Life in the slow lane |

Life in the slow lane

Paul E. Anna
Aspen, CO Colorado

Can’t we all just slow down a bit?

Everywhere I go, everyone I know seems to be in such a damned hurry. It is as though we are living the Highlands Inferno in real time. You know, trying to see who can get up the mountain and down the fastest.

We used to just go skiing, now we have to climb the Bowl and be back by 10 a.m. Yoga classes are more about seeing who can get in the most poses in the shortest time, with sweat a higher goal than enlightenment.

Pick up any sports magazine and the adrenaline rush is held as the highest achievement for any participatory sport. Surfing magazines no longer tout the good life on sunny afternoons, but report on the quest for riding he biggest, baddest, coldest waves. The riders inevitably form a final circle in the sea to honor a friend who has “gone missing” while riding 50-foot waves in the frigid waters off the coast of California. Skiing magazine last month had a cover story on the worst ski falls of all time, like that is a goal for most skiers. Runners World is always leading with stories about how to run faster, rather than how to run funner.

It is the age that we are in. There is a rush to get there, a rush to judge, a rush to leave.

So I’m in favor of a movement right here in Aspen to reject the notion that sooner is better, that faster makes us happier. Let’s just slow down. It could begin this weekend.

A great way to do just that can be found on the local hills. Ride the slow lifts. That’s right; eschew the high-speed quads, the gondolas, the triples and doubles. Take the slow lifts.

The best example I can think of is likely the Tiehack lift on Buttermilk. This relic is in line for replacement, but if you want to experience the mountain the way they did back in the days of Friedl Pfeifer, go to Buttermilk and ride and ski Tiehack for an afternoon. The ride is glorious with some of the valley’s very best views. The runs, while gentle and easy (as if there is something wrong with that), are long enough to give even an in-shape skier a good quad burn. And I’ll bet you’ll have the time to get in a great conversation on the way up.

If Snowmass is your mountain and it’s a weekend, give the Sheer Bliss a lift. True, it is so slow that you could read (and finish) Tolstoy on your ride, but it, too, is a beautiful ride with views on either side. Fifteen minutes or so of just riding in the outdoors. This lift seldom runs anymore but if you see it in action, a couple of long, slow rides punctuated by a lap or two on the Sheer Bliss run will be a perfect way to spend and hour.

Then there is the oft-quiet Bell Mountain chair on Ajax. This used to be the way back up the hill ” the lift everyone rode to get to the big bumps on Bell. It goes right up the ridgeline of Bell, and you can watch skiers peel off the front and back of the mountain on big powder days and pick your line for your next run. Sure it takes a little longer, but it gets you to a great place, and it will give you a little time to contemplate just how lucky you are to have one of life’s most precious commodities.

The time to slow down.

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