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Serial intermediate

Jon Maletz

I have a few things to take care of before a group of friends from back East make their first-ever skiing pilgrimage to Colorado in little more than a week.I’ll stock more than just the lettuce, spaghetti sauce, three slices of bacon and milk (I prefer not to mention the expiration date), which currently occupies the space in my fridge. I’ll vaccuum for the first time in a few weeks – or months, I can’t remember which – because someone will undoubtledly be crashing on the floor. I’ll wash the dishes, or buy some paper plates.Oh yeah, I figure I should learn to ski, too. Over the past few months, I’ve been given a few not-so-subtle reminders that I, despite many tireless days on the hill, remain a serial intermediate.Following a four-hour excursion in the trees and powder off Tiehack, I rode the bus back to town with a friend from work. He broke the silence. “You should take a lesson, man,” he said. He repeated himself. Those six-word phrases must be popular. Upon spending a day with me on the slopes, another co-worker remarked that I was, “better than I thought you’d be.” These are the same two guys who keep reminding me that Skico has locals clinics. Thanks for the tip – or the hint. I was embarassed. Me, the awkward 15-year-old who was sweating bullets while struggling to perfect the pizza wedge on crowded New England slopes as little kids effortlessly flew by. I once ran into a 10-year-old standing in line for the race course; I had not yet mastered the art of turning, a essential part of this sport that I overlooked for some time. I once had my skis get lodged into the face of a lift’s unloading hill, and was yanked off of the chair in one violent, yet strangely fluid motion – keep those tips up, kids. And I’m still waiting for the day when I fall down the gondola plaza stairs.Maybe my progression is hardly noticeable and I have little to show for my efforts. I still lean back on my skis and drag my poles. I let my fear of heights get the best of me on steep pitches. I’m as uncomfortable in the bumps as I am giving an oral presentation. I doubt my friends will care much. After all, I’m buying the first round.Snow reportAspen Mountain has picked up another 7 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s 5:30 a.m. report. Buttermilk and Snowmass have 4 inches of new snow and Aspen Highlands picked up 3 inches.Avalanche reportAvalanche danger for the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate, with pockets of considerable for steep and wind-loaded terrain at and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is low, with pockets of moderate for steep terrain. Keep any eye out for wind-loaded areas near and above treeline, as these will be the most likely for triggering avalanches. Sunday nights snow may have formed some shallow soft slabs near ridge lines and there will be plenty of places to find older windslabs that are still tender. 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, visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.


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