Paul E. Anna: High Points
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Who knew when the Aspen Skiing Co. announced that the 2010-11 season would be the longest ever for our local mountains that this is what they meant.
Sure they only planned to run the lifts on Highlands until the April 27 closing day, but someone forgot to turn the snow off. Me, I blame Jeff Hanle. And knowing Jeff, it wasn’t forgetfulness at all; he just has a mischievous streak and wanted to keep folks on the mountains into June.
Unprecedented is the only way to describe what has been going on here this spring. More than 70 inches, the height of an average man in America, has dropped on our mountains since the beginning of April. For those skiers who were looking to join the 100-day club but were, say 20 days short, the snows of May have given them the chance for bonus days that count in the final analysis.
Two Saturdays ago, following one of the biggest spring dumps I have seen in the 15 or so seasons that I have in been in these here hills, the tracks down the face of Aspen Mountain were so prevalent that someone sitting next to me in town asked if the lifts were open. No they weren’t. The tracks were the residue of skiers who were either earning their turns by making the climb or simply caught a ride on a jet ski, er wrong season, a ski-doo up the hill.
Now, two weeks later, we have even more snow than we did then and, while the sun will shine today (it should be gorgeous, especially if you are a fan of the color green) and while there is nary a hint of more snow in the seven day forecast, don’t be surprised if the snow gods send another round of snow our way before the end of the month.
For those who are loving this extended season and taking advantage of the extra days, “good on you” as the Aussies say. But also, let’s be careful out there. So much snow so late, with the customary freeze thaw cycles and the instability lead invariably to unstable snow conditions. The wise and caring folks at the CAIC (Colorado Avalanche Information Center) are rightfully concerned that this late season-surge could and will lead to many avalanches. The key is staying out of their paths. It would be a shame to miss summer because you set out an hour late, or didn’t dig a pit, or simply decided “it’ll be fine.”
As I said, be careful out there.
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It’s that time again and as I’m riding through the mountains, either moving cattle or packing salt for them, I wonder if the old-timers really ever knew how great they had it. I mean, it…