Is there anything better than waking up to a powder alarm? I’m startled into consciousness by a deep rumble outside the window. The clock reads 5:59 a.m., and light beams through the blinds as if a Martian landing is going down outside. The familiar whine of hydraulics at work and chained tires treading back and forth in snow is unmistakable, and my heart starts to beat a little faster. An excavator is threading the needle down our narrow alley, which is awesome because we have a six-inch rule before the plow comes. I make my way to the front door and look outside. A heavy blanket covers the car and even the spindly aspen branches are spackled. The forecasted 3”-plus came in closer to 10”. The machine leaves a waist-tall berm in its wake. I try and squeeze in one more hour of sleep.
I start mapping out runs in my mind, and decide to leave the shoveling for later. Toss, turn, toss, turn … mercifully the alarm goes off and within a few minutes I’m layered and booted up. Bomb blasts echo down the valley; the mountain is still shrouded in clouds—the storm isn’t over yet.
The next bus is coming in 30. But first I gotta feed the dog. And I can’t go anywhere without having at least a few sips of coffee ... I guess I should drink some water. Where’s my pass?! Next thing you know I’m running for the bus, which arrives just moments after I cross the street in front of the Gas Café.
Onboard, the powder buzz is downright palpable and the windows are steamed by conversation and condensation. The bus pulls into Mountaineer Square where we all disembark, and pockets of skiers and riders break out into a determined speed-walk that’s just short of an all-out run. Once on snow we click-and-strap-in and glide to the end of the maze. Singles line or pair up with another crew? Singles line looks a little longer. I jump in with three other snowboarders and we jockey for position. The clock strikes 9:00 and the crowd roars as the first chairs ascend into the clouds. So it begins.
—Mike Horn, Crested Butte, CO.