Start of a Season

6 inches of powder on ungroomed trails, miles of winding paths to follow, untracked snowfields lying in wait, thousands of vertical feet to be accumulated. Sparkling snow caught by the sun as it falls steadily from low-lying clouds. Sunny and snowing. Powdery and soft. Cold but windless. Just about the perfect start to the season.

I am an avid skier. I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like (I guess I shouldn’t complain since I have such easy access to the mountains), so every beautiful day is like a jackpot. If I ski 10 times in a season and get one that is this nice, I feel lucky. So what better way to start this year off than with a powder day at vail?

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The snow brings out the stunning blue-green hues of the trees, which I love.

I started late this season. I’d heard less-than-stellar reports of snow conditions, and I wanted to wait for the perfect day to head up. But there’s only so long I want to wait after the resorts open. Technically, I did get a half-day in at A-Basin in early November, when there was maybe a foot of snow and only one trail open. I don’t think that counts, not by my definition of a ski day.

The clouds were a bit worrying, everything feels much colder without the sun. It was a comfortable temperature, though, and the clouds were thin so there would occasionally be a ray of sun peeking out. It had snowed the night before and continued into the morning, so the powder was accumulating by the minute. The day only got better as the snow deepened and we made our way out to the isolated back bowls. There are few things I love more than putting fresh tracks through a smooth blanket of snow.

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The clouds were low over the valley and continually sprinkled a dusting of snow over the mountain. The low light cast interesting shadows and highlighted the bottom of the valley in a way it typically doesn’t. It all looked a bit surreal.

 

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The sun peeked out enough to cast soft shadows on the slope. 

Later in the day the clouds dispersed and were replaced by patches of brilliant blue sky. It warmed up considerably but the snow was still as perfect as the beginning of the day.

I’ve found that as the day goes on, that fresh snow gets trampled down by the ski traffic. In the more isolated ares, though, it stays untouched all day. I love heading out to those isolated places in the afternoon, having solitude on such a large mountain, and having all that terrain mostly to myself. And I especially love finding a new trail or a secluded area that I can add to my list of secret treasures.

The furthest peak at Vail is called Blue Sky Basin, and it’s always an accomplishment to make it back there in a day. It has some of my favorite terrain and always good snow. I have such a deep-rooted passion for skiing (and this place in general) that it even made its way into my username- BlueSkyVail.

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Clouds clearing after the morning snow. 

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Steep trails and dense trees. 

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The snowy trees looked incredible in the late sun. 

Perfect ski days like this one always bring out my love for adventure and risk-taking. Maybe a dangerous thing, sure, but so much fun. These are the kinds of days that I remember and always hope for again. Some of my favorite outdoor memories have been with a pair of skis on my feet, and I think the low light and soft snow that morning has made the list.

Not a bad start, I’d say.

-BlueSkyVail

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