Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fair-Weather Skier

Skiing 'Ozone' in the Bowl at Aspen Highlands
During a normal ski season, we would be enjoying the best snow of the year right now. The cold, dry conditions of late January and early February typically produce the light, fluffy snow that is perfect for skiing. Not this year. Western Colorado is just coming out of a solid month of single-digit temperatures, crystal-clear skies, and no wind. A temperature inversion had settled in and then refused to leave, preventing any new snow from falling and making skiers miserable.

I have skied only twice this season, and not once since December 30. I can't remember an entire January passing by without going skiing at least once since I started skiing forty-five years ago, at the age of ten. It occurs to me that I have become what is known as a "fair-weather skier." This is not necessarily a bad thing. One of the reasons I moved to Colorado from Wisconsin back in 1986 was so I could pick and choose my ski days, not be stuck with whatever conditions existed during annual week-long ski trips out west. My buddies and I would ski some of the most terrible conditions you could imagine, because that is what there was. Also, growing up skiing on Wisconsin's icy runs, we really didn't know any better.

Living in Colorado spoils a skier quickly. Now I won't go skiing unless the weather is good and the snow conditions are decent, even though I live less than an hour away from Powderhorn ski area. It's no fun to freeze your butt off on slow chairlifts to ski rock-hard, month-old snow. Why bother? But our frigid drought ended this weekend. While it was raining non-stop down in town yesterday, it was snowing hard up in the mountains. I just checked Powderhorn's snow report, and it showed seven new inches. Today would have been a great ski day, but there were things that needed doing. I'll just have to wait until next weekend to get up there. I may get to pick and choose my ski days now, but work still limits those choices to weekends only.

A note about the photo above: It's a picture of me skiing "Ozone" in the Bowl at Aspen Highlands, taken by my friend Dave Johns on March 8, 2003, almost ten years ago. The reason you can't see anything but blue sky behind me is that the run is so steep that the camera is pointed up at an angle of almost 45 degrees.

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