By G.D. Maxwell
Well, the good news is its finally stopped snowing in Colorado. Poor devils have only gotten about two inches the past week. Had to cut back the open terrain at some of their mountains to, oh, 97 per cent or so. Sure would like to see two inches fall around here. Thatd just about double our base.
The buzz around town is getting more palpable. Worried looks are creeping onto normally optimistic brows. "Itll come, sooner or later" is still the preferred salutation but theres less confidence in the voices carrying the message.
So the only sane thing to do is go skiing. See for myself. After all, its not every day you can rise to the challenge of skiing every open run on both mountains before noon.
My confidence was shaken a bit at the base of Blackcomb. Bob Dufour mountain manager for life ambled by while I was trying to remember how to put my boots on. Woulda helped if I hadnt left those Hot Chilis inside at the end of last season.
Bob was dressed in street clothes. I dont think Ive ever seen Bob dressed in anything but skiing clothes between opening and closing day. Days off included.
"Goin up?" he asked.
"Gotta see for myself," I replied. "How is it?"
Okay? The word chilled me. Okay? Bob Dufour thinks conditions are okay? This was far worse than I could have imagined. For years now, Ive never heard Bob use any word milder than "excellent" to describe conditions on the mountains. Ive seen Bob, at a time any sane person would think of as the end of the season, mud-spattered from the knee to the cuff of his ski pants, kicking his skis off at the base of the mountain long after the most die-hard glissehead had given up and downloaded at least the last lift, picking pieces of shale the size of fingers out of his bases with a Leatherman and proclaiming the ski-out conditions "excellent." Okay?
Riding up Solar Coaster, the sky was full of clouds the colour of new bruises, mottled and folded over onto themselves, relaxed, not roiling. Sun oozed through a seeping suture like liquid fire. Everything above the monochrome landscape said "Snow." But no snow fell and none has since cant remember when. No snow up the Wizard. None up the first usually mogulled pitches of Solar. Finally patchy, crusted centimetres started to cover the colours of late autumn. The lowest swaths of snow bore clear tracks where crazy boarders had pushed the envelope of the possible and made their own contribution to the local economy springing hard-earned dough for base repairs and flaming crayons of p-tex.