‘Rock board’ blues

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times

I have two snowboards in my quiver.

One is a Burton Sherlock with the reverse camber and all the bells and whistles, which I got tuned up, waxed and sharpened at the season’s promising opening.

The other is my “rock board,” a well-loved but beaten-down, 6- or 7-year-old jalopy of a High Society that hasn’t been sharpened since at least 2012 and is pocked mercilessly with scrapes, dings and a few gaping, glued-up core shots. (It also boasts a bumper sticker advertising my former employer, the other Aspen newspaper, which has caused a few grumbles around The Aspen Times office. I’ve marked it up with a circle-backslash “no” symbol, so nobody mistakes my current journalistic allegiance). It’s purely an early-season and late-season board. When I know I’m going on bumpy, rock-ridden runs, I want this one on the front lines.

The way it was snowing a month ago, I didn’t expect to be on the rock board much this winter. But as we all know, Mother Nature dried us out for a few weeks to start the season, and I was disappointed to still be riding the rock board in mid-December, slipping and spinning around on its dull edges — terrifying myself daily on the icy bits of Little Nell.

The big snow dump over the weekend made me contemplate bringing the first-string board out, but I opted to stay cautious, as most of the off-piste stuff on Aspen Mountain hadn’t opened yet, and I didn’t know what the coverage was like out there. So, the crusty ole rock board got the ride of its life Tuesday morning as I made my way down International, scouting out rumors that the dumps would be opening. The orange “closed” rope ran along Zaugg Dump and Perry’s Prowl, but where they end, two patrollers were pulling it away from Last Dollar, when it was rope drop time.

When I neared the patrollers, I slowed and asked, “Really?” one of them simply opened her arm wide toward Last Dollar, like a magician unveiling her reassembled assistant. I hopped in and it was steep and it was bottomless — the ride down was one of those long, transcendent, unthinking moments you get every once in a while playing in deep fresh snow with Danny Brown’s “Dip” blaring on your headphones and a beaten-to-hell snowboard strapped to your feet.

My rock-board blues were cured.