A foul wind mars our mountaintop paradise | AspenTimes.com

A foul wind mars our mountaintop paradise

Roger Marolt

By my reckoning, the new Sundeck restaurant has been around for five years now. That’s long enough for most of us to have completely forgotten about our old, unforgettable ski mountain eatery and nearly long enough for everyone to have formed a favorable opinion about the new place.As for me, I think it stinks! Now, before you start accusing me of being an anti-progressive, just hear me out. I like the new Sundeck. I think that the building is architecturally pleasing. It’s comfortable. The fireplace is cozy. The food is great. The staff is courteous. And, the prices are outrageous. Overall, it’s a perfect fit for Aspen. Almost everyone is singing its praise, and I’m not about to be the one who stands up and yells out that the emperor has no clothes. But, I will humbly proclaim that his majesty might do well to check his shorts. I don’t believe that the only skid marks on the slopes are around the gates of the NASTAR course. It literally reeks to the high heavens up there on top of our sacred shrine to skiing! If you happen to be up there as a low pressure system passes on a gentle wind from the west, look out! The stench will gag you. On the mountain known for its runs and dumps, we have something new to consider when we use those terms. I think a crescent moon should be cut in the oversized double doors as a warning to what lurks. Come on, admit it. You know what I’m talking about. The smell isn’t so bad if you walk from the gondola to the south entrance. But the olfactory gods help you if you happen to arrive for lunch off Lift 3 and park your skis on the east side of the building facing the ski patrol shack. This is where Skico begins the greening of its operations in earnest, as you can easily judge in the complexions of the horror-struck customers clicking off their skis in anticipation of soup and hot dogs. One look around and you notice that everyone’s lips are tightly pursed, noses are crinkled, and folks are desperately attempting to put on dignity-preserving expressions that say, “That was not me, dude!”Many visitors subsisting on a traveler’s diet of unaccustomedly rich foods, and knowing a little about the effects of high altitude, momentarily doubt control of their own faculties. Embarrassed guests are left wondering, “Could a change in pressure from the altitude gain between here and town have caused that to escape from me without my notice?” I need not remind you that all of this is happening right outside the entry to the exclusive Aspen Mountain Club. This has become the place where the affluent meet the effluent. In remembrance of the mining camp of a similar name, many locals are now referring to the top of the mountain as “Turds a lot Park.” I tell you, it’s enough to make you want to eat your lunch out in the woods squatting behind a tree!To make things worse, some cunning people use this place like the family dog, as an opportunity to let out a little of their own flatulence knowing that they can blame it on the building which cannot betray them. This compounds the problem tremendously and places undue blame on the poor architects!Is it of any consolation that the stench ensures that the worst turns of the day will be made by your stomach? I think not. I have my suspicions that this putrid air is caused by some device that was part of the old “Uncrowded by Design” marketing campaign. If so, the engineers of uncrowded slopes here were well ahead of the rest of the field when they came up with this. Last Friday night I had dinner up there. The sunset was beautiful and I couldn’t resist going out to have a better look. As I opened the door leading to the west-facing deck, I was nearly overpowered by the stink. As the putrid air flowed to the area around the fireplace I prepared for the methane induced combustion. I quickly closed the door to cut off the fuel supply. Fortunately, the small volume of concentrated gas rapidly dissipated throughout the large dining area with the only damage incurred consisting of several gagging coughs and a few spoiled appetites. We got lucky. More careful the second time, I slipped through a crack and out onto the deck. Once there, I was reminded of how when one sense is overworked the others surrender. As the rancid air passed through my nostrils, numbness crept into my hands. A faint ringing took hold in my ears. My mouth was dry. Worst of all, I could no longer appreciate the splendor of the world spread out before my eyes. No more could I see the dazzling colors of the sunset suspended between the striated steel blue peaks of the Elk Range. The world resembled the undulating manure piles of a vast West Texas feedlot.Alas, in this storybook town where architects create stunning homes, plastic surgeons sculpt magnificent faces, and trainers hone perfect bodies, there is a chance that we may tend to take a little more credit than we should for the beauty that surrounds us. I’m certain there are times when we might tend to believe that the byproduct of our own existence here doesn’t stink. That sour air wafting around the Sundeck pungently reminded me that we are not so far removed from the rest of the world, after all.Bur, for crying out loud, isn’t five years worth of reminding enough? Free Ajax, once and for all! Take a deep breath before contacting Roger Marolt at roger@maroltllp.com

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