On the hill: Ringing the Bell on Aspen Mountain one final time | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Ringing the Bell on Aspen Mountain one final time

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – You know it’s a strange ski season when one of your best runs is in May.

I was disappointed with how my lift-served ski season ended. Work and personal obligations kept me off Aspen Mountain for the extended weekends. So after the big dump of Thursday morning and the flurries into the weekend, I decided to make one more lap on Bell Mountain. Good call.

Snow conditions in early afternoon were still respectable enough to make the uphill slog worthwhile. I skinned through slush from the gondola to Bingo Gulch, then the surface had a texture and appearance that reminded me of Tres Leches cake until the F.I.S. lift., where it became marshmallow creme.

While catching my breath once I watched a couple of tele-whackers glide down the Shoulder of Bell. I could see from their skiing style that they weren’t fighting Sierra Cement, so that lifted my spirits.

Several skiers and riders were making laps on various parts of the mountain with snowmobiles, and other folks were skinning or snowshoeing up to take advantage of the second ski season. Smiles abounded while the sun dove in and out of the clouds.

After a short break at the upper Bell Mountain lift terminal – a granola bar and Slim Jim for me, biscuits for my dog Ginger – we hit the Ridge of Bell. There was still plenty of untracked powder. The high winds from Wednesday night and Thursday created knee-deep pockets in places, and just about all terrain had a couple inches of fresh snow. It wasn’t exactly champagne powder, but the snow hadn’t been cooked to the point where it was too heavy to have fun either. I felt like I was gliding more than lurching while turning into pockets of snow on the Shoulder of Bell.

I looked back once and saw a big smile on Ginger’s face as she bounded into powder pillows up to her chest.

A friend of mine says his favorite part of ski season starts when the chairlifts close. I’m not that ambitious. But with the snow continuing to fall, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass also look inviting this spring.