On the Hill: Worth the weight | AspenTimes.com
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On the Hill: Worth the weight

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The five of us were eating dinner at the Fritz Benedict Hut, nearly 11,000 feet above sea level on upper Smuggler Mountain outside of Aspen. We had all skied or snowshoed 5 miles and 2,700 vertical feet to get there, so one of my hut-mates had a question.

“Why,” she politely asked, “did you carry a freeze-dried dinner and a six-pack of bottled beer all the way up here?”

Fair question, I thought. The freeze-dried stroganoff that I noisily shoveled into my mouth weighed just a few ounces in my pack; saving weight was the whole point. And yet, at the same time, I voluntarily hauled six 12-ounce bottles of India Pale Ale.

She clearly thought I was an idiot. And I had to admit that, on its face, a decision to bring nearly 5 pounds of beer and fewer than 12 ounces of dinner is a stupid decision.

To me, however, the rationale was clear. The freeze-dried stroganoff (which tasted more like bland biscuits and gravy) was supposed to offset the weighty but delightful ales. The taste of the cold beer was more important to me than the taste of the hot dinner. And I knew my beer-loving hut-mates would appreciate the gesture.

I still don’t regret the decision. Yes, there were moments on the 4-hour slog to the hut that I questioned my own judgment. During one short stop in the woods, I considered pounding one of the ales right then and there, and leaving the bottle for retrieval on the way down. But I came to my senses and remembered that the ales were the cool, refreshing reward ” at the end of the long trip to the hut, and the following evening after ski-touring on upper Smuggler.

In both cases, the beers lived up to their promise. And I’m sure the beer-lovers in the group ” Scott and Bruce ” would agree with me.

Dinner was a bit of a sideshow, frankly, and was supplemented with handfuls of nuts, carrots, cheese, crackers and other snacks that amply filled my belly.

I didn’t explain all this to Jill, the woman who asked the question. She was drinking tea, after all. I just admitted to her that my choice was both conscious and ridiculous, and left it at that. We both laughed, and went on eating.

The beers delivered more laughs on the fast, icy ski down, when I could hear the empty bottles clanking in my backpack. Mission accomplished.

bward@aspentimes.com


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