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The bike can wait

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Days like Saturday will spell the end of my ski season.

Even as a friend and I strapped on our touring skis for an outing on the backside of Sunlight Mountain Resort, outside of Glenwood Springs, I was thinking about how I should have been pumping up my bike tires instead of spreading sticky, red wax on my skis.

As it turned out, the wax was both messy and worthless, and I was cursing beneath my gasping breath as we alternately herringboned and slipped backward, struggling our way up the trail that climbs into the trees from the ski area parking lot. We finally took our skis back off, scraped off the wax as best we could, and affixed climbing skins. Much better.



Sunlight periodically rolls the wide trails, but the trampled corduroy was hard as concrete when we set out. The snow glistened on the snow like the sweat on my brow as we marched upward.

The conditions improved as we gained elevation and the day warmed. The trails wind through mostly old-growth aspen, allowing plenty of sunlight, and the shadows of the trunks painted the unbroken snow with random beauty. We had the place virtually to ourselves.




The trails there aren’t well marked, and the map I picked up at Sunlight last year isn’t terribly helpful, but I’m given to understand one can climb to the top of the ski area through the woods and then ski down a run and back to one’s car. At any rate, anyone with a so-so sense of direction should be able to find their car again, even if they stick to the trails in the woods.

We didn’t make it to the top, but we definitely climbed. It wasn’t as steep as, say, Buttermilk ” but it was enough to work off the prior night’s gastronomic excesses. And, it was a lot prettier than skinning up a run at Buttermilk.

After nearly two hours, we yanked off the skins and flew down the twisting ribbon of softening snow. Two hours up; 30 minutes down.

The bike can wait.

Snowmass picked up 9 inches of new snow over the past 24 hours, according to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Sunday morniing report. Eight inches fell at Aspen Highlands, while Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk got 7 inches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report for Sunday, March 2:

The avalanche danger in the Aspen zone is moderate on all aspects and elevations. Expect the new snow to form some shallow, sensitive slabs on steep slopes. There will be pockets of considerable danger on steep, east, southeast, and south aspects near and above treeline, where more than 2 feet of new snow drifts.

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

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