Winter has finally arrived with a series of small storms that have left Aspen with fantastic conditions. Spent a few runs the other morning with the AspenSnowmass #ContentCrew and here are some quick shots from those fluffy laps. (Photos by Jeremy Swanson)
Resorts and ski areas across the country have experienced an interesting phenomenon this season: powder panic. Now, don’t get me wrong, skiers and snowboarders have always had that mob-mentality, freshies-frenzy when it comes to new snow and chairlift lines. People have been known to shove, push, pole and also to be shoved, pushed, poled in the mess that is the rush for first chair and that taste of sweet, sweet powder faceshots. I was raised by a powder-hound in Sun Valley, where powder days come fewer and farther between than our more western counterparts in the PNW or our southern counterparts in UT and CO, and our ski bum bachelor household was no stranger to the sense of urgency hanging heavy on those magical mornings. My dad was notorious for arising early in the morning to shovel, sweep and pack down the new snow around our house for hours before I awoke, when we would immediately rush to the ski hill. I’m not even sure he went to sleep on many of those nights, as he was up before the streets were plowed and the coffee addicts had dragged their way to Java Cafe next door.
But this season, this sense of urgency and heightened awareness of powder has been intensified all around the country. A lengthy drought has left many ski areas with only minimal terrain open, or for the snow-making elite, a slew of hard, icy groomers have been meticulously maintained to preserve the dwindling white stuff on the hill. Warm temperatures combined with a jet stream that just wouldn’t drop below the 49th parallel have left Stateside skiers and snowboarders starving for that soft feeling under their feet. In fact, many would-be shredders have ignored their seasonal conditioning and have resorted to weekend trips to the desert for mountain biking or golfing to soothe their thirst for action.
And, to compound the situation, the Norse god Ullr and Old Man Winter have conspired to reverse the effects of this unseasonal drought of late, only to drop multiple feet of snow on the western states. With all this new snow weighing on either a faceted snowpack or no snowpack at all, avalanches have been decimating roads and backcountry stashes everywhere. By many accounts, we have an extremely dangerous snowpack just waiting to impart its deadly kiss on the blindingly ignorant powder-thirsty fiend who dare tread into its grasp. Luckily, most shredders are aware of this danger and have opted for the in-bounds approach at their local ski hill, which brings me to my original point – add a mass of snow-starved people, give them limited options on appeasing this appetite, and add in limited terrain and you have a recipe for powder panic.
The photos below are evidence of a true pandemic of the winter kind. Lift lines have backed up beyond recognition to a point that is almost impossible to comprehend. Yes, it is a Sunday, and yes, it did snow, but where were all these people when the lifts were empty even just last week?
Powder Panic is in full swing, and the only cure is a series of storms to continue dropping new snow on a consistent basis. Once people satiate that initial hunger for powder, then the mobbing of local ski hills will taper off to the regular consistency of the season. At least, we all hope.
My week as head chef and stoke coordinator for the POC house at the Breckenridge stop of the winter Dew Tour has come to an end. It was a special treat to meet and hang with the athletes we have representing the brand in the park and pipe scene. Kids like Alex Ferreira, Kyle Smaine, Broby Leeds, and Robby Franco had a chance to hot tub, chow food, and relax right alongside some of the bigger names in the sport like Joss Christensen and Tucker Perkins and Alex Schlopy. It is great to see the camaraderie and teamwork that thrives between these athletes in an event where egos reign supreme. I was impressed to see how down to earth and motivated each of them were in dedication to this wild sport, and then, to see them take on the massive superpipe and park features Breckenridge likes to build was truly awe-inspiring.
Throughout the week we had all walks of life from the competition scene visiting the house, with team reps from ski brands, GoPro stoke monsters, parents, world-class coaches, and web gurus. Willie Ford, the new POC team manager, and I kept everyone well fed and full of beer (those of age, of course!) as the week went on. I learned a lot about cooking for an army and how to manage a dishwasher and trash compactor all without losing a finger or scalding myself with hot water. Whew!
Check out the following video from the prelims for superpipe:
Caught some good turns saturday with some great friends – Casey Vandenbroek and Pat Sewell. We hiked Highlands bowl for the first time this season, and although the conditions are still a bit gnarly, we found a nice windlip to have some fun with. Enjoy the pictures, courtesy of Jeremy Swanson and Aspen SkiCo.