Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
I’ve been hiking Highland Bowl more than usual lately because Lorenzo Semple is a conniving twerp who is so disagreeable that he had to trick somebody into doing the Power of Four ski-mountaineering race with him, and that fool is me, and I was told that this is a good place to train for the event. More on me breaking a ski pole over his noggin on the course next week, but for now I want to broach the topic of courtesy on the Bowl.
In short, there’s not very much of it. First, the slow, hanging fruits: There are lots of people going up the Bowl who are taking their sweet time and everyone else’s, too. The turtle pace is partly to take in the views and more often to take in oxygen, which is scarce up there. The problem is that there are lots of people who don’t want to go as slowly as they do, but since they are creeping along in front of a long train of self-induced human suffering, they don’t notice or very much care.
This brings me to the next class of inconsiderate people on the Bowl: the jerks. You know them. They yell for people to move over ahead of them. They tap slower hikers on their heels to notify them that they need to get out of the way. Some lecture hyperventilating hikers on the side of the trail about proper Bowl etiquette.
Let’s get one thing straight, though. There are no official rules of etiquette on Highland Bowl. If anybody says there are, they are only telling you things that you can do to make their hike more enjoyable.
This fact renders the first type of oblivious Bowl bore forgivable. The slowpokes in your way going up the Bowl are not out to ruin your day. They are hypoxic. This is a verifiable medical condition. Its symptoms range from lightheadedness to hallucination. Lots of the people slogging along in front of you up the 12,000-foot-high ridge barely know who they are much less where they are or what they are doing. Forgive them. Better yet, offer to take pictures of them with their iPhones so that when they get back to their hotel rooms they can see what they did that day and not worry that they got knocked on the head and mugged in the back of the Highlands bus on the way back to Rubey Park.
So, without official rules to guide us, how are we supposed to know how to properly behave on the Bowl? Duh. It’s called common courtesy. This leads us to discuss the second type of lout described above.
What do you think of the guy with the fast car who, in heavy traffic, pulls up on the vehicle ahead of him, lays on the horn, flashes his headlights and expects everyone to get out of the way so he can get to town in a personal best time, assuming he’s not driving an ambulance? That’s right. He’s a jerk. I ask you then, what is the difference between this lout and the Highland Bowl speed-hiker who expects everyone to get out of his way? Mind you, at least the guy in the fast car might be trying to get to work. The Bowl hiker is presumably relaxing on his day off. Talk about uptight.
By now it should be obvious what the Bowl is sorely lacking: a dedicated left lane. The problem is that all the impatient, highly trained, world-class hikers who could lay down the separate fast tracks after each storm prefer using their energy to yell at people to get out of their way so they can then show off by passing them at a high rate of speed, like anyone is impressed with that.
Now, busting butt through untracked snow up the Bowl to alleviate congestion on the singletrack might not be the fastest way to the top of the mountain, but it would get you to the top of many “good karma” lists. It would be showing off to make the Bowl experience more enjoyable for everyone. Nice!
Instead of catcalls, that person would get heaps of praise. Then, all the jerks could follow those fresh, hard-won footsteps all the way to the top without anyone noticing.
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