Seeing the light | AspenTimes.com
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Seeing the light

Nate Peterson

Went to Sunlight on Wednesday with no expectations. After two and half hours of blasting through untracked powder in the trees, I’m now a believer. I think the friend I went with is one, too.Laugh all you want. Laugh because we drove 45 minutes downvalley on a powder day instead of taking the seven-minute walk to the gondola. Laugh because Sunlight has only three chairlifts, each slow enough to give the impression that it’s hooked up to a car battery.Really, there are no hard feelings. I was laughing, too, when we finally arrived at the base of the mountain in the middle of a whiteout. Laughed more on that first slow chairlift ride while watching beginner after beginner face-plant into the side of the hill. “Are we in some kind of Warren Miller blooper segment?” my friend remarked while chuckling.But there was nothing to laugh about on that first run through the glades that cover the skier’s right side. Nor the second, third fourth or fifth. It was as if we had the whole place to ourselves. That may be a cliché thing to say, but it’s really the first time I’ve ever felt that way.I saw only one skier floating through the soft new snow in the trees like us. And, as if that weren’t enough, the ceiling of gray clouds that had socked in the valley all morning scattered in the afternoon, leaving only sun and blue sky overhead.”This place would get old pretty quick if you had to ski here every day,” my friend said on our final chairlift ride up the mountain, bringing me back to reality.I had to agree. Sunlight will never be easy to confuse with Snowmass. But then again, that’s why it was so much fun for one powder day in a season full of them.And that’s why I’ll be back next year.Snow reportAspen Highlands picked up another 5 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s 4 a.m. snow report. Aspen Mountain and Snowmass both reported 4 inches of fresh stuff, which fell during the day Wednesday, and Buttermilk picked up 3 inches.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate with pockets of considerable on wind-loaded slopes near and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is moderate.Although the last storm ended on Monday, winds continued to load snow onto easterly aspects and add to the avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are possible, and human-triggered ones are probable on any E-NE-NW slope near and above treeline that has been wind-loaded in the last week. Also keep an eye out for some fast running sloughs on steeper terrain below treeline.Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, 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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