On the Hill: Drop that rope!
ASPEN ” Skiing Sunday on Aspen Mountain was of epic proportions.
And it wasn’t because I was on the fourth gondola bucket of the day and made some of the first tracks down Bell Mountain.
And it wasn’t because it was a feat unto itself that I got up at 7:30 a.m. after only a few hours of sleep as a result of extending The Aspen Times Christmas party into the wee hours of the morning. I knew I had to sacrifice the shut-eye because when I walked home at 2:30 a.m. the snow was up to my knees on Highway 82. And I was motivated by something Bill Stirling had said to me last year, which was sometimes as an Aspenite you have to suck it up on a powder day regardless of how hard you partied the night before. It’s how it’s been done since at least the ’70s, Stirling lectured.
Since skiing hard with minimal sleep and a hangover is nothing remarkable in this town, I still needed a good story. Then I learned that the group I had been skiing with early in the morning had split after one of the women had to stop for a pee break. Some in the group were lucky enough to be at the top of Walsh’s when the patrol dropped the rope.
Damn, I thought. That never happens to me. I was coming out of Kristi’s when my friend got the call on her cell phone from the woman who said they got fresh tracks on Walsh’s and we should have been there.
It was almost noon, and I was heading down to go to work. I was bummed that I had to take the couch chair back up because the Copper side was closed. But then there he was: The celebrated ski patroller. He was dropping the rope to Gentlemen’s Ridge right in front of me.
I jumped in and led a pack of about eight people into the Glades. I stood at the top of the untracked field of powder and was in absolute awe. I hit it, and whooped and hollered all the way down.
That’s my story.
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In the six weeks since Independence Pass has been open this season, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office already has received 15 reports of semi-trucks trying to or actually driving over the pass.