Slicing strudel

Allyn Harvey

Well, that sucked.Opening day Saturday at Aspen Highlands revealed all the pitfalls of first-day-of-the-season skiing and that mountain.Highlands, perpetually understaffed and underfunded by the Aspen Skiing Co., wasn’t really ready to roll, at least not the way Skico management rolled it out.Snyder’s Ridge, for instance, was a minefield of sharp, ski-eating rocks. Anyone who took one or two turns too many was forced to take their board(s) off and hoof it up and across to either Kessler’s Bowl or Sodbuster. (Kessler’s stunk too, but Sodbuster was in decent, albeit rapidly deteriorating shape.)The nonsteeps at Highlands were in fine shape. But then again, the nonsteeps at Buttermilk were too. Buttermilk equals Highlands. Highlands equals Buttermilk. Power of Four? More like the Power of 2.5.So after a few hours of talking around the truth with strangers on the lift about the conditions at Highlands – nodding and saying things like, “Apple Strudel sure is skiing great!” – a few wise souls jumped the next bus into town and rode the gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain.Da-daah! Ajax was skiing beautifully. Pick a line, any line, and the snow was righteous and the bumps were kind. The soft, supple snow shushed off the top of the fat, round moguls on the Face. Your ski pole suck half way down through the semipacked powder on Roch. And, go figure, the mix of manmade and real snow in Spar Gulch was skiing both grippy and fast. Yee haa!So if you didn’t make it up this weekend, better get out today, because the snow ain’t gonna last that long. The National Weather Service has no snow in the forecast until the middle of the week, and then only a tepid-sounding “chance of snow” for Wednesday and Thursday.