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Sobering experience on Aspen Mountain

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Who knew you could have so much fun sober.

I caught a bit a grief this week for writing about my recent snowmobiling trip. Not because I was spewing gasoline fumes into the wilderness, but that I men­tioned I had a some sips of cham­pagne before mounting the sled. It was just a few sips, so relax. And the Bud Light was consumed at night so I can assure you that nothing occurred illegally ” at least on the snowmobile.

But on Friday, I slacked off at work (as my editor described it) and took to the skis once again for yet another epic powder day. You would think that all of these powder days would have blended together by now, but not a chance. Friday will be etched in my mind for … well, until the next powder day.



I got in the gondola line at the usual time of 8:30 a.m. and crossed my fingers that Aspen Mountain would have no operational issues to delay the opening. I guess it worked. We were loading sharply at 9 a.m. Perhaps the fact that Aspen Skiing Co.’s mountain operations manager Rich Burkley and CEO Mike Kaplan were in the gondola building had something to do with it.

Flying solo, it was continuous face shots on Bell, the Dumps, Walsh’s, Silver Queen, FIS, Knowltons, Jackpot and the Glades all morning.




I contemplated heading down at 11 a.m. because my goggles were fogging up. Trying all I could do to get them squared away in the gondola and complaining about it the entire time, longtime local and Matsuhisa bartender Pat Ryan was kind enough to loan me his spare pair. Ryan’s generosity allowed me to stay up another two hours, much to the dismay of my editor.

It’s that kind of gesture that makes me grateful that I live here. Ryan also extended an invitation to all of us in the gondola car to come by Matsuhisa for a drink.

No matter what I do in this town, my sobriety doesn’t last long.

Snowmass picked up 13 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Saturday morning report. Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands received another 7 inches of snow on Friday and Buttermilk added 6 inches.

Over the past 48 hours, Snowmass and Aspen Mountain received 21 inches of new snow, while Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk picked up 14 inches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Saturday, March 15:

The avalanche danger in the Aspen zone is rated at considerable on all aspects near and above treeline today. Pay close attention to slopes facing N-E-S at these higher elevations. Slabs that formed as a result of west winds could be very tender today. Below treeline, avalanche danger is rated moderate. Human-triggered avalanches are still possible here as well.

Travel in the backcountry this weekend will require a good set of avalanche skills to stay safe. Pay close attention to the information the snowpack will give you. A few observations that will help you choose safe terrain include observing recent avalanches and what aspect and elevation they are occurring on, looking and listening for cracking and whumfing in the snowpack, and carefully avoiding steeper slopes that have been loaded by recent wind events. Be safe out there today!

Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/ for the full report and information on conditions statewide.

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