The western winds |

The western winds

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

And still the reports are coming in that while it is slushy at the bottom of the mountain, there is still winter skiing to be had at the top.

Sounds ideal, with something for everyone. And there is still tons of terrain to be had. Snowmass, Ajax and Buttermilk are still 100 percent open, and Highlands is 99 percent open. Snowmass has an 87-inch base, Highlands has a 71-inch base, and Ajax has a 61-inch base.

There is a bit of a windstorm expected today. The forecast is for “very windy” conditions with mostly cloudy skies and a slight chance of snow in the afternoon.

The wind should be out of the southwest and varying from 35 to 55 mph with gusts up to 75 mph, which is strong enough to stop the operation of the gondola on Ajax and lifts like the Big Burn, should it actually get that windy.

And it should stay windy overnight, with wind speeds between 25 and 45 mph.

Thursday should also be windy and cooler with a 60 percent chance of snow. Highs are to be in the mid-20s to upper 30s, which are distinctly winterlike temps. (Hope you got out Monday and Tuesday … )

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center notes that “the strong winds may blow some red dust from the southwest deserts into the south and central mountains on Wednesday. This layer may lead to weakness when new snow falls on Thursday.”

It may also prompt several locals to take the sandy invitation and get in the truck and head west to the desert. But they might want to keep their boards in the car, as the skiing in Utah is still fine.

Alta, which closes on April 27, is sporting a 95-inch base. And Snowbird, which closes May 4 (!), also has a 95-inch base. And as Snowbird notes on its Web site, there may be more skiing after that: “At that point, we will proceed with our spring ski season as long as snow conditions allow, which generally includes one week and several weekends of limited spring skiing.” Hot dog.

In terms of resort closures, joining Buttermilk and Highlands in shutting down on April 6 are Crested Butte, Durango, Monarch, Sunlight, Telluride and Wolf Creek. Snowmass closes April 13, and Ajax closes April 20.

And this just in from the torrid world of ski racing. According to Agence France Presse, “Croatia’s world champion skier Ivica Kostelic and his girlfriend, American racer Caroline Lalive, who is recovering in Croatia from injuries, have gone their separate ways, they said Tuesday.”

Gee, and we didn’t even know they were dating.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is]

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