On the Hill: Solo on Basalt Mountain
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
EL JEBEL ” Saturday was the first powder day of the new year on Aspen Mountain. Maybe that’s why I was skiing alone on Basalt Mountain, I don’t know.
Given the choice of hauling my gear and my butt up to Aspen or sticking closer to home in the midvalley, I did what I always do ” shrugged off my opportunity to ski at the world-famous resort up the road and turned the car toward Basalt Mountain.
Aspen Mountain wound up collecting 10 inches of snow on Saturday, according to Sunday’s snow report, and Basalt Mountain got a couple of inches, maybe. But, that 2 inches was already on the ground when I pulled up to the Basalt Mountain Road closure gate on Missouri Heights above El Jebel.
Ski conditions on the road can be iffy. It gets a lot of snowmobile use and, when a freeze/thaw cycle sets in, the road can be a hard-packed washboard. The little bit of fresh snow made all the difference for a ski tour that took me well up the road toward the upper reaches of the mountain.
I was the first one to set out through the fresh snow at mid-morning Saturday, though other skiers and dogs weren’t far behind. Once I hit the summertime parking area two miles past the gate and headed up the long climb, though, it was just me in the stillness of a cold, snowy morning. I didn’t see another soul until I was back at the parking lot and turning toward the final two miles back to the gate.
It was, I imagine, a far cry from the experience I passed up on Aspen Mountain, though that outing might well have been a stellar one, as well.
If I’m troubled at all by my choice, it’s because I have a $684 one-day-a-week ski pass burning a proverbial hole in my ski jacket pocket. I’ve been downhill skiing all of once so far this season, which means I paid nearly $700 to go skiing ” briefly ” at Snowmass. This makes the current walk-up lift ticket price of $96 feel like something of a deal by comparison.
With each approaching winter, it seems, I resist the inner inkling that I should simply forgo a ski pass altogether and accept that my priorities have shifted. I keep buying a pass that sees less and less use. Then, when the next season comes around, I promise myself I’ll go skiing more often and pony up for another ski pass.
Next August, when the Aspen Skiing Co. announces its “discounted” pass prices for locals who buy early, somebody needs to hit me over the head with a rolled-up newspaper and remind me about Saturday on Basalt Mountain.
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: The Colorado Department of Transportation gives Aspen’s roundabout a poor grade in terms of level of service so it’s thinking about making changes. But first, a study or two must be done.