Wrestling the snow snake
Dear Editor:Having skied in the Aspen area for five years, and loved every minute of it, I had an unusual experience last week. Numerous times, more than I would like to admit, I have fallen and scattered my gear all over the slope. More than once, the snow snake was to blame, but I had never seen one.While skiing on the Naked Lady run and following a friend, I saw this white head appear suddenly through the packed powder. Its jaws opened in a flash and grabbed the side of my friend’s right ski; stopping it immediately. The skier launched into the air shedding skis, poles and helmet.Before the head could retract into the hole from which it protruded, I reached down and clutched it around the throat, just under the head, thinking it would slide from its hole. To my amazement, it gave no ground. I was jerked from my skis, almost dislocating my shoulder. But my grip held.As I rolled over, I was face to face with a snow snake – a rather angry reptile. While his head was but two inches high and about three inches long with two coal-black eyes, the mouth ratcheted open like channel-lock pliers lined with sharp pearly white teeth, perfect for attaching to the edge of a ski.In an instant I recognized it as the head of a Tyrannosaurus, and I knew I was in trouble. Thinking I could rip the snake from his hole proved impossible as it had inflated itself to where it was immovable.The mouth opened and spit a green liquid towards my eyes, fortunately intercepted by my goggles which started to melt. Terrified, I was afraid to release my grip on the snake for fear that it would rip into me with those sharp teeth, but I desperately wanted to flee.As my goggles distorted my vision, a long black tongue erupted from deep in the throat of the snake and danced across my face leaving holes as if I had been attacked with an ice pick. Defeated, I released my grip on the snake and rolled over expecting to be devoured. To my delight, the snake retreated into its hole.I looked around to see who else had seen the battle, but I was alone.Snow snakes are out there, just don’t try to grab them.Peter DavisSnowmass Village
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