No Ice Cream Truck in Sight.

Adam setting the pace while climbing Keystone at daybreak.

Last ski season was awful. Well, that’s not exactly true, it was actually downright abysmal. I would like to think it only appeared that way due to the fact the 2010-2011 season was record breaking across the board. The cold truth however is that it just sucked.

For the entire season we backcountry skiers waited and waited for Colorado to fall into the storm track, but alas, it continuously set up in places just outside the range of even the most ambitious weekend road trips. To make matters worse, what little snow fell here in the backcountry was on top of a sketchy and dangerous base layer so even the smallest soirees back there weren’t really all that enjoyable.

Since I generally always try and find positive aspects to less than optimal situations, I’ll say that over the previous season I did become quite proficient at repairing the bases of my skis and I managed to single-handedly keep companies who produce P-Tex in business.

Also, I managed to turn in a big season on my mountain bike given we could start riding in the foothills by mid-March. It was painful to quit watching snow forecasts so early, but once it was apparent what little season we had was dwindling, riding singletrack with friends on warm afternoons and long weekends rapidly became at least a respectable placement for the lack of winter stoke.

Now here we are, the week after Thanksgiving, and we find ourselves mired in that “tweener” season every skier, mountain biker and ice climber hates. There are no powder turns to be made and it’s too dark to ride much in the evenings. It’s also just chilly enough to make riding on the weekends not as savoury as it was just a few weeks ago.  It’s been cold enough for Ouray to start farming ice at the Ice Park but it’ll be a while before climbing can begin.

Speaking for the people I ski with who are also anxious to rip some fresh powder, it’s like we’re a bunch of 8-year olds sitting at the front window of our house on a hot summer’s day waiting for the ice cream man to come down the street. We listen intently for the slightest hint of that annoying, crackly music blasting from the loudspeaker mounted atop the truck, but the damn thing seems to have forgotten our neighbourhood once again. To makes matters worse, the PNW, West Coast, Montana and even Utah have been getting blasted…and I have no plans to ski out there until late February and April.

I do appreciate the ski areas here in Colorado who bravely opened their lifts in an attempt to let us locals knock some rust off our quads and allow some undiscerning out-of-stater’s to get a taste of sliding around on some manmade stuff, but there is no denying it’s just not here.

Nevertheless, we’ll keep a keen eye on the weather models, hoping that somewhere in the long range forecast there’ll be chatter of some massive system setting up in the Arctic with promise of bringing the goods here to Colorado.  Until then, I guess all we can do is try and stay in some form of backcountry shape with our early morning climbing/skinning at the resorts and ripping a few turns here and there on the corduroy as a consolation prize.

Please Ullr, I beg you, don’t let us suffer like we did last season.

Climb high. Ski fast. Pedal hard. Live big.

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