Spending a day on the ‘Couch’
There was no remote control, no bag of chips. But after waking early and heading to Aspen Mountain, I soon found myself back on the “Couch.”The Gentleman’s Ridge lift wasn’t quite like my new futon. There was no cushioning here, no microfiber-covered mattress. (I’m certain many people would pay the extra buck or two to have those installed). Instead, there were cold, unforgiving, vinyl-covered benches. The lift operators were courteous enough to scrape off caked ice and snow from the previous night’s storm before I took a seat. That was a good thing. It didn’t take long to realize how this lift got its nickname – I was going to be here a while.I braced myself for an Ajax Express-like acceleration but took off at the same pace as a two-decade-old pickup truck; a broken-down one that was being pushed from the tailgate.A friend of mine said he has seen people reading a book on their way up. After a day of riding this lift, I am convinced I could make a sizable dent in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” I passed the time averting the harsh wind by burying my face inside the collar of my jacket. I watched skiers make fresh lines down Northstar and Seibert’s. I plotted my next line. The next five lines after that.I wondered if the deep powder would still be there when I had my chance to make some turns. I wondered how I managed to forget to put on my long johns earlier in the morning. I must have been in a hurry. It was a good thing I wasn’t anymore.I spotted a friend under the lift who had stopped to take a breather and decided to wait for him at the top of the lift. I could’ve knitted a scarf, eaten lunch, maybe even walked home to get my long underwear while I waited. The lift’s reputation preceded it, as much of the large crowds stayed away. I didn’t mind. I had the powder to myself. The long ride heightened the anticipation. No television channel could have as good a view.Being a couch potato never felt so good.Avalanche reportThere were no new avalanches reported Monday, but the next major storm could put us in an avalanche cycle. In the Aspen zone, avalanche danger near and above treeline is currently considerable with pockets of high on NE-SE aspects and cross-drifted slopes, and moderate elsewhere.
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Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.