I've been kinda depressed. While I've been hitting the skiing pretty hard (today was day 20), it has been disappointing. Sure, I rationalized all of the early season groomer stuff as "good for you" skiing. I read Bob Barnes homage to skiing on firm snow, and actually convinced myself that I could continue to have great progression in my skiing if I continued to ski the firm snow that we've had in Summit County. And while I had made it my objective to bag 25 days prior to showing up in Aspen to ski with Schanzy the week after next, I became depressed earlier this week after reading the Opensnow.com forecast for the next two weeks: little to no snow.
In fact, Joel Gratz, the meteorologist at Opensnow.com, stated that it was looking pretty unlikely that anything was going to drop for Northern (or Southern, for that matter) Colorado this week, next week was looking warmer and drier, and he was headed to Jackson in a funk. Well, my buddies started dropping for skiing today, so I almost threw in the towel with a plan to get some time in the gym. But late last night, my crew came together with a plan to ski at Copper today.
I awoke this morning and retired to the reading room to review email, etc. Half of my crew decided to bag the day as "the wind was expected to top 35 mph" and that didn't sound like too much fun given "the icy conditions." I, therefore, was on my own to drive to the Park and Ride to pick up the other half of the crew.
The wind was blowing about as hard as I've seen it blow when I headed south on 93 from Boulder to Golden. A couple of power lines were down and flapping in the wind. Not looking too promising. I met up with my crew and we headed west. Into a fierce wind. Around Idaho Springs, we started to get a bit of rain. It switched over to snow around Silver Plume. And traffic came to a halt, as those vehicles without adequate traction snarled progress.
We made to the mountain at 10 in the midst of a fierce storm. Snow was coming down, everything was looking soft. My crew wanted a warm up run, so we headed up the Excelerator to the top for a run down Copperopolis. Soft snow! Like really soft snow! I'd forgotten what soft snow feels like! Euphoria! Excitement! Find the lift in a hurry!
We took an early lunch to ski the noon groomer. We didn't care about the groomer; what we wanted was the fresh untracked snow that fell since grooming. After that, we found even better conditions on runs that were opened. They closed the Excelerator due to wind, but the Superbee continued to run. And the wind continued to load the slopes we were skiing without anyone else on them with a foot of windblown. It was fantastic.
Today reminded me why I ski. It isn't to ski groomers with perfect technique. Sorry, Bags, it's not about early edge engagement, or keeping myself from launching my body down the hill. It's not about pressure management, counter-rotation, and the inside half. It's about the feeling of absolute control over four edges engaged in variable snow. Which is what we had.
Whoever gave their sacrifices to Ullr, keep it up. Tomorrow won't be as good as today, but it will be better than yesterday.