Asher on Aspen: Journey to 100
Wrapping up a memorable season and getting pinned
Asher on Aspen
Well, that’s a wrap! Goal accomplished. I skied 100 days in one winter season!
In the beginning, this ski bum achievement felt near impossible while simultaneously working a full-time job. During the week, I eased into the routine of skiing everyday by dedicating my lunch break to time on the hill. On the weekends, I was able to push myself and ski for longer periods of time, while also enjoying the sport leisurely.
The Aspen Skiing Co. acknowledges those who reach triple digits with a quarter-sized pin — a new color and design annually — that recognizes when someone has scanned their pass 100 days. Although this goal may seem odd and arbitrary to non-skiing folks, this achievement is considered quite a triumph by mountain town locals. It takes relentless dedication and will power to get yourself out on the mountain nearly every single day, and the journey all proves to be worth it once awarded with the prestigious and highly coveted pin.
This year, I proudly logged four days on Snowmass, eight on Buttermilk, 12 on Aspen Highlands and 76 days on Aspen Mountain. Clearly, Ajax is my favorite child.
Being from Iowa, I never imagined that I would fall in love with the sport of skiing so deeply. The small hills of the Midwest can be beautiful, but the mountains of the Rockies have them beat no-contest. Skiing is like head laundry for me. Getting daily fresh air while cruising down the mountain puts me in the right state of mind to accomplish what I need to each day. It’s a release valve, and it’s a passion. It clears any worries or frustrations and replaces them with motivation. I feel like I can do anything whenever I get done skiing.
There are a few accolades that skiers in the Roaring Fork Valley can achieve in the course of their skiing career. Some of these badges of honor or rites of passage include hiking the Highland Bowl, skiing first tracks, eating breakfast at Bonnie’s (ordering the oatmeal pancakes, of course!) and logging laps at all four mountains in one day, popping bottles of Champagne at Cloud Nine, and hitting Boyd’s Bump on Aspen Mountain. But none comes close to skiing 100 days in a single season.
Only 0.3% of Aspen Snowmass passholders reach 100 days in any given year. During a regular season, there are around 160 days made available for skiing. This means that those who chart 100 days have to put on boots and skis nearly two out of every three days. It takes a dedicated soul to carry through with this kind of commitment and weather through snow, sleet, or sunshine (even occasional spring rain).
Furthermore, this means that skiers have to dress in multiple layers, put on ski boots, secure their helmet, ensure they have gloves, skis and poles in hand, and walk to the bus stop to catch a ride to the gondola two out of every three days. It means doing this on days when it’s below zero temperature, or when there is zero visibility. It means taking the Little Nell chair lift when the gondola has temporarily closed due to strong winds. It means braving the cold when your extremities have gone numb. It means skiing through whiteout conditions when you must stay close to the trees in order to see anything.
But maybe that’s the point. The thing I love most about skiing is that every day is different. Depending on the snowfall and the temperature, each day and every mountain brings unique conditions. Some days are so epic that I actually go to bed dreaming about powder. Other days, I can’t find an edge and I am sliding all over the mountain. Some days are so cold that I can’t feel my toes or my fingertips, but others are beautiful bluebird days where I never want to quit.
Skiing isn’t always the safest sport and I’ve certainly had my fair share of injuries (alongside so many of my friends). So, I feel incredibly grateful to walk away from this season unscathed with no battle scars besides a big toenail that I’m convinced is about to fall off. I thank God every day that I wake up and am able to ski another day. I feel so fortunate that I get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and that my body is physically able to ski daily.
The pin is a physical reminder for me that skiing makes me feel alive more than anything else. I’ve seen locals showcase their pin proudly by attaching it to helmets, bulletin boards, face masks, ski jackets, and even the ceiling of a car just above the rear-view mirror so that they’re reminded of the joy that skiing brings them.
My takeaway from skiing to the century mark during this pandemic season? Stay close to the things that make you feel alive. That set your soul on fire. Life is too short to do anything else.