Santa Skis at Arapahoe Basin
By R. Scott Rappold
‘Twas the day before Christmas Eve and it was raining heavily in southern California with a wind out of the southwest.
For Colorado skiers and snowboarders, that means one thing: snow is on the way.
And, for my part of Colorado at least, Christmas will be a powder day.
Santa Claus got my list!
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the San Juan Mountains, home to ski areas Wolf Creek, Purgatory, Telluride, Silverton and Hesperus. It’s supposed to start snowing just as we’re lying down for a long winter’s nap on Christmas Eve with visions of a powder day dancing in our heads. It could snow up to a foot by Christmas night, with lesser amounts at other ski areas.
And yes, the skis are nestled in the car with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.
The joy of Christmas skiing
It’s uncanny – nay, almost eerie – how southern Colorado skiers can always expect a powder day on Christmas. At Wolf Creek, each of the past several years has been a white Christmas. In 2016 it snowed so hard on Christmas the ski area couldn’t open because highway crews couldn’t keep up.
Every powder day is special, a gift from Mother Nature for our enjoyment. Any time moisture in the cold atmosphere freezes and becomes heavy enough to fall to the earth as powder snow is a cause for celebration.
But a white Christmas? That’s extra-special. The Bing Crosby version of “White Christmas” has sold 50 million copies, making it the best-selling single ever. Most of our favorite Christmas movies and shows involve snow-draped landscapes.
I’m no meteorologist but I’m sure if you asked one, they’d say Dec. 25 has no greater likelihood of snow than any other day of winter. The weather does what it will do with no concern for us and our vacation and travel plans.
So when we do get a white Christmas on the slopes, we must rise early from our long winter’s nap. Save opening presents for later and get up on the hill for first chair, because plenty of people will still be in bed sleeping off last night’s revelry or unwrapping gifts around the tree.
Our gift will be waiting for us on the hill. The joy of sliding down a blanket of fresh, untouched snow early on Christmas morning may not fit in with the popular imagination – just imagine Ralphie having to wait until the afternoon to see if he got his “official Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”
But spending the morning ripping fresh powder with friends and loved ones will make for an unforgettable holiday. You’ll get some exercise so you can feel less guilty about the holiday feasting to come. You might even spy Santa shredding too.
So, to quote the aforementioned song, “May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.”