I'll be the first to admit it: there's nothing better than finding time to laze it out on the couch. Off-seasons spent thumb-twiddling; evenings cuddling with the lady; sitting back and ...Read More
While others are milking their last laps on their 29ers or up playing human slalom on the vertical hockey rink, I found myself milking my time (and my buddy's kids) taking ski bumming to n ...Read More
A good friend came to town and we did how Aspen does: ski, apres, party, sleep...repeat. Jonny Klemchuk (@JonnyKlemchuck) was only in town for a couple of days, so we took advantage of sunn ...Read More
There has been a rash of deaths recently, and MSNBC took on the subject in a recent airing. I'm not so sure I appreciate the term 'Death Zone', as it will only fuel the misinformation that ...Read More
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.
La Nina has been a cold nasty lady this winter…well, at least for the shredheads in B.C burrowing through their streets en route to the snow encrusted mountaintops. We in Aspen have had it lucky. We haven’t had the slightest issue with parking in town or with having to decide if the furnace room or the fireplace is the best way to dry your ski gear. Yep, instead of shred outfit maintenance protocol or busy, snow filled parking spots, folks in Aspen – along with the entire lower 48 – have carried on spirited conversations debating which process is better in order to apply ample sunscreen to your sun-chapped face without sacrificing millimeters of the goggle tan.
But all that is about to change. The storm pattern is dropping further south, the promise of La Nina’s sloppy, snow-filled kiss about to planted all across the Western U.S. Places like Mt Hood, Oregon are about to find themselves bedding down with this moisture-laden lady for the better part of the week. Even Aspen, with its beautiful 40F and sunny weather, might find itself blanketed with some new snow.
All I know, is that it is time to start the van up again, see if she runs, and prepare for the biggest winter of storm-chasing I’ve ever known.
The Pat and Tats Show is back on program, and we’ve kicked it off with our first season of Saddle Up with Pat and Tats, presented by Tecnica/Blizzard. With minimal snowfall this early season, Pat’s dreams have been full of powder shredding and good times from last season’s escapades. Throw in some dirt skiing and you can call it early season!
Watch this and pray for snow…it’s time to shred again!
Quick edit courtesy of fellow Backcountry.com and Aspen/Snowmass team athlete, Chris Erickson. What a series of beautiful, bluebird days! So much fun out there in Aspen shredding with an amazing group of rippers. Keeping me on my toes and wind in my hair!
Had a great time the other day with our local Trew Crew: John Pew, Casey Vandenbroek, Pat Sewell, JF Bruegger, Colter Hinchliffe, Parker Olson and more. It snowed 1/4in overnight and we took advantage of the freshies with slash-turn faceshots on every run. With this group, everyday is a powder day.