A spill on the hill
November 23, 2005
I had anticipated the start of the ski season for months.On the eve of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Ski Day, my pants and jacket were set out, my boot bag primed and ready. I even propped my new skis in the corner of my living room so I could periodically gaze at them and smile.The day started off perfectly. Almost too perfectly. I was out of bed before my alarm even went off, for the brilliant sunshine had long since filled my room with light. Before I knew it, I was walking into the gondola plaza, had my boots put on with workmanlike efficiency and was on my way to the top. There were no lines. My first run down Pussyfoot went smoothly. I felt light on my Atomics as I carved back and forth in the soft, untracked corduroy. Not one chair on the Ajax Express was empty, but I felt alone on the slopes. The confidence and adrenaline rushed to my head. I had yet to harness my twin tips, but I started to pick up the pace on run No. 2 down Silver Bell. It turned out to be a bad idea.I was near the bottom of my run and was cruising toward the lift line, which was now in sight. I let my body relax for a brief moment as I got air off a small bump, not knowing a sheet of sheer ice was waiting on the other side. I lost control, my skis and my poles, for good measure. I landed hard on both of my thumbs. My face dragged along the snow as I skidded to a stop. A snowboarder stopped to ask if I knew where I was as I dabbed my bloody lip and nose with the fingertips of my glove. I was glad I knew the answer. Funny, I had always laughed at people who took a good fall. Now I was having my very own yard sale. Thankfully, the photographer I came to the mountain with was not wielding his camera at that moment; such a picture would have littered the office walls. Thankfully, on the day I chose to forego my new helmet, I skirted any serious damage. I rose to my feet a little shaken and a little numb. My now swelling thumbs made it difficult to grip my poles, but I made do. I decided to salvage the day with a few more quality but cautious runs.I never realized how often I used my thumbs until I tried taking off my ski boots. Unlocking, then opening the car door. Scraping the last bit of peanut butter out of the bottom of the jar. I’m using my middle finger to hit the space bar as I type. It may not have been the most auspicious start to my first Aspen ski season, but I’m undaunted. Come this morning, I’ll be meandering through Snowmass’ Big Burn. I’ll be the guy with the helmet and the fat lip.