Wolf Creek's snow accumulations over the last few days were north of four feet, and the flakes just kept piling up with an enigmatic persistence. A series of robust winter storms that began clawing their way across the San Juans brought along a much-needed change of scenery for Colorado folks who've otherwise been shorted by the snow gods.

Skiers like us, we're a forgiving breed and we're blessed with a short memory. Months of disappointment are easily erased by as little as a dozen inches of fresh snow. The snowfall totals were too enticing to ignore, so I called some friends, booked a cabin in South Fork, and hoped to reset the stoke meter.

On the morning of our first day, the wind was howling, and the storm clouds completely obscured the rising sun. Over a foot of snow had fallen at our cabin overnight. The mercury was so far down the thermometer just outside the front door that I had to check to make sure it wasn’t broken. It read minus fifteen. The combination of cold air and snow accumulation this far down the valley was a reliable indicator of very good things up the pass. With conditions like these in South Fork, we knew we could bet the farm on faceshots at The Wolf.

We raced to the ticket window and up toward the Treasure chair. Ahead, there were already a few dozen people milling about the lift corral with childlike anticipation. "Delayed opening on the lifts, gotta dig 'em out!" an old man shouted from the edge of the sun deck as big, fluffy flakes collected on his long, gray beard. A smile stretched across his weathered face like a harbinger of good fortune. I could hear Van Halen's "Panama" blasting on the radio from the lodge. Later, we confirmed what we already knew, as we submerged into the latest bounty: Mother Nature was back, and she was here to party.

–Mark Rauschenberger

PHOTO: Chip Kalback

PHOTO: Chip Kalback

PHOTO: Chip Kalback

Mark Rauschenberger. PHOTO: Chip Kalback

Mark Rauschenberger. PHOTO: Chip Kalback

PHOTO: Chip Kalback

Mark Rauschenberger. PHOTO: Chip Kalback

Mark Rauschenberger. PHOTO: Chip Kalback

PHOTO: Chip Kalback