Well it is certainly official that winter has arrived in Aspen. After a beautiful fall, filled with crisp sunny days along with some nice days of rain, a mega snowstorm has hit the Elk Mountains, bringing over a foot of snow in town and up to three feet at higher elevations. This storm came at the perfect time, as just a week ago people were still mountain biking and hiking, enjoying the fall weather to the fullest. Now those same peaks and trails where people were doing summer activities are now covered in snow. Many people have even started skinning up Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Mountain to enjoy some fresh turns. Reports of epic conditions, solid base coverage, and no shortage of face shots are circulating throughout the valley, and the general stoke amongst the local population of the Roaring Fork Valley is at an all time high. To have such a banger start to the season, with a 5-day blizzard and not just a little accumulation here and there is always a good sign of the winter to come.
In two weeks, just days after Aspen Mountain opens, is Winternational, the womens World Cup ski race. The world’s very best women’s ski racers will converge onto Aspen the weekend after thanksgiving. Olympians Michaela Shifferin and Laura Gutt will be racing down Aztec and Strawpile on the west side of Aspen Mountain in the Giant Slalom and Slalom. The Winternational event is a great kickoff to the season, and with all the new snow viewers around the world will be able to see just how good Aspens winter is starting.
This type of start to the winter season hasn’t occurred since 2007/2008, when it was 60degrees one day and the next there was four feet of snow. This continued into what would be a record-breaking year, with 402 inches of total snowfall. During that season people visiting Aspen were testing all kinds of new skis. Wider is certainly better when skiing soft powder snow. The wider surface area of the ski allows the skier to float on top of the snow instead of sinking in. Another positive addition to the powder ski genre is Rocker or Early Rise. This is where the tip (and sometimes tail) of the ski curve upward, making the ski stay on top of the snow and not dive down when making a turn. Nowadays almost all skis have some sort of rocker or early rise, and it actually makes the ski engage the turn sooner even on groomed runs. At Miller Sports we sell several skis that perform excellent in soft powder conditions. The Blizzard Bonafide is an Aspen Mountain favorite, with 98mm width in the waist and early rise in the tip and tail. The Bonafide is the perfect one-ski quiver. It can carve on groomers all day long, and when the snow starts falling it can rip powder from bell to bell. Another favorite is the Kastle FX94. Just 4mm narrower than the Bonafide, the FX94 by Kastle has tip rocker and a single metal laminate on top of a wood core. Lightweight and very responsive, the FX94 can ski any type of conditions. The 94’x big brother is the FX104, which spans a 104mm waist. Floatier in the soft stuff, the 104 is a strong and powerful ski. It has less sidecut than the FX94, so for a hard pack day this wont be your best pick, but in any other condition the FX104 will rip.
The extended forecast after this storm is high pressure and sunny, yet very cold temps are predicted. This means that the snow that has fallen for the past week will stick around, permanently we are guessing. Winter has begun in Aspen, Colorado and we are blessed to have it start so strong. This is a special place we live in, with some of the best ski terrain in the world, the very best ski shops in the world (especially ours☺), and the all the culture and social events one can ask for. Come visit Aspen this winter, and see just how amazing this little slice of heaven is.