I turned 100 today.It was a lot like turning 74, 51, 35 and 3.I was wearing my work pants (jeans) under my black ski pants. I had on a dark (black) turtleneck (“Old school is the new new school,” as they say) and a black vest. I looked a lot like Johnny Cash all dressed in black. My theme song: “I Ski The Line.”(Insert Mayor Helen Klanderud joke here.) So I rode the gondola up at lunchtime with my friend Roger, and we skied the Face of Bell down to Lift 6, flew down Ruthie’s Run to Lift 8, then caught International to Perry’s Prowl to Spar Gulch to Slalom Hill to the bottom. Then back to work. It took about an hour.It was my 100th day of skiing this winter.The big party at Aspen Highlands Sunday (I was there for my 99th day) meant that Aspen Mountain still had large sheets of uncut powder. That’s good news for much of the season, but bad news this time of year.Dust set solid by variable spring temps atop frozen crust was the name of the game on the Face. Roger ripped it up. I wiped out. Ruthie’s was in great shape. So was International and Perry’s, which was soft to the turn. Slalom Hill was a lot less dust and even more frozen crust. Our ride up the gondola wasn’t especially fast. It stopped once for an extended stretch, which left us hanging over Copper Bowl. We fretted for a minute or two, worried about the limited time we two working stiffs had to ski. Then we got over it once we figured out that the delay was probably a few disabled veterans loading for the ride up. Welcome to you guys and gals who are facing challenges most of us cannot fathom. Hopefully, you all will get a few runs in too. It’ll be good to share the mountain with you.Avalanche reportBackcountry avalanche danger in the Roaring Fork Valley is moderate at and above treeline with pockets of considerable for N-E-SE aspects. Below treeline, avalanche danger is moderate but increasing with rising temperatures. With warm temperatures in the forecast, avalanche danger will rise today on steeper sunny aspects and at lower elevations where the snow has remained wet for a couple of days. Plan your day to be off steeper terrain before things get too wet. Up high, look out for some instabilities in the new snow from Monday to remain, especially on shadier northerly aspects.Avalanche danger details provided by the Roaring Fork Avalanche Center. For more information, call 920-1664 or visit http://www.rfavalanche.org. For conditions around the state, visit geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the descent that poses a challenge.