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Ski in the new year

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

What better way to start the new year than with a fresh layer of snow? Especially when most of the skiing population will want nothing to do this morning with either 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m.

Yes, fresh snow and lots of local hangovers. Why, it could be a perfect setup for diligent powder hounds. And what better way to cure that throbbing head than to march up the ridge to 12,382 feet?

The forecast was calling for 4 to 7 inches overnight (and we certainly hope it happened), with west/northwest winds of 15 to 25 mph.

And today was forecast as to be windy, cloudy and cold, the perfect day for non-serious skiers to stay inside on the couch floating through a sea of bowl games.

There is a chance of snow today with northwest winds between 20 and 30 mph and high temps between 12 and 25.

Thursday is to be partly cloudy and a bit warmer, with highs between 25 and 35. On Friday and Saturday, there is to be a slight chance of snow, and Monday and Tuesday will be partly cloudy.

Conditions on the mountain Tuesday were gray and cold for the most part, with just a teasing of snow throughout the day. But, hey, at least it was snowing.

The backcountry avalanche danger for the central mountains is now rated moderate, although the snowpack remains complex. If you’re interested in learning more, you might be interested to know about two avalanche education courses coming up next week.

Mountain Rescue Aspen is holding an avalanche awareness workshop on Jan. 10-11 to go over topics such as avalanche hazard evaluation, snow-pit analysis, probe-line methods, use of avalanche beacons, route selection and safe travel techniques.

The course includes a mandatory Friday classroom session from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and then a Saturday session in the field on top of Aspen Mountain.

The price for the course is $25, and backcountry travelers, skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers are encouraged to attend. For more information, check out mountainrescueaspen.org.

Aspen Expeditions is also holding a Level I avalanche education class from Jan. 10-12.

This course, which includes one evening of class time and two field days, is designed to focus less on providing “answers” and more on identifying the right questions in the backcountry. It will also likely include a fair bit of backcountry skiing as well as digging snow pits and the like. The cost is $195, and more info is available online at aspenexpeditions.com.

Check it out.

And welcome to 2003, the Chinese year of the Sheep (starting Feb. 1).


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