Aspen/Snowmass

Lessons in Powder

40"!
Our hot tub with 40″ of new snow

After the incredible dumping of snow we had last week (40″ in three days!), I learned a lot about skiing in powder.  Since we bought our place here two years ago, the snowfall amounts have been below average, so we don’t have a lot of experience with true, soft, “champagne” powder.  But last week we hit the motherlode.  It started snowing Wednesday night and didn’t stop until Sunday.  And as a newbie to deep powder, I can tell you, it’s a mixed bag.  On one hand, it’s a fantasy, a dream of flying, effortlessly floating without the pull of gravity, with a backdrop of snow covered mountains like a storybook fantasy.  On the other hand, skiing multiple days on packed, groomed runs does nothing to prepare you for skiing when your feet and skis disappear, and you’re skiing on uncertain surfaces.

We quickly learned a few things.  First, when the snow is deep, everyone goes to Aspen Mountain (or the steepest mountain around).  Deep snow = slow skiing, and when there’s not a sufficient incline, you get stuck.  Trying to step your way out of 3 feet of snow with skis attached to your feet is pretty funny looking, and not fun at all. It took me 45 minutes to step-ski down the hill by my house, a hill that usually takes 5 minutes, tops. I wish I had a video of the duck walk I had to do…step forward and down (3 feet +), then trying to lift the back ski out of the snow to step forward.  I’m not graceful on a good day.  I can’t imagine what I looked like.   The ski home down the top part of Cascade is usually a very fast, slippery ride, and I can’t do it without sliding sideways a bit when the snow is packed down and icy in spots.  Last week I skied straight down, no edging necessary.  The second thing I learned is when someone has skied down ahead of you on an ungroomed blue run, stay in their tracks or you’ll get stuck.  And when you’re cruising down an intermediate run in someone else’s tracks, and see some beautiful, untouched powder, be careful switching over!  When you’re flying down and hit powder suddenly, your skis stop and your body keeps going.  The good thing is a tumble in the powder is like falling on a mattress.  The bad thing is if you lose a ski, you have to dig it out and find a flat spot to click back in.  Not fun.  I also learned that my lighter K2 Line skis that I bought last year to use for uphill skiing (skinning), work great in the deeper snow!  They’re not powder skis, per se, but do have a bit more under foot (90mm) than my shaped all-terrain skis, and I loved them.
But most of all, it’s amazing.  There were sparkles from the bits of sunlight peeking through the clouds that made the snow look like a pile of diamonds.  The bumps are so soft and forgiving, it doesn’t matter if you miss a turn.  Everyone is so happy and it’s truly contagious.

Top of High Alpine
Bluebird day on top of Showcase

I have NEVER shoveled snow before.  I’m from Tennessee, where we get 1-3″ and it melts by noon.  But as the snow on our balcony continued to rise up to the top of the railing, I decided I needed to reduce the weight of all that snow, so I grabbed my little snow shovel, and three hours later, it was gone!

Before, during and after

So this is what I learned about shoveling snow.  It’s hard!  My back and upper body was sore for days.  And three days later, it started snowing again!  I guess a little honest labor is a small price to pay for being here. We have way more base than we’ve had in the last three years, so the conditions are perfect.  We had 4″ of fresh as of 6 a.m. and it’s still snowing, so…gotta go ski!

0 Comments

  • Carol Harden

    Thanks for your word pictures! Sounds like fun…. Enjoy the powder!
    Keep the faith….

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