It can be a slow transition or it can happen overnight. One day you’re out on the trail in shorts and the next, well, it’s winter. Case in point– a few days ago we were riding mountain bikes in summer conditions on the White Rim(pics to come) and 24 hours later, Independence Pass is closed for the season ahead of schedule and I’m scrambling to find the scraper for the truck. A huge storm hit the state yesterday and officially stamped the end of fall and the beginning of winter. It’s time to embrace it.
First things first. Even though the mountain isn’t scheduled to open for a month I always love getting my ski pass so I headed to the ticket office and confirmed what I had heard. Paper tickets are a thing of the past and all passes now operate off a radio frequency (RF) chip, allowing them to be scanned from anywhere on your person as you walk through the gate. Gone are the days of needing to wear it on the outside or around your neck in order to be checked every time through. The big plus is that because I can keep it in my wallet, the chronic absent mindedness of forgetting my pass in a different jacket, backpack or pair of pants in a locker room at a different mountain might be effectively cured.
The potential downside? Well for one, the small, pixelated and monochromatic head shot is less conducive to the funny facial expressions some friends so proudly wear on their sleeves all season. And if somewhere down the road this diminished photo is eliminated all together, the days of wearing your old passes around your neck to some 80’s vintage/Pray For Snow party might be forever changed. Showing off former coifs (or just the presence of hair at all), pink day-glo jackets, Vuarnet sunglasses with the leather wind protectors or how youthful you looked in your early days, before spending every day out in the sun– could be a thing of the past. I’m sure that’s fine with some.
Next, the summer stuff on the deck gets stowed away until spring, closets get changed out and gear along with it. A pair of skis that delaminated late in spring were brought in to be warrantied and a second new pair were bought (they seemed like a good deal). I discovered a void– or put another way– created a new sub category in my ski gear quiver that needs filling so I tried on some new alpine touring boots which I’ll buy as soon as I can justify needing them, which in my head I’ve already done. Christy has been deciding on her new stuff as well and we should all be excited to know that she has already put together her new winter 09/10 ensemble, with the official release date still TBA. We’ll all just have to keep holding our breath. 😉 The mags with their gear reviews and the catalogs with the closeout specials were ahead of the game as always and have been arriving for several months now, and we were turned on to Gearscan.com as a central place to check on all the fire sales. Take a look.
It always seemed that most years Halloween and measurable snowfall in Aspen go hand in hand. With this current storm hanging around through Friday that should prove to be the case this year too, but to ‘one-up’ it, the snowmaking guns were heard cranking out the fake stuff on Little Nell last night, the cold temps allowing the switch to be flipped to ON earlier than usual. Even though the best memories of skiing here have never been marked by the snowmaking schedule it does help the early days and the World Cup events that will be here over Thanksgiving. Of course it could be a good omen for the perennially speculated early opening. Anyone hear anything yet?
And one more signal telling me we’ve turned that corner came in the realization that my subconcious recently began instructing me to have the Weather Channel on in the background at home and to check the Local on the 8’s forecast ten or more times a day. After going for months in the summer without caring, it’s always a tell-tale sign of winter’s arrival when I unknowingly begin doing this. It just happens. And on that note be sure to check out, bookmark or subscribe to Joel’s new Colorado Powder Forecast page, an improvement on his formerly emailed weekly predictions/ instructions he started last season. His unique weather and storm forecasts don’t villainize the bad weather like typical meteorologists and helps to answer the truly important weather questions of when and where the skiing’s going to be best.
Next up, putting the studs and the ski tube on the town bike, which might have to wait for a warmer day. It’s cold out!