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This party’s out

Tim Mutrie

At least one party skied Maroon Bowl in the Highlands backcountry Tuesday, the same day another group made a trip up Hayden Peak, a local classic in the high wilds above Castle Creek.Yesterday, it was Big Mama, a far, far out bowl, past Highland Peak on the ridge, funneling into the Maroon Creek Valley.As the avalanche danger rating for the Aspen area drops and the snowpack stabilizes, skiers and split-boarders are heading out.Forecasting for today, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said the backcountry danger in the south and central mountains “should increase slightly to an overall moderate at all elevations and aspects.”The CAIC was also calling for snow last night, today and into Friday.After a tour in Big Mama, Amos Whiting, head guide of Aspen Expeditions, said there are trigger points out there.”In general right now we’re in a decent place. We’ve got a lot of bridging in the midpack, but if you hit a shallow spot or a trigger point, it could go really big. Big slab. So it’s terrain selection,” Whiting said.As for the forecast snow, “It depends on how much we get. The next big snow and it’ll change it all,” he said.”It’s hard to find good snow because a lot has already slid, a lot has been sun baked, and easterly stuff has a thin zippery crust. So really north or south is where it’s at. Powder in the north and corn in the south – when it’s sunny,” Whiting said. “Of course, that’s as of [Wednesday].””My spookier snow [Wednesday] was well below tree line, 9,000 feet or so, some weird shallow snow with facets and whoompfs.”


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