Ski the gantlet | AspenTimes.com
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Ski the gantlet

Jon Maletz

I spent close to four hours reveling in powder on Thursday. While my form was far from Olympic quality, I had a successful day with very few miscues and no falls; that slight bobble on Tiehack doesn’t count. I chalk it up to an equipment malfunction. Excluding a slight miscalculation on opening day (my thumbs have healed nicely), I have been lucky to avoid any slope carnage. I somehow stay on my skis an overwhelming percentage of the time, despite weaving through trees or taking on trails that are out of my league.Funny, I think the hardest part of this sport is successfully making it from my front door to the lift. It’s a veritable obstacle course out there. And it’s for experts only.My toughest test every morning isn’t a black diamond, it’s a flight of stairs – a steep, narrow, wobbly, flight of stairs. With ski boots securely fastened, I negotiate each step with both hands firmly wrapped around the railing. Sir Edmund Hillary made climbing Everest look more graceful.Then comes the always-entertaining struggle to cross the street during early-morning traffic carrying my skis, poles and a bagel. You’d think people would slow down, but no. When the slightest window opens, I make a run for it, stopping only briefly to dodge oncoming SUVs and delivery trucks. It’s my version of the Inferno. Then comes the black ice-laden sidewalks and the people who push past me to the front of the bus line, with skis flailing about like two-by-fours. I guess they really like those spacious front seats. I laugh under my breath when the bus doesn’t pull up to the sign and my skis are the first on the rack. Justice. A few ginger steps up and down the slick bus stairs and the harrowing trip is almost over. There’s one last obstacle: the people who pull a little too hard to dislodge their skis from the red plastic ski racks. Stand too close, and you could lose an eye.Moguls and trees won’t be a problem. I’m worried about burning my tongue on that aprs-ski cup of hot chocolate.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is considerable near and above treeline. Below treeline the danger is moderate. Use caution on any steep, wind-loaded slope at any elevation. Be especially wary lower in alpine paths, near treeline, and in open areas below treeline that have been affected by recent winds.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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