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"Lift Lines" is a new series from Aspen Public Radio that shares the joys of winter sports, broadcast throughout the week as part of our morning ski report. Reporter Kaya Williams brings her microphone to the chairlifts, gondolas and trails of the Roaring Fork Valley to ask people why they love sliding on snow.

Lift Lines: Wally Sheata

A skier rides a chairlift on a snowy day
Kaya Williams
Aspen Public Radio
Skier Wally Sheata was among the people who found a blanket of soft, untracked powder at Snowmass Ski Area on Jan. 11. Sheata hopes to ski 100 days this season and earn the 100-day pin that commemorates the achievement.

Snowmass Ski Area was covered in a blanket of untracked powder for skiers and snowboarders willing to get up early Wednesday.

Skier Wally Sheata , who lives in Base Village, wasn’t part of the crowd that eagerly awaits “first chair” on the Village Express, but he was close behind just after 8:30 a.m. when the chairlift and nearby Sam’s Knob lift open for the day. The Village Express and Sam’s Knob are the earliest lifts to open at any of Aspen Skiing Company’s four mountains; most others open at 9 a.m.

This winter, Sheata’s trying to ski 100 days and score a hard-earned pin after coming close with 98 days last year.

He says less-than-ideal skiing conditions in December kept him off the slopes in the early season.

That’s not the case this year, though, since the conditions have been “phenomenal,” he said.

“Great powder days, the groomers have been really good, the weather has been cold and very few warm days so snow is holding up nicely,” Sheata said.

As of Wednesday, Snowmass Ski Area was reporting a 60-inch base depth with 95% of its terrain open for the season. The mountain reported 21 inches of snow in a seven-day period through Wednesday morning.