It’s our second lap of the day and the skin track has filled in. I don't mean there is some snow blown into our ten-inch trench, I mean that it is snowing so hard that the skin track we set 35 minutes ago is completely gone, erased. And I welcome it. Nothing could make myself and many other skiers happier.

It's no secret that Colorado has had one of its worst starts to winter in decades, but over the last few days, the season has begun to come around. It came on slowly with a few inches here and there followed by a solid maelstrom that would leave 18-24 inches of full-bodied, base-building snow. In anticipation of this inevitability, we kept a stiff upper lip and proudly skied through the worst of it knowing that in the end, it would make us stronger, better, and more appreciative. We punched through a veneer of winds crusts on multiple occasions. We skinned across rock and tundra just to make turns on boilerplate so hard it shook the skis off our feet.

Now we stand on top of our line hunkered down from the storm in a patch of krummholz. We rip skins from skis and plan our descent. The snowpack is noisy with the new load, so we mellow the pitch and keep it safe. Dropping into the first real powder turns of the year is... awesome. Like the first sip of hot coffee on an icy dark morning or the crisp, cold taste of a well-earned beer cascading over your palate, it’s a feeling that you knew would come but you just had to wait for. No longer are our bases scraping over log and rock but hover effortlessly over cushioned base while our knees dance through chicken feathers. Winter has arrived and we skiers are happy!

--Liam Doran

PHOTO: Liam Doran

Gary Fondl. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Gary Fondl and Doug Evans. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Skier: Doug Evans. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Photo: Doug Evans. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Skier: Doug Evans. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Skier: Gary Fondl. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Skier: Doug Evans. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Skier: Gary Fondl. PHOTO: Liam Doran

Skier: Gary Fondl. PHOTO: Liam Doran