Roger Marolt: Black diamond daze
I think you’re ready for it. I am about to reveal to you the holy grail of skiing. It’s the ultimate ski experience on the ultimate ski mountain.
Meet me at the gondola at 8:45 a.m. Don’t be late! We’re going to need every minute.
From the top of the mountain our first run begins in a tuck to North Star. Slowing just slightly, we head through the bumps on the steep part and then get into a tuck and head down to Lift 7. Nice warm-up, huh? Are you loose yet?
At the top again, we ski quickly down Walsh’s, skate up the catwalk, over the flats and down Glade #2. Enjoy those big GS turns the rest of the way down Copper and around Kleenex Corner. You better slow it down in Franklin Dump though. That can be a little rough. Shake the knots out of your thighs as you cruise the rest of the way down Little Nell back to the gondola.
This time we head from the top over to Hyrup’s and then back to The Couch for a welcome slow ride. Massage those thighs. You’re not even close to being finished with them yet.
Now we head down Kristi’s and over to Glade #1. Then we traverse and hike across the slope to Glade #3. Make sure you get up above the trail sign or it doesn’t count. You have to tag them all. Ski down to Niagara and then get on the Bell Mountain lift. You see a pattern yet? It’s a cross between vertigo and fatigue.
All right, it’s 10:06 a.m. and you’re cooked. Sorry we’ve barely just started. Let’s pick up the pace!
We slide off the Bell Lift and over to Knowlton’s (aka Christmas Tree). Don’t go too far out into Copper because now we have to traverse back and get Keith Glen. After that, we have to traverse back to the Ridge and hike a hundred or so vertical up to the Shoulder of Bell. Your legs are screaming and lungs are burning as you tag the trail sign and head through the huge moguls down the Shoulder. Spar Gulch looks pretty good below until you get there and realize that we have to tuck back to Bell Mountain Lift.
We do three more laps on Bell Mountain: we ski Back of Bell #1 to Gent’s Ridge then Back of Bell #2 to Jackpot, and finally Ridge of Bell down to Slalom Hill and over to Lift 1A.
It’s 11:36 a.m. and you’re hungry. Cram a Power Bar into your mouth and wipe the chocolate drool off your chin. We’re heading back to this lift again via Lift Line right underneath the lift. Man, you look weak! I hope nobody was watching.
Now we have the pleasure of riding back-to-back lifts, 1A and Ruthie’s. Nice rest? Good, on your feet again! We head through the ball-knockers on Red’s to catch our first ride on Lift 6. From there we hit Silver Queen. From the top of Little Nell we click out of our bindings and run, yes run, up the old goat road to the top of Super 8 Gully (You’ll be cursing the placement of the trail sign about now). Back at Lift 1A, we ride up to do Spring Pitch and Corkscrew Gully. Funny, I usually like those runs. Don’t you?
It’s finally afternoon; 12:33 p.m. Up Lift 1A and Lift 8 we go to do Upper Percy’s. Mmmm, Bonnie’s is sooo close. Most people are enjoying a nice lunch about now, but you’re trying like hell not to lose yours. No time to stop though. We’re heading for Lift 6 to do F.I.S. then back to Lift 6 again down to Last Dollar.
It’s back to the gondola for a glorious 17-minute rest to the top. Wake up! It’s off to do Summit and then another confounded hike/bushwhack/traverse through the trees and powder to Blazing Star. We ride Lift 3 back up and do Blondie’s down to Lift 6.
Now we’re getting into the Bell Mountain-Lift 6 laps. This portion epitomizes this day ” face-shots one minute, down in the Dumps the next. We start at 1:38 p.m. and alternate between Bell Mountain and the Dumps until we have skied, in order, Short Snort, Hanging Tree, S1, Sunset, Bear Paw (with yet another hike back to Lift 6 to get Perry’s), The Face, International, and Zaugg Dump. It’s now 3:06 p.m. and you’re praying that the ski patrol saw you pee off the last lift and that they’re waiting to pull your pass. No such luck. It’s up Lift 1A for you.
You get near the top and look all the way down Silver Rush. “We’re going to do that? Now? On what’s left of these legs?” Yep. And down we go all the way to the bottom. Don’t lollygag either. We’ve got to catch the gondola one more time.
You stand at the top for a moment and take it all in. And, wish someone would take you in at this moment. Can’t quit now though. We click in and head over to Buckhorn and across the Ho Chi Minh trail that spits us out at the top of Lift 6. Your legs hurt like a mailman’s in the kennel. It feels like your ski pants are melted to your skin. Your skis swish and swipe all the way down Ruthie’s. You couldn’t carve a rotten pumpkin with a hammer right about now. Your skis chatter like kids in Sunday school all the way down Aztec. Corkscrew threatens to screw you up bad as you cross your tips four times every three turns.
You think you can finally smell the barn, but it’s probably just your soggy long underwear. Norway slope is mess. The cut-up crud is almost as stiff as you are. Finally you get to the bottom.
You check your watch one last time. It’s 3:44 p.m. You’ve just skied all of the regularly open, black- and double black-diamond runs on Aspen Mountain in less than seven hours.
Congratulations! You still think $72 bucks is too much for a day of skiing?
Just wait until you get your chiropractor’s bill.
[Roger Marolt first mined all of the Aspen Mountain black diamonds in one day in 1991. Contact him for a complete route and time schedule at firstname.lastname@example.org]