Author Archives: Bobby Schafer

About Bobby Schafer

My first introduction to skiing was at a little mom and pop ski area tucked into a small corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. This was my second year of college. After graduation with a couple of bachelor degrees firmly in hand, I would regularly find myself daydreaming at work of being the next Scot Schmidt or Glen Plake. After a year of working a 'real job', I had had enough and decided to pull the pin and find a ski resort where I could ski every day. I sold everything I owned, loaded my favorite K2 TNC's on the roof rack and started driving my old Cherokee towards the Rockies. I had no idea where I would end up and after a month of driving around, I found Aspen. I've now surpassed my 20th year here in the Roaring Fork Valley and still love this place as much as I did on day 1. I had a good run as I was able to figure out how to ski 5 to 6 days a week by working evenings. I did that for 17 years. Things have changed a bit now as I have a family and priorities change. I'm currently on the mountain a few days a week with one of them dedicated to skiing with my five year old son. With so much time on our four mountains in the last 20 years, I would like to share my knowledge and insight with you as you plan your ski trip to our mountains. I hope you can ski vicariously through my camera lens and enjoy Aspen/Snowmass as much as I do.

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The vernal equinox is upon us and it sure is nice having equal amounts of daylight after a long winter of dark and cold.  If you’ve checked out the current weather in the upper Roaring Fork Valley surely you’ll know that it’s been nothing but abundant sunshine and temps in the 50’sF the entire week with more on the way.  Which means one thing, SPRING SKIING!  Here’s the kicker though…the skiing doesn’t get good until noon when the sun has had a chance to work it’s magic.  Which means you can have a nice sleep in, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, read the paper THEN hit the mountain.  The sun needs some time to soften things a bit after a nighttime freeze.  You could go skiing early, but why, the snow is harder than CroMoly steel and setting an edge on it is harder than getting a perfect bracket for March Madness.

DSCN0857Oh my, how the the intense sun gave me very overexposed photos today.  The reflection of the sun on the snow makes for great skiing and a rocking goggle tan but getting pics of it is challenging.  I took this standing on Sunrise around 3pm looking at Gretl’s, Reds and Upper FIS.

DSCN0858Panning over to a view of Chair 6 up to the Ruthies side of the mountain.  As you can see, the coverage is still pretty good for late March.

DSCN0856Another shot from Sunrise looking south towards Pump House, center, and Bonnies Restaurant, right.  Tourtellette Park, which used to be a town in the mining days (complete with it’s own post office) is sandwiched in between.

DSCN0861Looking the other way (East) towards Sunrise,left, Deer Park, center, and One and Two Leaf, right.  Gondola in the background and Chair 3 center.  That about covers it on the upper part of the ski hill.

DSCN0854I did a few top to bottoms today staying mainly in the Dumps.  This, however, is the lower part of the area known as Slalom Hill.  A couple of bare spots but nothing to be alarmed about….yet!  You can see the old 1A chair to the left and town in the background.  You can even make out how green the grass is getting in Wagner Park, center.

DSCN0862A shot of Face of Bell taken from Perry’s in the Dumps.

DSCN0848One last shot of Bonnies as the sun starts to fade in the late afternoon.  The mountain stayed open today until 6pm and it would have been fun to ski that late if my legs held out.  Spring slush bumps are tiring on the body.  A few more weeks of skiing then it’s time to get out the motorcycle.  Stay tuned for a few more updates.

I’m out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Friday the perfect quintessential spring skiing day awaited me but I got briefly sidetracked as it was a date that only happens once every centennial.  If you’re a math geek like myself, you were rejoicing in the fact that the the date lined up perfectly for the first time in 100 years if you’re a PI fan.  It wasn’t just March 14th, but March 14th, 2015….3/14/15.  Or if you will, 3.1415.  PI taken to 4 digits.  PI is the ratio of a circles circumference to it’s diameter and goes on indefinitely.  It’s been used as a value for 4000 years and was first thought to be used by the Babylonians in mathematics.  (say that with a Cliff Claven voice for added effect)  OK, where was I….enough of that and on to the skiing.  The sun was out and the temps hovered in the 50’sF in town making for a great spring skiing day.  Let’s start with some pics and then I’ll give you the necessary hints on how to survive a deep corn day like we’ve had in the last week or so.

DSCN0832I rolled up to the mountain around noon today as the sun needs a little time in the mornings to work it’s magic.  Here is the jist of how spring skiing works in Colorado.

The soft snow that has melted in the sun all day turns rock hard over night in the freezing temps.  As the sun rises the next morning, it starts to re-melt that snow and turn it all soft and mushy again.  Put simply, the early morning skiing is a challenge as the runs are solid ice.  Have a leisurely breakfast and get to the mountain around 11 and ski until close.

However, there’s one caveat  to this statement. You need to follow the sun as it’s rays melt the eastern facing runs first then as the day progresses, the western facing slopes follow.  So start your day skiing runs like Tourtellette Park, Red’s, Ruthies, The Dumps and Walsh’s.  As the day progresses and the shadows take over those runs then switch to the Face of Bell and Gent’s Ridge.

DSCN0831Ruthies side of the hill with town in the background.  The snow was melted perfectly making those bumps as soft as a down pillow.  Spring skiing just may be better than a full on powder day as it’s warm and you can see.  Two huge bonuses.

DSCN0842As it was later in the day, you can see the shadows already have the Dumps in their grasp.  I’m standing on Gent’s Ridge taking this photo and those western facing runs are basking in the full glow of the sun.  And yes, they are all kinds of soft and mushy all the way down to Copper.

DSCN0828This was taken very late.  Almost 4pm.  As you can see, it’s fairly busy here in Tortilla Flats.  It is spring break after all.  If you look closely at Chair 3 though, you’ll see maybe 20 people in that lift line.  Yup, ski right to the chair.  Welcome to Aspen Mountain.

DSCN0836I’m standing on Face of Bell looking at Pump House on the left and Gretl’s on the right.  Tourtellette Park in the middle of the photo.

DSCN0826Midnight off of Buckhorn.  If you take this down and look left, you can access Pump House from a cat road.  Some beginner bumps on the right and groomed on the left.  Can’t go wrong.

DSCN0833Another shot of eastern facing runs on the Bonnies Restaurant side.  It looks like a lot of bumps but it’s not that bad.   Lot’s of groomed in the middle.

There is still a month of skiing to be had.  Make those plans to come on out.  As you can see, there is still plenty of snow left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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According to the reports from the Ski Company, it’s snowed the last 13 of 14 days here in Aspen yielding over 2 FEET of new snowfall.  Yesterday the storm cycle broke and the sunshine and cold weather returned giving us one of the best powder days of the year.  Knowing the snow was getting ready to stop, I ventured over to the Aspen Mountain Powder Tours desk two days ago and made a reservation for 1 seat in a snowcat on the backside for a powder tour.  These seats are hard to come by, but if you plan in advance, you can join too.

DSCN0769Once signed up, you need to have a pair of fatty powder skis and some decent powder skills to negotiate the endless deep powder of the Richmond Ridge terrain.  You meet your snowcat and guides (they run 3 cats per day / 12 people per) at the top around 9am for a full day of skiing.  I’ve taken about 6 of these trips over the years and I’ve had as many as 14 runs and as little as 11 on a typical trip.  It all depends on the strength of the group.  Keep in mind each lap is over 1000 vertical feet in length so it makes for some winded runs.  You will have a front guide leading the way and a tailgunner doing a sweep of each run.  Safety is paramount as with any backcountry adventure.  There are even areas that each skier goes one at a time to ensure group safety.

DSCN0785Because of the avalanche danger inherent with backcountry skiing, most of the runs are on intermediate level terrain of less than 30% in pitch.  If conditions warrant, there is terrain in McFarlands and Black Diamond bowls that are much steeper and challenging for the advanced skier.  The above photo was taken on the western facing slopes in the Little Annie basin.  The previous nights wind made a little crust on top but I wasn’t complaining as it was still knee deep.

DSCN0795There is 2500 acres available to the powder tours for their exclusive use and while that seems like a lot, it does get used up in a hurry with 3 cats running.  As you can see, every run is uncut bottomless powder with a sustained pitch about equal to Snowmass’ Big Burn.  Some runs are steeper, but for the most part, this run is a typical example of what your on.

DSCN0798We made of mess of this pitch.  Let’s do it again and try harder to make it pretty.

DSCN0802Much better.

About mid-day you stop for lunch.  Now this is not just any lunch, it’s lunch Aspen style.  Yes, the cabin is rustic complete with outhouse but the lunch should have a Michelin star.  It’s brought in from the Aspen Mountain Club and every bit as good as you can imagine.  Now, maybe I’m biased as I was so hungry from 5 morning powder runs, I would’ve eaten Spam if asked.  Even if you don’t like powder, sign up just for the snowcat ride, views and lunch.  It’s that good!

DSCN0815As you can tell from the photo, we’re losing light fast and it’s getting towards the end of the day.  A last peek through the trees at our last run of the day.

The next time you’re in Aspen and want a backcountry adventure you’ll remember for a lifetime, sign up for a powder tour.  Yes, it’s pricey but I guarantee you, it’s such a good time you’ll want do it again.  And if you’re not sure you’ll like it, invite me along and I’ll be glad to show you the ropes.

I’m out.

 

 

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I woke on Friday morning from my slumber and put my nose on the window to see how much new snow accumulated over night at the secret lair.  A few inches on the driveway didn’t even warrant having me summon my henchmen to shovel and when I checked the snow report, it said 2 inches.  OK, not too bad but I left the fatty powder skis at home as I didn’t need them to ski 2 inches.  Now fast forward 2 hours as I rock up to the gondola.  I overhear some folks talking in line that just had first tracks at 8am and they said they were skiing boot deep powder.  Being skeptical, I kept my hopes up but I was not counting on it being boot deep.  Once past Bell Mountain on the gondie, it was looking as if there was indeed about 6 to 8 inches up top.  Now, THAT’S a ski report that I’m glad wasn’t accurate.

DSCN0740My first run of the day was down Pussy Foot.  It was a cold 9 degrees F on top and the snow was that Colorado cold smoke that’s so dry it blows away like it was made from dandelion seeds.  This first run was just past 9am and you can see you have to get here early if you want the untouched stuff.

DSCN0741Second run was down Blondies.  As you can see, still opportunities for fresh powder along the tree lines.  It’s hard to see in the photo but it was snowing AND the sun was trying to come out and play.  It was a weird sensation but it sure was nice to be able to see in a snowstorm.

DSCN0757Later in the day it was still snowing and the sun had disappeared, but as you can see, the snow was still fairly deep.  A few tracks from previous skiers had corrupted the snow but this line down Glade 1 on Gent’s Ridge was still passable for decent skiing.

DSCN0756I took this photo farther down Gent’s in Jackpot near Bingo.  It’s starting to fill in here nicely and you can see the trees are spaced very nice for tree skiing.

DSCN0749I was looking for a shortcut through the trees into International for this little chute off the beaten path I know of.  Instead, I accidentally came across the most famous shrine of them all.  The Jerry Garcia shrine.  If you’re not familiar with our shrines, there are dozens of them spread across the mountain and there is even a book written about them.   We have shrines to people and places like John Denver, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.  The list is fairly comprehensive, get the book to seek them out.

DSCN0750This little tree stash is to the skiers right of Aztec.  You really have to pay attention to find the gap in the rope line to find it.  Once in, the trees are widely spaced and the snow is starting to add up making for some great tree skiing.  This area spits you out just above the Ruthies chair and if you find this area to your liking, you can do it again.
DSCN0742One last shot of the sun trying to come out while it’s snowing.  A strange phenomenon but something that happens here more than it should.  I’m standing high above the Dipsy Headwall looking at Chair 3.  You can see there is still untracked snow in front of me ready to be skied.  Yes, even YOU can get here early for those first tracks.

As I’m writing this, it’s pounding outside and here’s the bummer…I can’t ski it tomorrow.  With work on my schedule, I’ll hopefully get some of the remnants later this week.  The weather service is calling for 1 to 2 FEET of snow in the next two days.  Stay tuned for amounts and hopefully you have a spring skiing trip planned to come take advantage of our new found snow.

Do your snow dance, I’m out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve lived in Aspen since the song ‘Whoomp, there it is!’ was popular and can’t remember a period of time were we’ve had this long of a stretch with no measurable winter precip.  The western slope of the Rockies gets it’s fair share of powder and the last few weeks have been an unbearable wait for snowfall to return.  Finally, the last few days have dropped nearly 2 FEET of snow on our local mountains and according to the forecast, more on the way.  I was able to ski boot deep powder until my legs were thoroughly finished on Saturday and if I could have kept skiing, I would have, but they closed the lifts.  I skied Snowmass once again and as I haven’t been a regular on that mountain in about two decades, I wanted to find areas that have been newly opened in the last few years.  I found some interesting runs.  Read on.

DSCN0727 I started my day on Sheer Bliss and once again I found large, wide open intermediate runs that just keep going on and on.  One of the big differences between Snowmass and say, Aspen or the Highlands is run length.  The former hills are steeper but the runs relatively shorter, while this mountain takes it out of your legs because of length not pitch.  Above are some of the easy early morning runs I got under my belt before branching off for the steeper stuff.

DSCN0724More Sheer Bliss.  This run is loooong!

DSCN0721Yep, bottom of Sheer Bliss near the trees of Glissade and Free Fall.

DSCN0720I can’t even remember where I took this.  Along a tree line somewhere on High Alpine I think.  This was taken late morning and as you can see, hardly a track in here.

DSCN0737Here is a shot of a run that ended up being a detour on my way to Powderhorn.  This run is off of the skiers left of the ever popular Sneaky’s and it’s called the very cleaver, Sneaky’s Glades.  Back in the day this was considered O.B. and you had to duck ropes to get back here (so I heard).  Now it’s in bounds!  While not as sexy as ducking ropes (allegedly) , it’s still a nice little hidden area that you would ski by 100 times if you didn’t know it was there.  Back to Powderhorn.  I wanted to have a revisit of this run because the last time I skied it was over 20 years ago!  It’s a nice long run that starts at the Wine Cabin and ends up on the valley floor of the Old Snowmass valley.

DSCN0734Ok, now to the R.O.D.  Run of the Day.  I’ve clamored on about this area for three weeks now as I can’t seem to get enough of it.  Today I sent some of the posse in there as they haven’t been in here yet and they texted me after their first run with double thumbs up.  I’m talking about the Burnt Mountain Glades.  You access this area from the top of Elk Camp.  Hike the quick 5 minutes to the start of Long Shot and look right.  You’ll see (hopefully) a gate with the BMG sign on it.  Drop in and have fun.  The above photo is reminiscent of the terrain the area holds.  Nice long undulations with widely scattered trees and rollers.  Not a lot of traffic in here to muck things up.  Think of the terrain as lower wall but much longer.  The road out is pretty good but a bit dodgy in spots.  My son has his last weekly ski club lesson this Saturday and I’m planning on skiing this area exclusively until my legs fall off.  It’s that good.  Check it out.  You’ll love it.

DSCN0732More Burnt Mountain Glades.  This is where A line meets…oh, it doesn’t even matter.  Just ski it.   Everything you see before you is skiable terrain.   Notice there are no other tracks in here.  I skied it all day last Saturday and the only tracks I crossed were MY OWN!

I’m out.

 

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While the rest of the nation is being inundated with the wrath of more wintery weather and frigid temperatures, here in the central Rockies it’s full on spring weather.  And I mean spring!  Endless azure skies, bright sunshine and temps in town hovering in the mid 50’sF by mid afternoon!  If it gets any warmer, palm trees may spontaneously sprout up in Wagner Park.  One thing is for certain, Punxsutawney Phil did not include us in his plans of more winter.  Although we haven’t had the snowfall we normally get for this time of year, all things considered, the skiing is still excellent.  This week my son and I skied Snowmass and Buttermilk but today was my ‘free’ day and I had a few hours to myself to take in the steep and uncrowded black diamond slopes Aspen Mountain is famous for.

DSCN0702I waited until 11am to get to the hill today as I needed the sun to work it’s magic and soften things up a bit.  At night the temps are still getting down into the teens F which means the nice soft snow in the afternoon ends up freezing solid at night.  When the weather gets like this (usually in April), it’s best to wait until the sun has softened everything up again making the ski conditions palatable.  Since Aspen Mountain is typical spine skiing and faces mostly north, there are a fair amount of east and west facing slopes off of the spine in which to ski.  The spring skiing rule is to follow the sun and start skiing the eastern facing slopes first then move to the western facing runs as the sun moves past the yardarm in the afternoon.

DSCN0706As I mentioned earlier, I started my day by testing the eastern facing runs like FIS, Pumphouse and Reds.  These were all skiing well and had softened enough to set an edge and carve nice turns.  As I headed down the mountain on the Ruthies side I noticed the snow getting softer almost to the point of spring corn snow.  I knew if I headed down a bit further I would indeed find that glorious spring snow that’s almost as good to ski as powder.  Most of 1A and the lower mountain had turned to buttery softness and runs like Corkscrew, Super 8 and Slalom Hill were on the top of my mental list.  Yes, there are a few bare spots and twigs poking through here and there, but for the most part, still worth checking out.

DSCN0704This little hit I found today…well, I must have skied by it a thousand times before I saw it today.  I was on the gondola heading up looking over the Dumps trying to find a line to ski.  I saw a couple of tracks leading into some trees that I’ve never noticed before.  Just to the skiers left of Upper Short Snort, there is a goat path that heads into a small stand of Aspens.  Two or three lines in widely spaced trees lead down to Perry’s.  It was so smooth in there I did it again on my next lap.  As I sit here and write this, I’m still dumbfounded I’ve never seen this before.

DSCN0701More eastern facing bumps near Bonnies Restaurant.

DSCN0699That’s Deer Park in the background right and Sunrise, background left.  As I took this photo, it was getting on 2pm.  Time to start testing those western facing slopes now the sun has been on them a while.  First run was down the aforementioned Sunrise.  Great soft sloppy spring corn.  Time for the Face of Bell.

DSCN0713Face of Bell.  The cooking timer went off in my head saying the bumps are well done.  Time for a feast!

DSCN0715Well, you can tell from the photo we’re loosing light.  Even though the mountain is open until 4pm now, that sun sure sets fast this time of year.  This was my last run down the Face of Bell and it was a long one. I started up by Sunset and kept traversing down until I reached the Shoulder of Bell almost to the Nose.

What a great day.  Other than a whiteout powder day that’s coming down so hard you can’t see your tracks where you skied last, spring corn is a close second.  The sunshine, soft snow and hero skiing sure improve the psyche.

We do have a quick moving storm that is supposed to hit the area on Monday bringing some much needed precip to the area.  Other than that, not much in the forecast.  Other than sunshine, soft snow and hero skiing.  I’m out.

 

 

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I have accumulated a LOT of ski stuff over the years.  I have one bag dedicated to ski racing equipment, another to mid winter and one to extras and spring conditions.  We’re currently in the middle of an unusually warm spell and I had to find my third bag to get the spring gloves and lighter layers including spring jackets.  I can’t remember ever having to get my spring equipment out so early but it sure is nice feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays in the mid afternoon while on a chair lift looking at our beautiful mountain scenery.  And here’s the kicker…the snow conditions right now are still in great shape despite the temps.  Today we saw a midday temp near 45F in town and about 10 degrees cooler at the top.  With the sun approaching the spring equinox, it makes it feel warmer than it is.

DSCN0690I started my day around 10am and tried to find the softest snow in the north facing slopes and in the shade of the eastern facing runs.  Here I’m skiing down Gretl’s behind Bonnies Restaurant and while the bumps look ominous, the quality of snow makes them still manageable in the early morning.

DSCN0685Here is a little power line chute that you can find as you take the goat road to Sunrise and Sunset.  Look left just before you get to those runs and you’ll see this peeking through the trees.  Once again, I’m trying to find soft snow in the shade before heading to to sun-soaked eastern facing runs.

DSCN0693By 11am, it’s ON!  The sun has warmed up the eastern facing runs to the consistency of a half eaten Slurpy.  The photo here is of lower International and Upper Short Snort in the Dumps.  These runs are lower on the mountain and tend to soften first.  If you’ve never skied in spring conditions, you have to give it a try as it’s almost as good as fresh powder….ALMOST.

DSCN0695Dumps and more Dumps.  This was my go to area today as the runs are long and the soft bumps are nice and consistent.  Runs like Zaug Dump, Perry’s Prowl and Last Dollar kept calling my name as the laps piled up.  While on the Dumps, you can see the Face of Bell in the background.

DSCN0696   Perry’s with Face in the background.

The entire weekend was sunny and warm and unfortunately there isn’t a flake in the long term forecast.  Good thing we had so much snow at Christmas time.  The coverage is still great and I’ll continue to work on my goggle tan.

Stay tuned, I’m out.

 

 

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Today is the day I make my weekly pilgrimage to Snowmass to bring my 5 year old son to our local ski club for ski lessons and such.  They get to ski with their friends and generally make havoc around the mountain while the adults in the immediate area are just trying to not fall around them.  After the ‘drop’, I decided to stick around and actually ski the mountain instead of heading over to Aspen which I usually do.  It was a lovely morning today with temps in the 20’sF, windy with a mild blizzard dumping on us.  The snow started in the middle of the night adding up to a few new inches by morning and continuing throughout the day.  I don’t usually partake in skiing on Snowmass, but since I was there, I decided to ski some new areas and revisit some others I haven’t been to in years.  This is truly a huge mountain and it would take you a week just to hit the highlights.

DSCN0668Here I am standing under the Sheer Bliss lift first thing in the morning.  As you can see, not too many people on the lift yet.  This area has a bit of everything for the intermediate skier including some moderate steeps, gullies and wide open runs with nothing to hit for miles.(except the snow)

DSCN0666Case in point.  Here is the top of Sheer Bliss.  If you look closely in the photo, that’s the lift to the left.  Nice gentle slopes with a light hit of new snow to make it nice and soft.  This run goes down and down until your legs are Jello.  It’s so good, you’ll want to do it again.

DSCN0671Which I did.  This is my second run on Sheer Bliss.  If you veer left as you make your way down, you’ll come to this area called Garret Gulch.  Not sure why it’s a black diamond except once your in, you’re committed until you reach the bottom.  It’s not very steep just a few bumps and double fall line sections on the right side valley of the gulch.

DSCN0672Garett’s Gulch.  It looks like this most of the way down.

DSCN0670Here I am mid day heading up towards Sam’s Knob.  Most of this area is intermediate bumps and moderately steep terrain.  You could spend the entire day exploring just this area of the mountain.  This area is only about a sixth of the total area of the ski hill.

DSCN0676After my Sheer Bliss warm up runs, I ventured into new terrain for me.  About 10 years ago the area off of Elk Camp now called Long Shot wasn’t even a run.  At the time, there was a side country gate that said you are leaving the ski area boundary and you’re skiing at your own risk.  That’s the last time I was here.  My ski buddies and I would explore this area but it would literally take four hours to do one lap.  Now this area is an open, gladed and patrolled run that’s 3.5 miles long!, thus the name.  It’s a quick 5 minute walk to the start of the run from the top of the Elk Camp lift (see hikers in the background) where you can explore a truly blue intermediate run with the adventure of the backcountry!

DSCN0681If you’re looking for something a bit more while you’re on your Long Shot run, check out the Burnt Mountain Glades.  This area had the trees thinned out a couple of summers ago and opened officially last year.  It’s labeled as a black diamond area and I think that’s appropriate given the degree of difficulty.  Moderately large bumps with some trees thrown in makes for a challenging run. Oh, and double fall line to boot.

DSCN0673Another shot of some of the glades in there.  I didn’t hit a rock or stump while in there and the coverage was pretty good.  It’s probably even better after our last snowfall.

DSCN0680On my last run of the day, I headed up the High Alpine lift in order to find one of my favorite little hidden tree stashes.  When skiing down Reidars, you’ll see a small opening in the trees about half way down on the left. (not marked) This is Reidar trees.  It’s been years since I’ve been in here and the patrol has done a terrific job of thinning the trees out in the summers.  Back in the day, it was fairly tight in here but now you can see 5 turns ahead and there are no surprises any longer.  What a nice treat.

I had such a nice day here today, I’m planning on making a return next Saturday to see if I can find even more stuff I forgot about.  I’ll put my thinking cap on this week and see if I can remember any more little areas and report back next weekend.

Stay tuned.  I’m out.

 

 

 

 

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With X Games in full swing and the town full of millennials fueled up on angst and Monster drinks, what’s one to do but go skiing on the very mountain where they’re not, Aspen.  As we haven’t had a flake fall from the sky in a fortnight, fast groomers and hardpack bumps are what I like at the moment.  And since it’s white and I can ski on it, I’m not one to complain.

DSCN1109I took this moments after my ingress into the Silver Queen Gondola.  I popped open the window and shot this on the move.  As you can see, not a cloud and very few tracks at 9am.

DSCN0946Another shot from a moving gondola.  As you can see, the entire upper mountain is in good shape and still skiing quite well.  As I mentioned earlier, the bumps are firm and getting larger by the day but if you still look around, you can find little hidey holes with good snow.

DSCN0960I took this standing on top of Sunrise.  Bumps and more bumps.  If you’re not a good bump skier when you get here, you will be when you leave.

DSCN1000I’m not sure what this little hit is called.  It’s right under the Ruthies lift and you can see it on your right just as you load up and take off.   It’s only 20 turns or so but I haven’t hit a rock or seen an errant blade of grass poking through yet this year.  It’s also a tricky double fall line making things more interesting.  If you take this around the bottom of the Ruthies lift, it brings you over to Spring Pitch.  The skiers left line is still in good shape and the bumps are reasonable.

DSCN1316Continuing down 1A, you’ll find these two runs.  At the top is Corkscrew and then you’ll come to  a road. (Can’t really tell in the photo)  Just past the road is Slalom Hill.  If this doesn’t test your legs, then how about Face of Bell for you?

DSCN0941Silver Dip.  Ends up in Deer Park.

Please do a snow dance for us at home as I don’t see any flakes in the long term forecast whatsoever.  Even though we haven’t had snow recently, the local fishwrap reported today we’ve had as much snow this year as last.  Doesn’t seem possible, but OK.  As you can tell from the photos, the skiing is still above average and the warmer temps make for some really nice ski days.  If you’re planning on coming soon, don’t fret, you’ll have terrific skiing.

I’m out.

 

 

 

 

 

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With bluebird skies and temps in the 30’sF at the base of the mountain, it was a great day to be outside and skiing.  The conditions were firm and the bumps big.  I knew there was still some good snow to be had, I just had to look for it.  On my first lap of the mountain, I’m surveying Silver Queen from the top and look hard at the road that traverses to the left.  I’ve seen it a hundred times but have only taken it a handful of times. So take it I did.  Off the road were little hits through the trees and a way over to the top of Silver Rush.  This north facing slope keeps the snow in great condition days after a storm so naturally I had to make sure it was skiing well.

DSCN0651Here is a shot of Silver Queen taken from a quarter of the way down.  From here I kept moving left to find the best snow.  There were a few rocks here and there but easily missed.  As you can see from the photo, there is almost zero consistency in the bumps.  Line selection is free form at best.

DSCN0647Blondies is a tricky triple fall line run.  The middle is a mish mash of line choices depending if you took the left side or the right.  The two lines converge in the middle making skiing ‘interesting’. If you can flash this, you’re skiing well indeed.

DSCN0634Gretl’s first thing in the morning.  You can still make out the perfect corduroy on Tortilla Flats in the background.

DSCN0665By late morning I made my way to Bell Mountain.  You can see how firm and set up the snow is here on the ridge.  Despite that, it is still plenty grippy and holds your edge well.  This vantage point gives you a good view of town in the background.

It snowed all day yesterday and today.  Stay tuned for an update as soon as I can get out there.

I”m out.