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A-Basin: A family ode to opening day

The 2014-2015 Colorado ski season starts Friday, Oct. 17 at Arapahoe Basin

Dylan Berwyn charges down West Montezuma Bowl, January 2012.

Dylan Berwyn charges down West Montezuma Bowl, January 2012. bberwyn photo

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Snaky, hissing lines under Pali Chair.

By Bob Berwyn

My history with A-Basin goes way back to the early 1980s.  I remember a memorable July 4 snow storm during that era, and lots of other assorted mayhem.

OK, mayhem may be stretching it a bit, but there was the time when I was hurrying to get to the slopes and accidentally slammed my friend’s thumb in the sliding side-panel door of that old lime-green ’75 Ford Econoline.

The mishap required a quick trip down to the Snake River emergency clinic at Keystone, but we were back on the mountain by lunchtime. And despite a new hand and forearm splint, to which we promptly taped a ski pole, at the end of the day, my friend led me on my first ride through Montezuma Bowl.

Twenty years later, I was teaching my toddler to ski at A-Basin. Sure, we’d go to Keystone with Opa now and then, or trek over to Breck on a fine spring day, but we lived in Summit Cove at the time and A-Basin was always our home mountain — the “Hausberg,” as the alpine villagers of Europe call it.

It’s where you take turns sharing childcare duties with your friends, watching their kids they make a few laps, and vice-versa. The place where several generations of family have skied. Maybe you’ve even scattered the ashes of a loved one from the summit. It’s where you feel the global mountain vibe that ties all high country dwellers together regardless of national borders.

It’s where you ski with Opa and Omi.

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A local middle-schooler airs it out in the Fourth Alley.

Over the years, you get to know every crinkle of terrain. Just by watching the direction of the snow plume blowing off Pali or PHQ, you know exactly where the best blown-in powder will be, and you recognize individual trees and their sprawling branches as snow-depth indicators.

Exploring leisurely through the steep, shady spruce glades or charging down an avalanche gully on the East Wall, you build an intimate relationship with nature, which breeds respect and leads, hopefully, to a stewardship ethic.

Another decade down the road (I’m almost afraid to count up the total number of years) and my teenager mostly skis with his peers. But tomorrow, on opening day at A-Basin, we’ll head up together to celebrate the start of another ski season. It couldn’t happen in a better place!

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Morning photo: Autumn glory

A look back …

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Lifting clouds form a pleasing backdrop to this aspen scene on Swan Mountain Road.

FRISCO — The fall color season is just about over, at least at our elevation, but that’s why photos are good! Watching the trees race through their seasonal change is always inspiring, a sign of the inexorable force of nature. In looking back at some of the images, it amazes me how fast the change happens, resulting in different patterns of light and color nearly every day. These images span about a week in Summit County, just before the first wintry storms swept through. Check out my Instagram feed for daily updates and be sure to visit this online gallery for fine art quality prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunday set

October snow …

This is what it looks like when it starts snowing in Colorado in October!

This is what it looks like when it starts snowing in Colorado in October!

FRISCO — Dramatic days in Summit County, with hulking storm clouds, wind and some significant valley snow, right on schedule. Pretty soon, we’ll be in the all-white mode, but for now, there’s still that fabulous clash of seasons, visible even through the kitchen window as the last few aspen leaves hang on under the onslaught of winter. Click the images to see larger versions, follow the @bberwyn Instagram and Twitter feeds, or visit our online gallery for fine art quality prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

Satellites see Four Corners methane ‘hotspot’

‘From space, there are no hiding places …’

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan.

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher).
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Four Corners region is a methane hotspot, producing the largest concentration of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States. Atmospheric concentrations of the gas are more than three times the standard ground-based estimate, according to a new study of satellite data by scientists at NASA and the University of Michigan. Continue reading

Morning photo: Lingering autumn

Sweet September light

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A slanting September sun adds some side-lighting to this Dillon Reservoir scene.

FRISCO — I was hoping to post a set of new snow pictures this morning, but it looks like the storm passed a bit to the south and east so we’ll have to wait just a bit longer for the first significant valley accumulation. Instead, I sorted through the last few weeks worth of fall images to find a few that tell the story of the season — slanting light that changes everything, late-blooming fall flowers and some serenely floating leaves. It’ll all change soon enough when the snows arrive! Continue reading

Morning photo: More …

Super Summit!

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Hunter’s moon rising over Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — OK, so I didn’t manage to get a good shot of the eclipsed moon this morning. It was mostly obscured by clouds, but I did watch the lunar orb emerge from the Earth’s rusty shadow from the deck. That means I’m looking forward to seeing all the pics of eclipse streaming across the interwebs this morning. Even without the eclipse, there have been a few dramatic moments in Summit skies the past few days, including the first real wave cloud formation, a sure sign that upper level winds are shifting toward fall and winter conditions, and the last few remnant patches of autumn leaves. Continue reading

Morning photo: Shades …

Autumn vibes

Deep tones in this afternoon shot show how the sun angle has changed in the past few weeks.

Deep tones in this afternoon shot show how the sun angle has changed in the past few weeks.

FRISCO — It’s pretty amazing how the light can change from day to day, month to month and season to season. The first picture in this set was taken down on the corner of our street, where Frisco meets Denver Water land, and just a month ago, it would have been way to bright at 3 p.m. to take a decent shot, especially in full sunlight. But in late September, the sun angle is low enough to give some definition to the clouds and add richness to the foreground tones. In this set, I tried to pick images from the last few days that show the wide range of autumn hues in the Colorado high country. Follow my Instagram feed for daily picture updates and visit this online gallery for fine art quality prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

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