely nothing happen in front of us. Silence. Even the trees stopped their songs. It could not have been more perfect, and it went on for some time.

And then, without a word, the break unanimously ended. This is what happens among those who ski together a lot. Telepathy, or something very similar, and whatever the thought was, it got us moving.

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One of my friends slips on a glove. Then another. Then his jacket. Someone said, “Yep.” I follow suit. Soon, with little extra conversation and only a grunt or two upon standing up, we looked down at what waited for us – a powder field.

The sun just started to peek out, and before I knew it, our skis were taking us down the hill. I couldn’t tell you if it was our best, or worst, run of the day. But by far, that was the best break of the season.