Winter’s return

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

After a late night in the hot tub until 2 a.m. Wednesday night as the snow fell, I set my alarm early for the possible pow day. It’s been so damn crusty and mushy and crappy on the mountain that a powder day kept my eyes open in bed at least half an hour later.A friend in town for the week, Laura, woke up at 8 a.m. and figured she would wake me up. But after pounding on my door, then throwing it open, she found an empty bed.I was already in town drinking a latte and drooling over the snow report of seven new inches at Highlands. The coffee kicked in, and I ran to the bus stop with a call on the way asking her to call me when she got to the mountain. The failed wake-up attempt had slowed her down, and I got a top-to-bottom in on Highlands before she showed up. The powder, even 7 inches, was powder enough though my skis were regularly scraping through to the hard stuff underneath. Regardless, it felt great, and the powder day energy was growing. Peculiarly, the rest of Aspen didn’t really show up. There was no line for the first lift and hardly any people on the mountain the entire morning. Perhaps they were waiting for Friday, perhaps they were waiting for next year.We were happy to have the place to ourselves and luckily noticed Highlands Bowl was open right around 10:30 a.m. We had already knocked off a few cruisers and two runs down Deep Temerity, so my knees were a little wobbly, and Laura, who came here from sea level, was huffing and puffing on the way up. But the Bowl doesn’t disappoint on a powder day, ever. The days of 60 degree weather and road bikes seemed about a thousand miles away, standing at the top of the Bowl with snow coming down. We hit G-5, untracked. The snow was deeper, had bonded better and the lower layer was softer. Laura and I busted the turns on the steeps with monster grins. Out and across the Bowl, I could hear the howls and yells of the few other lucky souls who know it’s still winter enough to have a solid powder day.


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