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Beathard: It could always be worse

Jill Beathard
Editor’s Note
Jill Beathard

A couple weeks ago, I told a coworker to stop complaining about the bad snow conditions.

“There’s no such thing as a bad day on the mountain,” I said proudly, adding that she should take the sunny days while we could get ‘em.

Well, this optimist wound up eating her words. I skied four glorious bluebird days that week, and I loved the boost of energy and Vitamin D I was getting pre-work. But on the fourth day, I dropped friends off at the X Games and transported myself to Tiehack, where I got a good workout in on some moguls and finally decided I was tired of skiing the same mediocre conditions no matter what mountain I went to.

After a few inches fell on Saturday, a friend and I decided to earn our turns and hike the Wall on Snowmass. Much was our dismay when we got partway up and walked into a rope. Maneuvering our way down whatever that chute is called with snow that wouldn’t let me get my edges in and unmarked rocks, I must have called down “I don’t like this” four times before we reached safety in the untouched powder of the trees below.

Maneuvering our way down whatever that chute is called with snow that wouldn’t let me get my edges in and unmarked rocks, I must have called down ‘I don’t like this’ four times before we reached safety in the untouched powder of the trees below.

I thought that inch we got Monday morning had more of an impact — was it really just an inch? — at least on Aspen Mountain. Maybe our good friend Stewy just sent us some snow so we could make it to his shrine that morning.

As discouraging as the conditions are getting, it could be worse. My first season living here was 2011-12: I was working nights and had nothing to do during the day but ski, and believe me, when Aspen Skiing Co. left me with only about a third of the terrain I had come to expect, things looked bleak indeed.

A website called Unofficial Networks recently published a “Snowfall Progress Report” for U.S. resorts, showing the snowfall figures as of Jan. 15 as a percent of the norm for those areas. Aspen was actually pacing close to normal then, according to the report. And while some Colorado resorts like Copper Mountain and Telluride were exceeding normal snowfall — what’s up with that? — California resorts like Mammoth, Northstar and Heavenly weren’t even hitting the 50-percent mark.

The Aspen Times reported this week that while last month was the second-driest January recorded in Aspen since 1935, above-average snowfall in November and December meant that this winter is nowhere near the driest we’ve ever seen.

And, forecasters are still calling for wet spring.

That’s enough for me to hinge my hopes on. In the meantime, I think I’ll get my hiking boots back out.

Jill Beathard is the editor of the Snowmass Sun. Contact her at jill@snowmasssun.com.


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