To know a Vail
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL ” Aspen has ruined me.
I can’t ski anywhere else.
Certainly the East Coast ice sheets where I learned to ski will never look the same, but even nearby Vail just doesn’t stack up anymore ” at least that’s what I found while visiting family on vacation there over the New Year’s holiday.
I learned to love skiing on spring break trips to Vail during college, and Monday was my first time there in more than 10 years.
There’s no denying that Vail terrain is tops: The Back Bowls are like a lift-accessible Highland Bowl spread out over acres and acres, and Highline, now accessible by high-speed quad, is a mogul-skiers dream.
Despite near-whiteout conditions and bitter cold on New Year’s Eve day, my sister and I hit Blue Sky Basin for some incredible tree skiing and fresh tracks in wind-blown pow. And a day at Beaver Creek with my nephews will rank high in my Rolodex of memories (more because of the company than anything).
But the liftlines and catwalks crowded like Denver off-ramps at rush hour was enough to make me take up nordic skiing.
Even during the busy Christmas week at Aspen and Snowmass, I didn’t wait more than a few minutes to get on any lift. And in Aspen, there’s just something comforting about walking off the hill into a town that at least looks like a town and not just stacked square footage.
It might be a bit like comparing Disneyland and Disney World, but I’ll take Aspen any day.
The Aspen Skiing Co. reported no new snow on local slopes in its Thursday morning report.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center report on Thursday: The avalanche danger for the Aspen zone is considerable on all aspects near and above treeline. Natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered ones probable at these elevations. Steep slopes with fresh wind slabs should be avoided at this time.
Below treeline in open or exposed areas, expect to find pockets of considerable danger on slopes 35 degrees and steeper that have seen recent wind drifting. In all other areas below treeline, danger is moderate.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.