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Snow spoiled

Tony Vagneur

Every once in a while, I suspect that the ol’ boy who writes this column may be losing a few of his marbles, just by the attitude he takes on from time to time. Without saying, it has been a heck of a winter and it appears there’s plenty left for those of us who never seem to be able to get enough. We’ve passed the midwinter hump, but barely. It’s not malaise, or inattention that has me down, it’s the snow.President’s Day started out as potentially being one of the best days of the season – half a foot of fresh snow and a distinct chill in the air on the upper slopes. It was a workday for me as an ambassador and I soon found myself the leader of a bevy of beauties from Sun Valley and Australia, all of whom had ski bummed around together a few years ago and as a result, were mighty fine skiers. I finally got them worn down, but it took until around 1:30 and even then some of them weren’t so sure they should throw it in so soon. They kept the heat on my tail and we covered the mountain relentlessly, getting plenty of face shots and grinding the tops off some monster bumps. But somewhere in the back of my mind, there was an unsettled feeling, an imperceptible drag on the day that was related to the fact that we had more powder to contend with. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a powderhound of the first degree and have jumped out of more helicopters in Canada than a lot of people have ever dreamed about, and there was a time in my life when I might have, in the purest Daniel Webster sense, sold my soul for one more trip to B.C. Every time I hoof it out of Pandora’s or Power Line, or some other of that stuff, I fantasize about being just a little younger and ripping couloirs in Europe, working toward the world’s finest guiding credentials just so I could get a job as a helicopter ski guide in British Columbia. Maybe I’d marry one of those cute Revelstoke gals, buy a fixer-upper Victorian downtown, and leave my brains (don’t start) all over the Monashees, Selkirks and Bugaboos.Sometime back in the ’80s, we were suffering through a drought season, but I was managing to get in a lot of days on the hill. I remember coming off Spring Pitch onto the old Dago Road (now called Summer Road, for some reason) and just as I prepared to tuck it into Strawpile, the venerable Gale Spence, a member of the 1950 FIS Championship U.S. team and relentless former Aspen Ski Club coach, spied my form and flagged me down, wondering what the big smile was all about. The quick reply was that it was difficult to get enough of that hard-packed, fast snow and how it really kept me on my skis. He smiled then, as well, and offered that he and I might be in the minority with that kind of thinking.Feb. 11, 2006 stands out as the start of an excellent snow week, ending with Sunday night’s (19th) accumulation of 6 inches. We’d had a mini-drought – no new snow since February 6th – and as my skis glided into Summit for the warm-up run, the temperature was well below zero and the snow, at last, fast and very hard. About as close to perfect as it can get, in my estimation. My ski buddy Valerie asked what kind of label I’d put on that hard snow and my reply was, “It must be the kind they have in heaven.”So call me what you want – a curmudgeon, the worst kind of spoiled brat – but I’m forthrightly complaining about a lack of hard snow in the midst of a powder skier’s dream winter. Tony Vagneur admits that he likes it any way he can get it. Read him here on Saturdays and send comments to ajv@sopris.net.


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