Saturday, February 7, 2009

Colorado: the lip balm state

Today was the first day to hit the slopes and boy, was it worth that endless drive yesterday and the handful of sleep last night! We drove straight from our hotel near Denver to the parking lot at Buttermilk Mountain which is just outside the town of Aspen. Weird name for a mountain. I'll have to research it when I'm not about to fall asleep on the laptop.

From the parking area you can see part way up the main lift area. For a second I got scared because I thought I was looking at the top of the mountain which would have made it smaller than Blue. After securing our lift passes and SES stuff, it was time to suit up and hit the slopes. As the main chair lift (there are 3) crested the first section we thought we were about to disembark. Thankfully it went on and on and on, way up to the top, about 2000 feet higher than the parking lot. If I weren't so paralyzed with well-earned fatigue, I'd go dig up my trail map and bore you with specifics. Maybe tomorrow night.

Sean was crowing like a kid in a candy store as he looked down on all these wide open well groomed runs. Luckily the people next to us didn't seem too scared by his squeals and hoots of joy. We decided to start out in the central section of the mountain and it seemed to take an awfully long time getting down which was fantastic! For comparison, Blue has an elevation of less than 1000 feet and this is where we ride most often.

We moved shortly after to the west part of the mountain which had some really sweet runs. Normally his carving board and my all around board don't enjoy the same terrain but we were both finding a lot of territory that worked well for both of us. For me, it was odd to see so many carvers on the slopes as they are somewhat a minority in Ontario. Our whole reason for being in Aspen this week is to participate in the Summit Expression Sessions (see link below) which is all about carving. There are a whole lot of skiiers here, rather reminiscent of Zermatt in a way. What there isn't a lot of here is people in general on the slopes. It's a Saturday and there's so much open space on the mountain! After an exceptionally crowded evening at Blue on New Years, this is a very welcome change. Sunshine, temps at about +7C and hardly any people around? Recipe for an awesome day! Totally worth the goggle burn I got.

I'm about asleep so I'll leave you with some fun and interesting things I saw today:
-A sign for the new playland at the McDonald's in Rifle
-About a dozen elk at various points at the side of the road, both very stiffly dead and actively alive
-I liked going through the tunnels on the steep and winding road to Aspen. I'm not as fond of the truck runaway lanes.
-A lot of the rock around here is red which reminds me of Arizona
-Saw a sign for Exit 119, No Name 1/2 mile
-There's a GIANT hotsprings pool in Glenwood Springs that I'd love to visit sometime
-They are fond of roundabouts in this area
-I saw a woman skiing with one arm in a sling. Not sure whether to file that under "hard core" or "stupid"
-I'm in love with this area. It's scenic with lots of mountains all around, there are 4 major ski places within spitting distance and the town of Aspen is very cute. The architecture here is very nicely blended into the surroundings. What I mean by that is that you've got all different varieties of houses from endless condos/chalets at the hills to modest ones downtown to quietly monstrous ones and yet none of them scream, "LOOK AT ME!!!". They all mix well together and sometimes you don't even notice them until you're upon them. What a refreshing change!
-At the grocery store tonight, I overheard one woman discussing with a friend which part of her face she wants her plastic surgeon to take a look at. Sorry lady, that's not going to help you at all. Another woman jumped into a newly opened line (clearly marked 15 items or less) with a cart full of groceries and a dozen other people waiting.
-It's REALLY dry here and not just the earth. I was warned and Lisa was right so I'm glad I brought so much lip balm with me. It's definitely getting used.


Heather said...

Testing to see whether this stupid thing lets me comment.

Heather said...

Imagine that road to Aspen in a storm? I had to shut my eyes when Dad drove The Million $ Mile through those mountains south of Ouray, CO (SW of you), so named because it cost $1 million/mile to construct. At that time of year (Sept.), the aspens were yellow and really pretty mixed with the dark spruce and the occasional Colorado blue spruce. There was snow on the ground already then(see my FB picture). Told you we went past Telluride; I see you would also have passed Vail, if we're talking Beautiful People and where they hang out. Maybe it's not crowded because the economy is in the tank and it's expensive there.Enjoy it while the going's good!
OMG, I'm Allowed. Thank you, Google....this time anyway.