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Spoiled Aspenite

Janet Urquhart

A friend of mine who skis Vail regularly, presumably because he lives there, recently accused me and others of my ilk – Aspenites, that is – of being spoiled.He was talking about lift lines, and I chalked his remarks up to the rantings of jealousy, intermingled with the effects of I-70 exhaust fumes.As it turns out, though, he’s right.I headed over to Copper Mountain last weekend to meet friends from Denver. Chairlift conversations – “So, where are you from?” – repeatedly garnered me quizzical looks from strangers who couldn’t fathom why an Aspen resident would drive two hours to ski at Copper. It wasn’t long before I was wondering the same thing.I arrived at 9 a.m. and got quickly on the Super Bee six-pack, with virtually no wait. Copper had received copious amounts of snow on Friday, and there was plenty left over on Saturday morning.But here’s the thing: While my Denver friends whooped about the conditions, I was inwardly surprised to find the snow so heavy. It wasn’t the fluff I’m used to. It was a lot more work to ski it, and I uttered “cement” beneath my breath.Then, one skier in our group developed nasty cramps in her feet on our first run. I followed her to the bottom of the Super Bee, where she took off her boots and tried to iron out the muscular kinks. By the time we were ready to get back on the lift, the lift line stretched toward Vail. I’d never seen anything like it.It was the total reverse of Aspen, when you’d find the biggest line first thing in the morning and expect to walk right up to the lift by 10:30 or 11 a.m. I knew where the line originated, though. We’d stopped on the mountain to gaze at the endless line of vehicles snaking up Interstate 70 toward the Copper exit. They inched toward parking lots that looked full already. I have no idea where they all went.For the rest of the day, we proceeded to stand in lift lines, the likes of which I’ve rarely encountered around here.I only got to a fraction of the terrain at Copper, and it was impressive and fun, except for that heavy snow.Avalanche reportThe backcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is considerable above treeline, especially in wind-affected areas. Near treeline the danger is moderate with pockets of considerable in wind-affected areas. Below treeline the danger is moderate.Strong winds have created some different wind-loading patterns and moved snow low into start zones, even affecting open areas well below treeline.Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, call the Colorado Avalanche Information Center at 920-1664 or visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.


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