Previewing the Apocalypse

Previewing the Apocalypse

Well, instead of snow, so far we're just getting more dust. As the afternoon progressed, the sky grew more and more pink, and the snow started to look as if God had sprinkled cayenne pepper everywhere.

What a mess!

Adding to the atmosphere, today is Telluride's end-of-season celebration downtown, so a live band is playing while costumed revelers party down. All that's missing to complete this surreal scene is some radiation-stunted mutants trolling about in the shadows and Mel Gibson leading a fuel convoy at breakneck speeds down the highway.

It's hard not to look at this as some sort of bleak preview of future scenes to come. "It looks like a movie," my Mom said as we rode up the Gondola. "And not a movie I want to see."

Aside from how ugly it looks, the dust really does wreak havoc on the snowpack. First, as I discovered today, the dust adds a surprising amount of friction, turning smooth riding into slow grinding. The dust also absorbs a lot more energy from the sun, so whenever the sun appears, the snow almost instantly turns to slush. I imagine all this dust acts like a wildcard for avalanche forecasting as well.

Maybe it's time for the season to end, after all.

— April 3, 2009

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents