On the hill: Superb ski days in spite of snowpack | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: Superb ski days in spite of snowpack

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – It was a long time coming this season, but I finally feel like I’ve settled into a comfortable pattern of splitting time equally among alpine, cross-country and alpine touring boards.

On Saturday, the atmosphere during a cross-country outing at Ashcroft was amazing – the blue of the sky was so intense that I wanted to take off my sunglasses for short stretches and gaze without a filter. The majestic peaks loomed to the south as we shuffled our way toward the Pine Creek Cookhouse through the hearty trunks of the thick aspen grove. The powder on either side of the groomed track was blemished only by the trails beat into the snow by scores of elk making their way down the slope to the creek below.

On Sunday, the conditions on the slopes seemed considerably better to me than the snowpack totals for the Aspen area would suggest. The snow was incredibly soft and the corduroy particularly buttery when my daughter and I got out for a few turns before dashing home to prepare for a Super Bowl party.

Work interrupted a good thing on Monday, but Tuesday I was able to escape back to the slopes, briefly, thanks to a night meeting and flexible hours. I met an old friend for a skin up Tiehack before the lifts fired up, something we religiously did every Tuesday morning since the mid-1990s. I’ve been derelict in my duties this year. Excuses have come fast and furious, but in the end, they’re just excuses. The few times that I have skinned up this winter, it’s reminded me that it is the ultimate conditioning activity. No amount of time in the gym offsets the workout you get from a grunt up Aspen Mountain, Highlands, Snowmass or even Buttermilk.