On the Hill: Rite of spring | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: Rite of spring

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Man, what a final day at Highlands.

The sun was bright, the bumps were soft, the view from Highland Peak was crystal clear. We took the whole family skiing, but it was one of those days that ended up being less about skiing and more about spring celebration. We skied a few runs together on Cloud Nine to start, but we’d hardly loosened our legs before the kids wanted some food.

So we trooped into the Merry-Go-Round, and Mom, armed with a credit card, splurged for hot dogs, burgers, French fries, cookies, bottled drinks, the whole schmear. What the hell ” it’s closing day (OK, closing day No. 2) at Highlands.

By the time we’d mowed down the food, the ski splash was under way, and the kids much preferred watching wet loonies in costume to actually making turns. So we gawked at the ski splash, cheered at the successful skims and laughed at the wipeouts, and hollered at every participant to “hit the jump!” Most didn’t.

At some point, I had to hike the Bowl, more as a ceremonial observance than for the turns. (Although the snow on Full Curl was damned good for April 27.) My 9-year-old son likes Highland Bowl, but I couldn’t pull him away from the splash. Of course, halfway up the ridge my cell phone rang and my wife howled, “Billy’s going to do the splash! Get down here!” Even if I’d turned around, I wouldn’t have gotten there in time, so I kept hiking. (Truth be told, I’m glad I did. It had to be done.)

But then, nearing the top, I got a second call and learned that Billy was now soaked. He’d hit the water OK but without sufficient speed ” blub, blub, blub.

We all reconnected again at the Merry-Go-Round and took a final run to the bottom. Somehow Billy volunteered to ski the bumps on Mac 6, even though his boots were full of water. By the end of the shuttle ride to the Buttermilk parking lot, however, he was cold, miserable and wishing he’d never even heard of the ski splash.

He’ll get over it. He has a cool story to tell his friends and he earned his stripes as the real man of the family.

Thanks to Skico and the weather gods for a great day.

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