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Locals claim first tracks of the century

Allyn Harvey

Four intrepid locals can claim “first tracks” on Aspen Mountain for a long, long time to come.

How long?

Try 1,000 years.

Susan Blakney, Pat Callahan, Bob Kaufman and Charlie Tarver were the only people to climb up to the top of Aspen Mountain on New Year’s Eve for a midnight ski under the fireworks, which means they’re the only ones who can claim first tracks of the millennium.

“I truly thought there would be 50 to 100 people up there skiing on the mountain that night. I guess we’re not the ski town we claim to be,” Tarver said.

Callahan and Blakney got to the top by driving up Little Annie Road on the backside until the snow was too deep to continue. From there they walked, carrying their skis, a parka and a sleeping bag, and a stove to warm up cider and hot chocolate.

Callahan said the evening proved to be much warmer than they expected – about 20 degrees – so the cold weather gear and hot drinks stayed in their backpack. “We celebrated the millennium with a couple of Power Bars – probably not the most enticing meal of the evening,” Callahan said.

Meanwhile, Tarver and Kaufman strapped climbing skins to the bottom of their skis and walked up the front of the mountain via Spar Gulch. When they reached the top, they found just six living creatures – Callahan and Blakney, a pair of snowshoers, and a pair of foxes who live there full-time.

As midnight approached, the foxes and the snowshoers stuck it out at the Sundeck while the skiers headed over to Ruthie’s Run so they could get a birds-eye view of the fireworks.

“Fireworks from above look a lot like time-lapse photography of a flower. You see the stem coming up from the ground and the blossom exploding like a flower blooming,” Tarver said.

Blakney and Callahan skied down to Aztec Road, just above Snowbowl and stopped to watch the show in its entirety. “We took a few turns while the fireworks were going off, it was amazing,” recalled Callahan. Kaufman and Tarver skied down to the bottom under the red and blue and green and white lights of the fireworks.

So what’s the icing on the cake? Bragging rights of course, and few more minutes of sleep on future powder days. “It’s a thousand years before anyone can claim first tracks ahead of us. It’s thousand years before I have to get up earlier than everyone else again,” reasoned Tarver.


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