Ahhhhhh, Fall in a Ski Town. If you’re basic you call it PSL SZN, if you’re local it’s shoulder season, and if you’re a bit more sophisticated you might call it autumn. Marked most notably by the golden aspen leaves, and our favorite local establishments packed full of “peepers”, fall can be an unpredictable beast when you call the mountains home. Some people choose to escape for the fall shoulder season. You can head on down to the Caribbean for some cocktails and toes in the sand, over to Bali to catch some waves, or just next door to the desert for some awesome camping. It’s the perfect time for ski-towners to take a vacation to fill their cup with various action adventures. However, if you choose to stick around, you’ll be treated with beautiful fall hikes, bike rides, and some of the year’s best fishing. If you’re lucky, you may even see some early season snowfall. If you’re REALLY lucky, you may just witness the much sought-after early season dump. We were really lucky this year, and you better believe the STAS took advantage of an opportunity for some October skin tracks and boot packs.
The night of October 21, 2019 brought us a sizeable snow storm, and it got stuck in the pass. We were excited that evening because it had started snowing at our office at about 3PM and it wasn’t showing any signs of letting up. We forced ourselves to bed early, but it was useless. Like a child the night before vacation, we tossed and turned all night restless with anticipation. The 5AM start didn’t faze us as we checked over all our gear and enjoyed an oat milk latté. Skins, poles, BCA gear, boots, goggles, layers, gloves, STAS hats, all check. We were giddy as we parked our car at an undisclosed location (sorry folks, some things need to stay secret). We quickly checked a nearby snow bank and were overjoyed to posthole up to our knees. The stoke was high as we geared up and started breaking trail. We were definitely the first ones to lay down the skin track, and we were quickly reminded how difficult it is to stay in skiing shape during the offseason. There’s no workout that equates to trudging through untracked snow with your touring gear. We found ourselves lost in the wilderness in no time, laughing at all the conifers caked with wizard hats of snow. I wouldn’t call it bottomless, but it was damn good for October.
We reached our destination and took a minute to absorb our surroundings. From the top of the ridge we were on it looked like full on winter, as if fall never existed. There is something oddly satisfying about finishing the skin up. You get an “I earned this” feeling as you take in your surroundings that you can’t get at the top of the chairlift. It’s almost like suffering through the trudge up the skin track with your squad makes everything a little more unreal. You can’t help but feel insignificant when you’re the only ones around and all you can see is the vast wilderness before you. After pausing for some nature appreciation, we prepped our gear for the descent. It was time for the fun part.
Admittedly it wasn’t the best snow ever, but it just might have been the best snow in October ever. We definitely bottomed out a time or two and went crashing into the fluff. It wasn’t painful though, and if nothing else we got some great laughs out of it. What’s a few more dingers to the old beater skis anyway, right? Despite the unforgivingly thin base it was still deep enough to throw up some walls and get a couple of face shots. For us, it was just fun getting out on another dawn patrol; linking up with the homies, getting back on the snow, and of course, grabbing some insta content.
Last year was one of the best winters in a long time. We skied all the way through the fourth of July. In Colorado, resort skiing is already available, and conditions aren’t terrible for some early season turns. We lucked out this year and only had about two and a half months of mountains closed for skiing. It was a short fall STAS; winter is already here. It’s time to tune up that gear and get ready. Condition for skiing/riding. Condition for après. Pray for more snow.