The weather outside is frightful

click to flip through (3) Forest of snow.
  • Forest of snow.


By G. D. Maxwell

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There is no such thing as too much snow. I once made the mistake of saying there was and lived to regret it, watching a perfectly good ski season turn into a desert. I’ve never made that mistake since.

There was a dearth of snow at the start of the Ski la Vie tour. I scraped across way too many small, sharp, shale bits unearthed by the grooming machines at Angel Fire. They sounded like ground glass in a slow blender gouging into the base of my skis. There was a psychic if not physical hurt whenever I couldn’t avoid them. They made my imagination bleed.

There was old snow in Taos, pre-Christmas snow. The crystal clear deep-freeze temperatures that settled over much of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the week before Christmas sucked all the moisture out of the snow and made it squeak underfoot. The cold temps meant there was no freeze-thaw cycle and resulted in that familiar, chalky snow that takes edges so easily and holds onto them so well.

It started snowing late in the day Friday at Purgatory, a blowing snow of tiny flakes mixed with ice pellets. After snowing all night, the road back to Durango was a treacherous crawl while the lanes coming to Purgatory were filled with drivers eager to ski and willing to chance pulling into the snow-packed centre lane to pass. Not all of them made it.

Since then, the snow’s been constant. The road from Durango to Telluride closed behind me. It’s still closed. A massive avalanche buried a 200 yard stretch of the road up to Silverton, stranding skiers on one side and wish-we-were-skiers on the other. It’s still closed 24 hours later. A snowboarder died in an avalanche at Vail. Two families of snowmobilers are missing in the Cumbres Pass area.

Skiers and boarders in Telluride regaled each other all day Sunday with lies and exaggerations about the runs they just had. “Can’t remember a better day ever,” was heard a lot despite the fact the highest lifts weren’t turning. None of the beautiful people from the gazillion dollar homes were spotted.

And cresting Monarch Pass, a monochromatic study in black and white — mostly white — the snow was falling hard and relentlessly. Highway and not-highway was distinguished only by the six-foot barriers of snow along either side of the trench I was driving on. “Highway’s closing at 5:00pm,” Greg Ralph at the ski resort there told me. “We’re blasting the slopes above the highway for C-DOT. It’ll be open in the morning. By then, another foot’ll be on the ground.”

I’ll be skiing every new inch of it.

Greg loves snow. The guy plowing the parking lot at the motel in Montrose this morning hates it. Snow’s like that. Kids love it; adults hate it. Skiers and boarders love it.

What’s that say about us?

Doggone deep.

Never Enough.


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