The calendar says Spring…..the weather says WINTER!

So yesterday Ullr had a funny and decided winter shall return to the Aspen area.  Spring-type weather has been threatening lately, but winter weather is still hanging on.  With 8 new inches on the hill, I decided a change of venue was in order.  I usually make my own personal hajj over to Snowmass a couple times of year and yesterday was another calling.  Once the back areas of Snowmass fill in, it has some of the best expert level skiing in the valley.  Yes, everyone talks about the Bowl at Highlands and the Dumps in Aspen, but for some of the best technical skiing we have, you can’t beat the chutes of AMF, Gowdy’s, Baby Ruth and of course….the Wall.

Being that it’s early April, there wasn’t a line or crowded run to be had.  I underestimated the time it would take to get up on the mountain so I was not in line at my customary 9am.  I was a wee late, but no matter, I didn’t have to share the mountain with too many people.

My first run was something I don’t customarily do but since the Sheer Bliss chair was running and the Big Burn chair wasn’t, that meant the Burn was devoid of anyone skiing it.  I had the huge area basically to myself and I ripped off a couple of top to bottoms of untracked boot deep powder.  I also forgot how long the runs are at Snomwass compared to Aspen or the Highlands.  My legs were talking to me after a few of those.

DSCN0360A shot from the Sheer Bliss chair as I was riding up for the third time.  Still some great snow in there.

DSCN0368The clouds were in and out all day.  Everytime the sun came out for a moment, I would take a couple of photos.  Here is the entrance to West Face Trees.  If you stay in this drainage, you end up in Garrett’s Gulch.

DSCN0381More trees in the Garrett’s drainage.  Not the lack of tracks in here.  That’s the way it was all day.  Find a line and no matter where you went, it was pretty much untracked.

DSCN0384Standing at the bottom of the first pitch in the Wall.  To the right(not in photo) is the Roberto’s entrance and to the left is the Headwall.  I took the middle, the West Chutes.  West 1 and West 2.

The best wind loaded snow was in the Wall area and it was easily boot deep.  It was not your typical spring, heavy wet snow, but rather, mid winter cold and dry snow.  I couldn’t believe it was April.

DSCN0388A little tree stash at the bottom of the first pitch of Headwall.

DSCN0389This is the second pitch and one of the most popular parts of the Wall.  This is Wall 1 and Wall 2.  I’m standing between the two rock faces.  This snow was deep and pretty fluffy considering the sun was out now and threatening to turn it into mash potatoes.

As I’m sitting here writing this blog, I had visions of skiing again today on Aspen.  After a massive ski day of 5 hours yesterday, I’m just too sore to ski.  I had an Aleve but that didn’t help.  I even had a Red Bull.  However, the day wasn’t wasted.  Since it was near 50 mid valley, I took a couple of hours and de-winterized my motorcycle and went for a ride.  It was so nice I ended up riding almost 70 miles.

There are two weeks of skiing left plus a couple of bonus weekends at Aspen.  The snow keeps on piling up so I’m going to keep skiing it.

I’m out.

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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.