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Out of context

Jon Maletz

I remember eavesdropping on a conversation among three men Sunday in the gondola.I looked like I was minding my own business, tugging at my glove straps and tapping my ski poles against the window as I looked off into the distance. In reality, however, my ears were perked.The vernacular they shared could have been its own language. For a brief moment I imagined what would happen if such a conversation was taken wholly out of context – if these people were not on Ajax but sharing a pitcher at a bar in Tampa. Odds are their words may have garnered some sort of reaction.One guy asked another “have you hit Kristi’s yet? It’s amazing,” to which the other replied with, “Way out of my league. I’m no expert,” as he chuckled under his breath. In any other setting, the disgust painting my face would be unmistakable. In our little bubble, however, no one gave the remarks a second thought. As we rose over the crest on Ridge of Bell, shrouded in thick, low-lying clouds, one man broke the momentary silence. “You know, I’ve really been struggling with the bumps all day,” he said. “My knees are sore and I can hardly see.” I don’t know about you, but had I not been a skier and found myself sitting next to this gentleman, I would slide down a barstool, maybe even two. Those bumps sound contagious. Only one hour later, as I sat on the Gent’s Ridge lift with a guy who was simultaneously smoking a cigarette and eating a granola bar, I overheard a snowboard instructor below equate an ollie with jumping over a pit of lava. There has to be a more suitable analogy, although I couldn’t conjure one up at the time.It made about as much sense as making turns on corduroy instead of wearing it, skiing on trails that have been skied off, or having cats groom the mountain – don’t worry PETA, they are snowcats.What’s the problem? It doesn’t seem ridiculous to us.Snow reportThe Aspen Skiing Co. is reporting no new snow in the last 24 hours. Aspen Mountain has a 45-inch base on top, Snowmass has 60 inches up top, Aspen Highlands is reporting 80 inches at its summit and Buttermilk has a 37-inch base.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate with pockets of considerable at and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is moderate. Though no avalanches were reported Monday, snow pits in start zones may show some strong snow near the top of the avalanche path that becomes much weaker and easier to trigger as you descend farther down the slope. Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, call the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.


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