Skiers, boarder greet powder with `whooping and hollering’ |

Skiers, boarder greet powder with `whooping and hollering’

Aspen Times Staff Report

The telltale sounds of a big snowstorm were heard around the upper valley Thursday – the enthusiastic squeals of those who could ski or ride and the sighs of those who couldn’t.

Up to a foot of snow hit the slopes after daybreak Thursday. It was finally Aspen’s turn to cash in on a wet Pacific storm. Many storms have either dodged south or strayed north of Aspen this season, much to the dismay of locals.

But conditions have changed rapidly this week, for the better. Nearly two feet of snow fell on local slopes before Thursday’s dumping.

“Today was the first day I’ve been out there this season that people were really whooping and hollering,” said Aspen Skiing Co. Director of Communications Rose Abello. “You could hear them from the lifts at Aspen Highlands.”

Skiers encountered the same scenario at Aspen Mountain. Only about three inches of fresh snow had fallen overnight, but no sooner had the Silver Queen Gondola fired up for the day when the snowstorm rolled upvalley and hit with a vengeance.

By noon, when some unfortunate souls had to return to work, about six inches had fallen – turning places like the Back of Bell glades, Jackpot and the Dumps into powdery blankets. By the end of the day, the official snowfall account was eight inches there.

Abello’s communications department was tabulating snowfall amounts at all mountains Thursday and preparing to shoot footage of powder skiers and riders Friday morning. That footage will be shipped to national and major market television channels.

Snowmass was finally the big winner in the dump contest. For whatever reason, it has rarely attracted as much snow as the other local ski areas in earlier storms this season. Not so Thursday.

Skico Senior Vice President John Norton received a cell phone report while skiing Aspen Mountain at about 11 a.m. that Snowmass had picked up a foot of snow since 4 a.m. – a rate nearing two inches per hour.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m. last night, the Skico was reporting 8 to 12 inches of new snow on local slopes.

Any way it was counted, it added up to a lot of fresh powder.

Snowmass crews planned to take a Snowcat up on Elk Camp at noon to groom a couple of gentler trails that were too powder-choked for easy skiing.

That’s not a common problem, Norton said, but one he’s more than willing to deal with.

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