Spring skiing…..in February?!

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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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.