Up high, ski turns Passable
Get it while you can.The chutes adjacent to Independence Pass are filling in, and the skiing is getting good.A week ago, the snowpack near the summit of the pass was depressingly thin, and skinning the ridge above Mountain Boy Gulch was like walking a tight rope.But Friday’s storm blasted the terrain along the Continental Divide and wind-favored areas were skiing surprisingly well Sunday morning.At least a foot of new snow left by the storm has filled in the Mountain Boy chutes, and the first dozen turns were smooth, deep and generally rockless. But check your speed, as base-destroying rocks loomed in abundance.Depending on the size of last night’s storm, the buffer zone between rock and ski may be wide enough to push the envelope a little more, and the next few days could be epic by early season standards. But there’s just a week left. Barring a change of plans by the state department of transportation, Independence Pass is scheduled to close Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m.Yesterday morning a few cars sat in the parking lot at the top of the pass, and skin tracks and boot paths could be seen zigzagging their way up the ridge.”It was actually pretty good,” said Steve Ornowski of Aspen, skinning his way out of Mountain Boy Gulch. “Anytime I can get on my skis, it’s a pretty good day.”Powder turns were visible not only in Mountain Boy Gulch but also in Fourth of July Bowl, though lower sections of both areas were thin, rocky and extremely variable.Ornowski, who owns Hamilton Sports in Aspen, and friend Ted Keith, also of Aspen, skinned to the top of the Burn at Snowmass on Saturday.”It was decent, but sketchy,” said Ornowski.”There were a couple of good turns here and there,” Keith added.Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said the top of Snowmass had a 22-inch base after Friday’s storm, the top of Aspen had 18 inches and Highland Bowl was reporting about 2 feet.”Things are shaping up nicely,” Hanle said, adding that Aspen Mountain was scheduled to start making snow last night and that the ritualistic boot-packing of Highland Bowl will probably begin next week.As for yet another snowstorm on Halloween, Hanle said, “It never seems to fail, it really happens every year. I can’t remember a Halloween when it didn’t snow.”While all four resorts are sure to benefit from the latest storm, for the next week the pass is where it’s at.As of Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service was predicting 5 to 10 inches of snow overnight in the Aspen area, with higher amounts possible on the pass. Daily high temperatures will remain in the upper 30s and low 40s, with another shot of snow Wednesday.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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