Slope prowess | AspenTimes.com

Slope prowess

Jon Maletz

Aspen, CO ColoradoLife is full of humbling moments.The best moment ever? A friend of mine finally gathered up the courage a few months back to ask a waitress at a local bar to have a drink with us. She immediately responded, “Thanks, but I get my drinks for free here.” It was the highlight of my year.I may have one-upped him Sunday at Highlands. I spent much of the morning feeling out my new skis on gentle midmountain slopes. Later, I decided it was a good idea to venture off the safety and security of the corduroy.It wasn’t. I encountered low light and hard, rigid snow on the face of Boomerang. The experience was similar to riding a 1975 Buick with no suspension down the Crater Lake trail. When you’re lying on the snow with your skis pointing uphill and your head pointing in the direction of the Grand Traverse, it’s a good indication something’s gone wrong. If ski patrol witnessed my exploits, they would’ve advised me to stay on flat ground – or given me an orange bib to alert all those in close proximity. Caution, dreadful skier approaching. All self-confidence quickly dissipated. I leaned too far forward and was too hesitant on my turns. On a couple of occasions I was able to use a pole to keep myself upright. More often than not, however, I was sliding, using my back as a rudderless sled. I’m still digging snow out of my long underwear.Things got worse. I fell on the trail’s steep final pitch and struggled to right myself. My legs flailed as I raised my skis over my head, then tried to turn my body perpendicular to the slope. I thought I was all alone, but as I leaned on my poles and stood up to dust the snow off, a crowd of five had gathered at the top of the hill. There was nowhere to hide. Why did I have to wear black today? I couldn’t hear them, but I knew what they were thinking. “Great. There’s no more snow left for us.” “This could be a while.” “Someone should give that guy an orange bib.”I felt compelled to wave. But, after a few more falls and a brilliant display of skiing prowess, I ducked behind a group of pines.Avalanche report Avalanche danger is moderate at all elevations, with pockets of considerable on N-E-SE aspects above treeline. Recent west and northwest winds will have transported new snow onto these aspects. These wind slabs will be resting on weak surface hoar and faceted snow below them, creating some tender and easy-to-trigger slabs for the next couple of days. With more snow in the forecast for the next two days, small natural avalanches could become possible. For more info, visit http://www.rfavalanche.org or geosurvey. state. co. us/ avalanche.

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