Skiers, boarders revel in seldom-seen powder
February 21, 2002
One of Aspen’s skiing monarchs, Klaus Obermeyer, declared yesterday’s conditions “the nicest snowfall of the season.”
And if anyone ought to know, it’s Obermeyer. He skis every day he can, which is just about every day.
On Aspen Mountain, skiers were raving about how the snow was both light and deep. “That’s really, really nice,” said one skier to his partner at about 1:15 p.m. midway down the Shoulder of Bell.
As they set out to make the Highland Bowl safe for the public, the ski patrol at Aspen Highlands briefly considered raising the Epic Flag.
“We thought about running the Epic Flag up this morning,” said Mac Smith, the patrol director at Highlands.
The Epic Flag is the ski patrol’s signal to anyone who is paying attention that there is some great skiing to be had. It only went up a few times last year, and it has yet to be raised a single time this year.
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“It basically says that if you don’t like your job, you should quit and go skiing,” Smith said.
That’s a lot of hoopla for about five or six inches of snow, even though the patrollers working at Highlands ultimately decided not to raise the flag. “I guess everything is relative,” Smith added.
The snow was knee deep in a few chutes down the bowl on Highlands, and in selective spots around Aspen Mountain, including Roch’s Run, the Shoulder and Face of Bell and the dumps off International.
“By noon we had six inches on top, from noon yesterday,” said Natasha Cole, an employee at the Snowmass Ski Area. The area reported three inches of new at midmountain in the same 24-hour period. Cole added that the snow continued to fall lightly throughout the afternoon.
About half the snow fell this morning, after the lifts had already opened, said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. He said all four areas were reporting between five and six inches over the 24-hour period that ended at noon yesterday.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for this area through tonight, with accumulations of five to 10 inches below 9,000 feet. Northwest winds are expected to range between 20 and 40 mph, creating accumulations of 10 to 15 inches on west- and northwest-facing slopes.
Hanle said the Skico’s forecasting system is predicting another two inches of snow tonight. And another major storm is expected to reach this area on Sunday.
“That one looks pretty good,” Hanle said.