Phantom storm clears the crud
Nothing like a few inches of fresh to take the clunk out of the junk.A scratchy Saturday on Aspen Mountain gave way to a surprisingly soft Sunday with an overnight storm that came, seemingly, from out of nowhere.And the junk – crudded up tracts of Bell Mountain, for instance – transformed grabby, clunky slopes overnight into smooth-riding and swoopable playgrounds. Still, twigs and treetops are peeking through in many places, a reminder that early season conditions exist and that immovable objects (read: rocks and stumps) are well within striking distance.(One regular “On the Hill” correspondent will be wearing an Aspen Valley Hospital-variety boot for the next six weeks, instead of his normal tele boots, owing to a bone-breaking crash Thursday in some clunky crud on said Bell Mountain.)Snowmass has a base depth of 35 inches up top, while Ajax is reporting 25 near the Sundeck.One local skier reported “immaculate” skiing – “and no rocks” – on the Big Burn at Snowmass on Saturday. “We skied right onto the lift,” the skier noted. “And probably because they had just opened Alpine Springs and High Alpine. I was with my daughter …”The new FIS lift on Ajax made its debut Saturday and, as the Dumps and the Ruthie’s side remained closed for the weekend, the first passengers made quick work of tracking up the FIS trail and other snatches of untrammeled pow made available to them.Looking to the future, the National Weather Service was calling for another inch of snow last night – raising the possibility of another phantom powder delivery – another 1 to 3 inches today, and another inch tonight. The next chance of snow, according to the NWS, is forecast for Tuesday night.Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk are slated to open for the season on Saturday.