The Wolf Pack
Aspen might be bracing itself for the Winter X Games crowds this week, but someone should warn the citizenry of a new menace: the Western Massachusetts Wolf Pack.Lock your beer fridge and look uphill before merging onto local ski runs, because nine madmen have hit town and Aspen might never be the same.I grew up spending summers waterskiing and sailing on a lake in Massachusetts with two of the guys, Todd and Terry Tuggey, and met the rest, all graduates of Pittsfield High School, on Friday at the base of Aspen Highlands.Brief introductions at the top were all nicknames like Smitty and Squirrel, too many to remember, but before I knew it they were off in a pack and it was just a matter of keeping up.”Let’s show this mountain what us Mass-holes can do,” one shouted.Most of them learned to ski on icy hills like Jiminy Peak and Brodie in the Berkshire Hills. And they all know how to set an edge and ride it fast, so following them down the groomies of Highlands was like a friendly Chinese Downhill or a “no contact” workout session of a Skier X team.Criss-crossing turns at mach speed on the flats, a shredder run down the steeps under Temerity, a run through the bumps spilling onto the deck at Merry-Go-Round, these guys were relentless (one of them is an old freestyler and even graced us with a few of his ballet “flair” moves).And riding up the lift with them, I found out they’re lawyers and businessmen, even a retired Massachusetts state senator. Their friend the priest, who they suspect joined the order as part of a witness protection program, couldn’t make it this year.The group picks a ski hot spot every year, kiss the wives, kids and jobs good-bye and get together to play hard and toss back a few beers at night. They follow a strict “no cell phone policy.”No one is beyond ridicule, and their language and topics would make sailor’s blush, but it’s all in good fun.”We were all supposed to go to jail,” one of them told me. “So we’ve all surpassed expectations.”He’s the general council for a big computer company.The wolf pack will be ripping up Snowmass today, so keep your eyes peeled.