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Getting soft

Paul E. Anna
Aspen, CO Colorado

If you live or play in Aspen, you are in danger of spoilage.

I myself feel like an overripe banana, browning around the edges and getting soft, almost gooey soft in the middle.

Why? It’s all of this magnificent snow. It’s making all of us so spoiled that we have begun to believe that powder days with bluebird skies are the only acceptable ski conditions. That unless we have 4 to 6 inches a night with clear bright cold conditions in the morning that it “has gotten a little scratchy,” as I heard one 100-day skier say on the lift last week during our “thaw.”



Say what? A little scratchy? Since the beginning of December I have yet to hear ice under my skis. I haven’t even had to sharpen the edges, much less use them other than a quick hit at the top of Roberto’s last week after the sun had melted the top a bit before it refroze.

This week, on Wednesday, following another 6-inch snowfall, the Skico website listed Snowmass with a 100-inch base. That’s more than 8 feet, people! Rocks and trees that have littered the Ladders, made the Dikes treacherous, or scratched up ski bottoms in Garret’s are a full pole length beneath the snows of December.




These snow depths (Highlands is clocking in at 116 inches as of Thursday) sound like Utah or the Sierras. They are simply unheard of around here. And it’s not just the amount of snow; it’s the quality of it. Never in my 15 seasons have we had such consistently great conditions. Day in and day out, even if it hasn’t snowed, the skiing is still great.

All of this perfection is beginning to turn us a little soft. There has been some grumbling from locals about how “it has been the coldest winter that I remember” or “until last week we hadn’t seen the sun since November.” Yeah, I remember November. Specifically the Friday after Thanksgiving when I rode a thin ribbon of snow down to Lift 3 on Aspen Mountain before riding the Gondola back down to town. It was then I thought for sure that we were in for it bad.

Some of us have even put off clicking on skis on days that any other season we would kill for, because it has been partly cloudy or had highs expected in the low to mid 20s. Judging from the lack of lines at Snowmass this week (can you believe fresh tracks at 2 p.m. on Monday?), more than a few of us are simply not taking advantage of the bounty.

When you think about it, we may never have a season like this again in our lifetimes. With all the talk of global warming and the bleak future we face, it is possible that this may be the beginning of the end. And if it is, don’t you want to be out there?

With 30 inches in the last seven days and more on the way, let’s all vow to make March the best month of skiing we have ever had. The clocks leap ahead Sunday, and it sounds like the Skico will be extending hours, so late afternoons can be playtime.

Get soft this season. You deserve it.