On the Hill: So, is Aspen a real ski town?
You know you live in a real ski town when … you four-wheel drive up to Montezuma Basin in mid-October and find four other vehicles parked haphazardly on the sides of the road before the road becomes impassable, and several dirt-spattered ruts where said vehicle(s) attempted to climb higher.You know you live in a real ski town when … as you’re hiking up that steep first pitch, and occasionally sinking up to midthigh in the soft snow, you see four other people ahead of you, probably sinking deep, too, and hear them whooping and hollering with delight.You know you live in a real ski town when … a photo appears on the front page of the other newspaper that lets on that you were there, and you get a string of phone calls from friends asking for specific details about the conditions, how far you can drive up, and how good you think it’ll be in the next few days when they get a chance to go.So here’s the skinny for all those folks who haven’t gotten up there, or who wasted precious time and gas money to go to Loveland and ski the White Ribbon of Death: Montezuma was well, well worth it. Worth the drive, which ended a half-mile from the top (even with chains). Worth the extra hike on the road, which you couldn’t even ski down in the afternoon because most of the snow had melted by then. Worth the hour-and-a-half hike to the top of the snowfield through deep, light, midwinter snow. Definitely worth the glorious 20 minutes or so it took to ski down, through a foot of fresh with the faintest ever suncrust on top, all the suncups buried under the new snow. To top it all off, just the view was worth it – a vast alpine vista, all the surrounding peaks covered with their first veil of white of the season, set against the bluest of Colorado bluebird skies. And to the three guys who climbed Castle Peak via the saddle between Castle and Conundrum, in order to ski a gully on the other side: You really didn’t have to do that – the snow was sweet throughout the basin. Oh well, just means we got first choice on lines.
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