It’s closing time | AspenTimes.com
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It’s closing time

Jon Maletz
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” When I talked with Pierre Wille on March 31 after his second-place performance in the Elk Mountains Grand Tra­verse, I asked him about skiing Taylor Pass during a driving snowstorm. He equated the experience with being inside a Ping-Pong ball.

Skiing Aspen Highlands on Sunday was like splashing around inside a gallon of skim milk. I came to this realiza­tion as I attempted, albeit futilely, to clear wet snow off my lenses on the Cloud Nine lift as the chair in front of me disappeared into the low-hanging clouds. By the time I was on the ground, I sure could’ve used a compass ” or a straw.

For those who braved the stinging precipitation, there was a payoff; 4 inch­es of fresh snow were waiting on the upper slopes ” if you could find them.

I paused after unloading at the top of the Cloud Nine lift. For all I knew, I could’ve been in Basalt. I pushed off cau­tiously, heading in the direction of Upper Robinson’s and Pyramid Park ” two trails lined by dense trees. Fresh snow covered a soft groomed surface from the night before and made those first few turns a delight.

I soon wandered into wider terrain on the other side of the mountain and disappeared into a foggy haze. I could hardly see my ski tips, let alone people lining the trail. Needless to say, it was disconcerting. Had it not been for the man wearing the bright pink ” and a little too skin-tight ” ski pants charting a course ahead of me, I might have ended up on Castle Creek Road.

I waited it out through the tough conditions, hoping the clouds would lift; they continued to linger. When my base layers started to get damp, I decided it was time to head down, which proved to quite the experience.

Powder gave way to mashed potatoes in an instant. It felt like downhill skiing with skins on, or trying to traverse across a grass field. It took all my energy and balance just to keep my body from being hurled over my tips ” it’s a good thing I’m such a finely tuned athlete.

Was this the fond farewell to Highlands I had hoped for? Hardly. But I managed to survive without running into a tree or a small child ” and nothing beats a cold beer on closing day.

It sure tastes better than skim milk.


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