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Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

So the old joke goes that people come to Aspen for the winter and the skiing and stay because they fall in love with the summers.

While there is truth to that, no doubt, the vote for “best season of the year” may be heavily weighted toward spring. It is hard to imagine any other week of any other year being more beautiful than the one we just had.

Every morning has burst forth with full sunshine and clear skies over Independence Pass. Every afternoon has warmed to T-shirt (short-sleeve T-shirt) temperatures that have lasted long into the early evening thanks to the time change. And in between, every afternoon has given us bluebird skies and slight breezes that cool and clean the mountain air, giving it an intoxicating clarity.

I’ll give you that we need some snow. March, traditionally our snowiest month, has given us just one dump thus far, and the forecast for more is somewhat less than promising. But that dump last Tuesday ” some said the mountains got as much as 17 inches ” was epic. It was the kind of storm that blows in, snows heavily, stays overnight and then blows out at midday. For those who got pow-pow Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, it was surely a special treat. Since then the snow has morphed into classic spring conditions, the kind we don’t normally see for another couple weeks, but sublime just the same.

Kudos must go to the grooming crews who are buffing out all four mountains every night. Each evening, in some cases long after midnight, you can catch the lights of the snow dancers as they push a little snow here, patch a melting pocket there, and lay down their perfect carpets of corduroy.

The grooved slopes when the lifts open in the morning are a little hard and a little crunchy at first, but give it until 10 or so, when the snow begins to soften and that “crunch” sound is replaced by a gentle “swoosh” as your skis glide over the little ridges the snow-cats made the night before. On the east and southerly facing slopes, it doesn’t take long for the ice to turn to slush. By noon you’re already pushing water on your turns. But, by the time the lifts close, anything that has caught a little shade is starting to harden again. Any single run, especially a top-to-bottom, can give you five or six different types of snow conditions.

Spring is a time for cruising. A time to layer on the sunscreen and turn your face to sky on the ride up, or, as so many more folks are doing these days, the climb up. I know that the spring- breakers are totally digging the warm temps and the great snow. There haven’t been so many happy Texans in one place since the Longhorns beat the Trojans in the Rose Bowl.

So, if you’re keeping track of what season is your favorite don’t forget spring. It just may trump summer and winter. We’ll see how autumn does come October.


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