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Spoiled rotten

Jon Maletz

Denver prepares for its biggest snowstorm in years. A low-lying gray cloud and low-pressure system loom above the city and surrounding areas. Checkout lines at grocery stores extend into the aisles. Snowplows are primed and ready. Meteorologists say the foothills could have as much as 2 feet of accumulation. I’m usually skeptical of forecasters, but when someone mentions the word “feet” to describe oncoming snowfall snow, my ears perk up. A co-worker informs me the National Weather Service is issuing a winter storm warning starting during the afternoon. The thought of yet another powder day puts a smile on my face. There’s only one problem: I won’t be shoveling my car out this morning – I’ll be dusting off an inch. I guess someone doesn’t understand Doppler radar. An inch? Is that all? Schools are closed because of snow today in Lincoln, Neb., yet I’ll have at less than an inch on my windshield? What is the world coming to? And what do you do with snow in Nebraska, anyway?This season – my first in Aspen – has spoiled me. I grew up skiing on ice and even the occasional dirt patch, and now I scoff when I roll out of bed and there’s no fresh. I used to joke that this town was full of snobs – now I’m one of them, minus the one-piece sequined ski suit. The Skico says the valley has had 25 feet of snow this season, and the base at the top of each mountain is nearing triple digits in inches. Every indication tells me locals will talk about this season for decades. I’m well aware of the fact that I’m being unreasonable and a bit greedy, but I can’t help it.I know crews are planning to collect the snow that line’s Denver’s streets, perhaps collect it in dump trucks like they do in New York, and haul it off to be melted. All that snow – soft, light and glorious – is going to waste. Such a thought brings a tear to my eye.Snow reportAspen Highlands and Snowmass are both reporting 7 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s 5:22 a.m. report. Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk are both sporting 3 inches of fresh stuff.Avalanche reportBackcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate at and above treeline, and considerable on steep and wind-loaded slopes. Below treeline, avalanche danger is moderate.Be aware as you gain or drop elevation in the backcountry, your focus for instability within the snowpack may also change. Watch for windslab on slopes steeper than 30 degrees above treeline, and in open pockets below treeline on E-N-NW aspects. At all elevations be sure to check the bond between the old snow and the snow weve received over the past week. On slopes where old crusts have been buried there may be instability somewhat deeper in the snowpack. Make sure you dig deep enough to expose these layers.


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