On the hill: Winter arrives
December 8, 2009
Winter has been hinting and teasing for weeks now, but it feels to me like it finally has arrived in earnest.
Perhaps that’s because, after being out of town for a week, I clicked into my skis twice over the weekend and finally felt a winter groove. By the time you read this, Aspen may have received a healthy dump of snow, which would go a long way toward sealing the deal.
Saturday I enjoyed a late-morning skin up Tiehack, where the snow was marginal but it felt great anyway to break a sweat on skis. I also raised an early season blister on my right heel, which I see as an annual rite of passage, along with at least one blackened toenail. Ugly feet, of course, are a sure sign of an enthusiastic skier.
Sunday I took three kids up to Aspen Mountain. I knew we’d be carving on man-made hardpack, but I’m happy to report that it skied much better than expected. We happened to ride the gondola with Skico CEO Mike Kaplan, who said the company’s snowmaking gurus have been working to improve the quality of the artificial snow this year, and they certainly got something right.
The kids were stoked to be back on skis and, though it was chilly, we made only one stop at the Sundeck, to have lunch. Of course, we saw a bunch of friends up there. We did laps on lifts 3 and 7, and several top-to-bottom runs – one on Copper and two on Spar, which felt a little softer. By the time we quit around 3 p.m., we’d logged more than 15,000 vertical feet, which I thought was OK for a middle-aged dad, an 11-year-old, a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old on their first day of the season.
We experienced no crashes, and nobody lost a ski. The only whining involved some understandably cold fingers on the last run of the day. And those were completely forgotten when we saw the free hot cider in the Gondola Plaza.
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Now the weather experts are calling for up to 2 feet by Wednesday. Bring it on!