As single Aspen trees turn golden under cold fall nights, ski areas in Colorado are already putting snow guns in place to make snow for the ski racing elite, Denver weekend warriors, and weathered ski bums alike. The result is a skinny white strip of snow that cuts down an otherwise brown slope. Filled with University of Colorado skids and suit and tie weekend warriors, this melting pot for ski enthusiasm has earned the name “The White Strip of Death.”
“You’re actually going up for the strip of death?” is a question I’m forced to answer this time of year as my anticipation for ski season comes to a boil. And “yes… yes I’ am” is my restrained response.
After arriving in the parking lot alone, I squeeze my feet into cold boots. My feelings at the beginning of the season are completely different when compared to the end. In June, I remember how tired I felt coming off Teton Pass after a horribly marginal ski down Mt. Glory. I couldn’t wait to call it a day and hang up my boots in exchange for flip-flops, river trips, and a steady diet of ice-cold beer. But now, I couldn’t be happier to shove my feet into cold plastic boots and drink hot coffee.
Over the course of an hour I lap the one run till my legs start to quiver prematurely. First impressions are important and the first day of skiing sets the tone. Take it slow. Make turns. And for god sakes watch out for the rest of the skiing public. Luckily, the flat brimmed, sunglass wearing jibbers are sticking to the miniscule terrain park, where they slide over tiny rails and boxes, hooting and hollering the whole time.
Skiers and boarders are getting it and getting it early.
Although the conditions are not mid-winter, the off-season temperature creates the perfect corn/freeze mix for getting started early and ending late before heading back down I-70 to Denver and the rest of the ski season.
When I arrive back in Denver my roommate asks, “How was the White Strip of Death?”
“You mean the White Strip of Life… It was great.”