Wednesday, November 17, 2010
This morning I had the real pleasure of getting back on the sticks for my first Ajax skin & ski of the season. What a beautiful morning. I got to the base of Aspen Mountain around 7:30 geared up and began the deceptively long and steep ascent. Shortly after the start I happened to run into good friend, coworker, and Leadville pacer Clint Coerdt who was on his way up as well. We chatted and skinned together for a short while before going our separate ways at the Copper, Spar intersection.
Every time I skin Ajax I forget just how brutal the ascent of Spar Gulch is. It is probably close to 2,000 vertical feet at a constant and unforgivingly steep grade. It's awesome. When I arrived at the bottom of Chair 3, I was greeted by about 7 snow makers blowing clouds of artificial snow across the face of the slope. I got blasted by those machines but emerged at the top to absolutely ideal conditions.
I spent a few minutes up top chatting with fellow early birds before situating my gear for the fun part. The downhill was fantastic. The top third of the mountain was buried in shin to knee deep freshies with very little early season exposed hazards. I floated down Dipsey Wall and Blazingstar before pointing it back down spar for some untouched but slightly chattery corduroy. At the bottom of spar I made the slightly ill-advised decision to cruise down Bingo Slot rather than go around Kleenex Corner. My skis paid the price pretty bad here. It was like skiing on snowy gravel. Oh well. Totally worth it. The last stretch of Little Nell was pretty soft and nice although there is still grass growing through the snow pack. At the bottom I briefly considered a second lap before heading home to stuff my face. A few hours later I went to my first real Hot Yoga class and it absolutely kicked my ass. Awkward amounts of perspiration.
Just another beautiful, challenging, fulfilling day in the Roaring Fork Valley. There is no place I'd rather be.